Roma’s new American owners are tackling Italian football their way after promising to bring the glory days back to Serie A’s ‘sleeping giants’ – and with a European semi-final booked in with Man United, it’s Europa League or bust for boss Paulo Fonseca
- Roma’s new American owners are going about their business quietly in Italy
- The Friedkins purchased the club from fellow American James Pallotta last year
- The father and son duo have promised to bring the glory days back to Roma
- Edin Dzeko and Co are just two legs away from reaching the Europa League final
- Now only European gold will save boss Fonseca, who’s been linked with the exit
In a country known for boisterous football club presidents, the new American owners of Roma are bucking the trend with the silent treatment.
Dan and Ryan Friedkin have frustrated Italy’s all-sports newspapers to no end by not conducting a single interview since they purchased the club last year from fellow American James Pallotta.
Unlike the more outspoken and often foul-mouthed Pallotta, who largely preferred to direct the club from Boston and Miami, the Friedkins (father and son) are showing their dedication to the club in a more old-fashioned manner – by being constantly present.
Roma’s new American owners the Friedkins are going about their business quietly in Italy
The Friedkins, who made a fortune distributing Toyotas in Texas, have been a fixture at the empty Stadio Olimpico all season, quietly observing the team’s troublesome campaign in Serie A and successful performance in the Europa League.
Dressed always in suits, they were sitting in their usual spots in the otherwise empty VIP tribune for a 1-1 draw with Ajax on Thursday that earned Roma a spot in the semi-finals of Europe’s secondary competition.
Seventh in Serie A and losing sight of the Champions League places, Roma is desperate to win the Europa League to earn a spot in the continent’s elite tournament next season.
Dan (right) and Ryan Friedkin (middle) are promising to wake Serie A’s ‘sleeping giants’
‘I’ve never reached a semi-final before, so this makes me very proud, especially as we are representing Italy right now,’ Roma coach Paulo Fonseca said, referring to the team being the only Italian club remaining in European competition. ‘It’s a source of pride for Roma.’
Fonseca reportedly needs to guide Roma to the trophy to keep his job, so reaching the last four apparently doesn’t secure his future.
‘It doesn’t change anything. I don’t know if I will be the Roma coach next season, just that I will be the coach for the next game,’ Fonseca said. ‘As I’ve always said, I’m not remotely concerned with the future. All that matters now is Roma. The club owners have always been very close to us all and we feel their presence.’
Edin Dzeko’s late equaliser secured a 3-2 aggregate victory for Roma and brought a sense of redemption for the veteran striker, who was stripped of the captaincy by Fonseca following an alleged dispute with the coach earlier in the season.
They watched from the stands as striker Edin Dzeko (second right) scored against Ajax
Dzeko’s equaliser for Roma booked them a spot in the Europa League semi-finals
At the final whistle, young centre back Gianluca Mancini dropped to the turf distraught over a yellow card that will force him to sit out the first leg of the semi-finals against Manchester United – raising the question of whether former United defender Chris Smalling can return from injury to play in his old stadium.
It will be Roma’s second European semi-final in four years after beating Barcelona to reach this stage in the 2017-18 Champions League.
Roma’s next opponent brings back memories of a dark page in the Giallorossi’s history.
Roma will now meet Manchester United in the last four, after they eased past Granada
In the 2006-07 Champions League, Roma was routed 7-1 at Old Trafford – a game that current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played in.
‘If we’ve reached this point, it means we can play with anyone,’ Roma midfielder Jordan Veretout said.
Indeed, Roma has won nine of 12 Europa League games this season.
The toughest part for Roma might be maintaining its focus for Serie A, with a tricky visit to relegation-threatened Torino coming up on Sunday.
‘I never get too excited,’ Fonseca said. ‘I’ll go home now and celebrate with my wife but then after that I’ll focus on the next game.’
Roma manager Paulo Fonseca reportedly needs to guide Roma to the trophy to keep his job
As for the Friedkins, they’re one step closer to closing out their debut season with a European trophy.
‘We feel that Roma is somewhat of a “sleeping giant”,’ Ryan Friedkin told the club’s website in September in what remain the family’s only public comments.
‘There is no reason that, in time, this club can’t seriously compete for trophies at all levels,’ he added. ‘With the fans, and the city, behind us, anything is possible at Roma. The club is very special.’
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