Roma-Liverpool, Monchi: "Rome supports Roma. Let's colour the City!"

Roma's Sporting Director, interviewed by Il Romanista, said: "There is no tomorrow, all ends on Wednesday. Every grandfather, every nephew, every son, every mother: everyone plays on Wednesday"

30 Aprile 2018 - 15:35

Sunday morning. Trigoria shines under the sun. It is hot, but there is a sun that invites you to dive in the water, like Pallotta. Outside Trigoria few supporters are waiting and we appreciated that someone was reading our journal. Inside Trigoria Di Francesco's Roma is training, thinking about Wednesday night, the second leg of the Uefa Champions League semifinals against Liverpool. Il Romanista has a meeting with Monchi, the sporting director who has come one year ago. We present ourselves with the best line-up: the editor Tonino Cagnucci, the vice-editor Daniele Lo Monaco, Piero Torri, Valerio Curcio and our photographer Gino Mancini. The few contacts we had before the interview have brought us to understand that Monchi wants to speak to romanist people and about the matches against Liverpool, the one that was and the one that will be next Wednesday, the most important 90 minutes of our history.

Did you read the statement of Curva Sud?
"Yes, First of all I would like to speak about Sean Cox, reinforcing what Pallotta said. Soccer and life are two different things in this case, I am very catholic and I prey for him and for his family. We are human beings, I hope he can return to support his team".

Did you have direct contacts with his family?
"Not personally, but Mauro (Baldissoni) and Umberto (Gandini) with the President took care of this. Going back to the first question, I read that statement, I know that this is not something unusual: we are facing a straordinary match. The history of this society says that this opportunity took place only twice. In 1984 and now. This is the moment when we should forget everything else and only support the team. Curva Sud's guys said they have to bring flags and voice. I said something more".

What is this "something more"?
"I would like Rome to be coloured in yellow and red. Starting from today. I would like to see every single Roma supporter exposing his flags on his balcon: I would like them to make the world understand that Rome supports Roma. In this moment we speak about violence, but let's make them understand that Roma supporters are not violent. This is the moment to gather all of us together. Beating Liverpool it's harder than beating Barcelona. There is no tomorrow, all ends on Wednesday, we must not leave anything inside. Every grandfather, every nephew, every son, every mother: everyone plays on Wednesday. I was lucky, because I won a lot at Sevilla, but I have never thought I could arrive at Uefa Champions League's Final. This is a dream. I told my wife. I dreamt a lot of things and a lot came true, but inside my mind there had never been the Champions League's Final. Everyone has to do what he has to do. Alisson with a save, Dzeko with a goal, Daniele with a pass, the others who do not play should transmit their support to the team. And we should be convinced that this is possible, because it is easier in this way".

Is the team convinced?
"Yes, I think. But this does not mean that it will be easy, I do not know if you have read the banners inside the locker room".

Yes. Where are the phrases you have chosen from?
"I had them inside my mind. Sometimes I like to bring them outside my mind, sometimes it is better to keep them inside".

You often express them on Twitter.
"I did it also when I was in Sevilla, I like to give the charge. I think the team is convinced that it is possible, knowing it is hard. Liverpool has the advantage, we have the Olimpico. They have the 5-2, we have the stadium. Rome".

It is harder than Barça...
"It is different, we had not deserved to loose 4-1 there. Maybe we deserved to loose with a more disadvantage at Liverpool".

Someone does not agree.
"Let's say that in both matches we layed the foundations for the comeback. When they had Roma's pression they struggled. We have to take those final 10 minutes and move on. Sure, this time we do not have the surprise factor. We have to do different things. Then soccer is both the coach and the players. We have to push. If Liverpool passes we will make our greetings. Applauses. But inside us nothing should remain, we should give everything we have".

What do you expect outside the field?
"I hope it will be peaceful and that it will be an useful day to demonstrate the world we are civil. I hope it will be a soccer celebration. I think that, in the field of security, everything has been done rightly".

Could this situation influence the referee?
"I hope it doesn't. I have always believed the referees are and should be autonomous".

Do you fear the eventual decisions that Uefa could undertake?
"Fortunately there are just few precedents, but for me the important thing is that when an institutional body makes a decision, this decision has to be equal to a solution for the problem, that there should be a sense in the decision".

How has the team felt the incidents?
"I think that inside everyone of them there is a bit of warning. They only want to play soccer".

Have you watched the Final against Liverpool of 1984?
"I do not remember, I have seen just few images. For Roma supporters it is always a return game. I think that there are enough things to give the charge, but I think it is better for the players to look forward. This is the chance to do what everyone dreamt. The charge is already at the top level, we should only manage it. I know that yesterday, but even before yesterday, there was Chievo, but it could be normal that everyone had their mind set on Wednesday. No one of us had ever had the chance to be near this success".

