Serie A is moving in some interesting directions.
Juventus has signed the second best Ronaldo of all time, there is a new TV deal that may finally see some ability to watch legally in our part of the world (although I’m not holding my breath), some famous old clubs have gone bankrupt (Bari, Cesena and the Mike Piazza owned Reggiana), Milan is close to joining them, and all the while Roma is still what the fans not so affectionately refer to as “the supermarket”.
The Ronaldo thing is the one you have probably already heard about. It’s a bit weird for me on a couple of levels.
The first is the shock it seems to have generated. That’s in itself a sad indictment on how far the Italian league has fallen. An awful lot of people have too short a memory to recall that Juventus are the club of Zidane and Deschamps and Platini. And Serie A is the league of Maradona and Van Basten and Gullit and Falcao and Batistuta and the REAL Ronaldo amongst many, many others.
But that’s not as weird to me as my other thing – the new Juventus fans this seems to be instantly creating! Their shirt sale figures are reportedly going through the roof and Twitter is already inundated with Juventini I have never seen crawl out of the woodwork before.
It’s odd to Romanisti that one player can make someone a fan of a club. You might point to Totti as the reason for a lot of Roma fans, and he is, but I think Totti the player is less of a factor in that than what Totti symbolises – a one club man, playing for the club of the city of his birth. And, again, when your memory stretches back far enough, it’s not just Totti. Roma has always been a club with ‘bandieri’, fan favourites who were born in the city – Giannini, Di Biaggio, Totti, De Rossi, Aquilani and Florenzi are the main ones from my era.
In a nutshell, we revere loyalty not mercenaries. But that’s starting to change as well. Which brings me to the whole ‘supermarket’ thing.
Even harder for Romanisti to grasp than the Ronaldo fanboys is the fact that along with our relatively recent American ownership has come ‘plusvalenza’, or ‘moneyball’ as they call it in the States. Gone are the days when we could get used to certain players being untouchable. Now everyone has a price – maybe even De Rossi if he was 15 years younger.
Lamela was the first big talent to be let go, then Pjanic went, Salah went, and now Nainggolan has gone and it looks like our hotshot young goalkeeper, arguably the best we have ever had, Alisson, is going too – off to either Liverpool or Chelsea for the GDP of a small island nation.
There seems to be two categories of Roma fan at the moment – those who are outraged by this and those who have already accepted it and moved on. I’m firmly in the latter camp.
Come on, we all knew the deal from the beginning, we can’t be shocked about it now. Alisson wasn’t purchased to retire as our captain in 20 years’ time. He was always here to be farmed like a foal and hocked off as a thoroughbred to the highest bidder when the time was right.
Whether you agree with that strategy or not is by the by – it’s our strategy and has been for a few years. It’s a bit late for moaning now!
Fans are getting more and more fickle. Another recent source of real frustration to me, much more so than any bit of transfer news, was the outpouring of joy when Roma signed a new shirt sponsor after being without one for the best part of a decade – Qatar Airways. How does having a sponsor make you love your club even more, no matter who they are and what they are associated with – in this case a state owned airline of a country that is enslaving people and killing them in the construction industry in record numbers? And you are far more likely to be attacked for pointing this out than supported for it.
What drives these people, not just to be ambivalent that our main “global partner” is literally a murderer, but to be so ignorant as to celebrate it at the same time?
Players come and players go, whereas the Qatar issue goes to the heart of what sort of club we are much more than whether or not we sell a goalkeeper who wouldn’t be with us in 20 years under the best of circumstances. None of the current squad will be with Roma then, but I will be.
Late last year someone said to me “it must break your heart how well Salah is playing at Liverpool!” I answered honestly, “not really”.
I don’t care overly much who’s wearing the shirt. It’s the shirt that matters. And the city and the values it represents. I prefer to see at least one or two Roman born players in the team, I don’t want to see any assholes in the team. Aside from that, when it comes to assembling a competitive squad, in Monchi I trust.
Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/