Some teams are defined by their star players. Barcelona, for instance, revolves around Lionel Messi. Paul Pogba has become the most influential figure at Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo is now the brightest star in Juventus’ galaxy. At Roma, though, things are slightly different. Their star man isn’t even a football player.

In Monchi, Roma boast an asset few others in the European game possess. He is the former goalkeeper turned sporting director credited with delivering astonishing success to Sevilla over the past decade, and now he’s doing the same at the Stadio Olimpico. Last season’s run to the semi finals of the Champions League might have shocked some, but to those who recognise Monchi’s brilliance it came as no surprise.

In the space of just a couple seasons, Roma have implemented one of the shrewdest and most effective scouting and transfer market strategies in the European game. Look at the way they sold Mohamed Salah to Liverpool and Antonio Rudiger to Chelsea last season, then made the final four of the Champions League.

Di Francesco

This summer, they sold Alisson Becker, once again to Liverpool, and moved on Radja Nainggolan to Inter Milan and Kevin Strootman to Marseille, reinvesting the money in Steven N’Zonzi, Javier Pastore, Justin Kluivert, Ante Coric and Robin Olsen among a few others. While so many clubs seemed to struggle in the transfer market this summer, Roma had no such troubles.

However, Eusebio Di Francesco’s side have endured a mixed start to the 2018/19 season, winning one, drawing one and losing one. It’s still very early on in the campaign, but the weekend’s defeat to AC Milan in particular exposed some crucial failings in the system and methods of Di Francesco as a coach.

Di Fransesco seems unsure of his best team and that has been reflected in the way he has switched between three different formations and three different approaches in Roma’s opening three games of the Serie A season. Against AC Milan, he decided to use Pastore and Patrick Schick in behind Edin Dzeko as the central striker, but all this did was stagnate the Giallorossi’s attack and leave them outnumbered in the centre of the pitch.

Despite last season’s incredible Champions League run with Di Fransesco at the helm, questions are starting to be asked of the 48-year-old. It has already been speculated that former Juventus and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte could pitch up at the Stadio Olimpico, although one of either AC Milan or Inter Milan could beat them to the punch in that regard.

Roma have been hailed for the way they have navigated the transfer market over the past two years, but that shrewdness must extend to their managerial hiring and firings. Di Francesco isn’t in trouble yet. Roma have signed a lot of players in a short space of time, and so it might take time for them to bed in. But he must show that he can reinvent himself season after season just like his employers do.


Roma to win Serie A

Roma to win the Champions League

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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