ROME (Reuters) – AS Roma president James Pallotta has admitted in a brutally honest open letter that the club’s season was a “complete disaster” but defied his critics by saying he would not standing down.
Roma fell far short of expectations as they finished sixth in Serie A and were beaten in the Champions League round of sixteen by Porto. Coach Eusebio Di Francesco was sacked after that elimination in March and sporting director Monchi also left.
Roma, currently without a coach, have not won a major trophy since Pallotta, among the U.S. investors who took over the club in 2011, became president in 2012.
He said the team’s lack of success was a “major regret”, adding that nobody “has been more disappointed, more depressed or more upset with how things have gone at Roma over the last 18 months than I have been… Last season for me was a complete disaster”
The coach, he said, he been handed an unsuitable squad.
“The team simply didn’t fit well together with the system that Di Francesco wanted to play,” said Pallotta. “He was clearly put in… a tough position this past year and was collateral damage. That’s something that we all regret.”
Responding to his critics, Pallotta said he could “take the beatings” but would not accept attacks on his family.
“What I think is disgraceful and despicable, and certainly not representative of Roma and our fans, are the hundreds of people who have called my sisters such names such as sluts, whores and pigs,” he said.
“Unfortunately for them, I’m not going anywhere. All we care about is building a great and successful Roma.”
Pallotta addressed the decision to sell forward Mohamed Salah and goalkeeper Allison, who have both gone on to thrive at Liverpool.
He said the Egyptian wanted to prove himself in the Premier League, while Allison was sold because Roma needed to comply with UEFA’s break-even rule known as Financial Fair Play.
Pallotta said anyone who thought he was only interested in making money “couldn’t be more wrong… I’ve never taken a salary; I’ve never taken one penny out of this team. I don’t get anything from transfer market deals. I don’t get anything from shirt sales. I don’t get one cent”.
Roma fans were infuriated when the club decided not to offer stalwart midfielder Daniele De Rossi a new contract, forcing him out after 18 seasons, but Pallotta said he could not afford to risk the 35-year-old getting injured and leaving the side short of options in a key area.
“While I would love to have Daniele on the team, you only have two (defensive midfielders) and if one gets hurt, Roma is screwed. It’s just as simple as that.”
(Reporting by Brian Homewood; editing by Tony Lawrence)