Roma’s new American owners are tackling Italian football – and wanting gold in the Europa League this season
In a country known for boisterous football club presidents, the new Roma US owners are going against the trend with the silent treatment.
Dan and Ryan Friedkin have frustrated Italy’s all-sport newspapers to the end by not having a single interview since they bought the club from fellow countryman James Pallotta last year.
Unlike the more outspoken and often rude Pallotta, who directed the club largely from Boston and Miami, the Friedkins (father and son) show their commitment to the club in a more old-fashioned way – by being constantly present.
Roma’s new American owners, the Friedkins, do their business quietly in Italy
The Friedkins, who made a fortune distributing Toyotas in Texas, were a fixture in the empty Stadio Olimpico all season, quietly observing the team’s tough Serie A campaign and successful Europa League performance.
Always dressed in suits, they sat in their usual spot in the otherwise empty VIP stand 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 the Champions League places, Roma are desperate for the Europa League to earn a spot in the continent’s elite tournament next season.
Dan (right) and Ryan Friedkin (center) promise to awaken the Serie A ‘sleeping giants’
“I’ve never reached a semi-final before, so this makes me very proud, especially as we now represent Italy,” said Roma coach Paulo Fonseca, referring to the team being the only Italian club left in the European competition. “It is a source of pride for Roma.”
Fonseca will reportedly have to escort 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’ll be the Roma coach next season, just that I’ll be the coach for the next game, ‘Fonseca said. As I’ve always said, I’m not worried about the future. All that matters now is Roma. The club owners have always been very close to us and we feel their presence. ‘
Edin Dzeko’s late equalizer secured a 3-2 aggregate victory for Roma and brought a sense of redemption to the veteran striker, who was stripped of the captain by Fonseca after an alleged dispute with the coach earlier this season.
They watched from the stands how striker Edin Dzeko (second right) scored against Ajax
Dzeko’s equalizer for Roma ensured a place in the semi-finals of the Europa League
At the final whistle, young center-back Gianluca Mancini fell desperate to the ground over a yellow card forcing him to sit out the first leg of the semi-final against Manchester United – raising the question of whether former United defender Chris Smalling can return. from injury to playing 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 adversary brings back memories of a dark page in Giallorossi’s history.
Roma are now facing Manchester United in the last four after passing Granada
In the 2006-07 Champions League, Roma was beaten 7-1 at Old Trafford – a game in which current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer played.
“Reaching this point means we can play with anyone,” said Roma midfielder Jordan Veretout.
Roma have indeed won nine of the twelve Europa League matches this season.
Perhaps the hardest part for Roma is keeping the focus for Serie A, with a tough visit to relegation-threatened Torino on Sunday.
“I never get too excited,” said Fonseca. “I’m going home now and celebrating with my wife, but after that I’ll focus on the next game.”
Roma manager Paulo Fonseca reportedly has to accompany Roma to the trophy to keep his job
As for the Friedkins, they’re one step closer to closing their debut season with a European trophy.
“We feel like Roma is a bit of a ‘sleeping giant,'” Ryan Friedkin told the club’s website in September in what is still the family’s only public comments.
“There is no reason this club cannot seriously compete for trophies at all levels over time,” he added. ‘With the fans and the city behind us, anything is possible at Roma. The club is very special. ‘