Totti has never played a Champions League's Final.
"Nor Ibrahimovic. Daniele, Aleksandar, Edin... They all have the charge".

They were so sad after the first-leg.
"It is normal, it could be a missed chance".

Could the victories against SPAL and Chievo be a signal of matureness?
"To be here speaking about a Final is already a signal of growth. I think we should not stop here, regardless of what we will do. It is not only about the qualification, but it is about the way we will approach the match. Doing a match like a big team would be already a step for our matureness".

Did you learn something new about Di Francesco in these days?
"It is hard to find him out of the way, out of himself. I am a bit maniacal, maybe our relationship was born in this way. Sometimes I am a bit hotter. I come from the Southern Spain, but it is hot even here... I like Di Francesco, I did not know him from this point of view. I had spoken with him three times before I chose to take him, but even when you get an engagement, in the first times, you do not tell negative things. After one year of work, in which we lived hard times, I have always found a calm person, I liked how he managed complex moments. It is important even for my work to have a serene person in front of me. If you have a person that changes his mind every single day, you would not know what to do".

Let's speak about Schick, did you expect these difficulties?
"I expected this kind of path, I knew he could not succed immediately. It is true that he had an important phisical problem, then he had never been in good conditions during the first six months, and he played under pressure. Even this one is a signal of matureness. He could stay back, but he has always wanted to play and put his face. We are near to see the real Patrik, but I think that we are still a bit far from that. During the first half against Chievo and during the match against Barcelona we have seen the Schick we want to see".

Have you met other players that have done the same path?
"Many have done a similar path. Dani Alves spent one year and a half to acquire everyone's trust, he seemed a normal player in the very first moments. But it was the same for Luis Fabiano, Kanoute. Here we have the example of Ünder. Or Pellegrini, grown in Trigoria. It deserves time. I have done the same path in Sevilla, from the second to the first team, and one of my former teammate, Nacho, has always told me that it is not hard to arrive, but it is hard to stay. The problem is to stay at the top level like De Rossi, Dzeko, Totti".

Did you think again about what had happened to Dzeko in January? It could be wrong to sell him?
"Two things: if Edin has been sold, we would have brought someone. Future cannot be forecasted. Another thing: do you think that if Rome had really wanted to sell Dzeko one hundred percent Roma would not have sold it? That we would not have helped Chelsea to convince Edin? I really think none of the three was convinced. We, because we know his possibilities. He, because he is happy here. Chelsea, because the profile of a thirty-two years old player does not correspond to their programs. It happens that you are dealing with someone, but you are not convinced and you think about how to get out of it. Nobody was convinced. Edin came out before Emerson".

"Let's sum. It came firstly the chance to sell Dzeko. Then there was the possibility to sell Emerson. The sale of Emerson helped us to be more serene. When the sale of Emerson became more complicated we struggled a bit, because we should sell someone. For this reason the path with Edin was longer. It is not easy to negotiate knowing that you need money. When we found the agreement for Emerson it was easier to exit Dzeko's question".

We have a doubt about Roma's philosophy, even if we understand that often there was not any alternative.
"Wait, if you reduce the wages there is an alternative".

Ok, but the doubt is: would Roma sell the 26-years-old Totti today?
"I do not know, maybe you will find other players that allows you to not sell Totti. Like in the case of Salah. I am not stupid. Today we are in a different situation, but one year ago... Roma's data are public. Roma sells Salah, Paredes and Rudiger, and closes the market 42 milions down. It wasn't simple, we had to find solutions. Now it is different. It depends on us if we sell. The situation has changed, I do not know if totally, but a lot anyway, We will continue with a strong ambition. It is true that sometimes we have to sell, but we have a strong team. The medal has two faces, sometimes they do not look at each other".

The question is linked to the feeling of belonging. Are "some" flag players untransferable?
"Supporters do support for the players and for the success. Totti is a different thing, as Daniele. If you tell a supporter "I sell Dzeko but I win the Scudetto", everyone would say "OK". For me to understand our own team means this too. You know that they are the last thing you should touch. You sell the car, you sell a jewel, only as a last resource you sell your father's house. You know what are your priorities. We sold the car. Today things are different, we are not in a perfect situation, but we are in a better situation".

Is the feeling of belonging important to win or is it a limit?
"It is obviously a value, not a limit. But I say it another time, I prefer strong players that allow me to win, more than supporters of their own team. I like mercenaries: the ones that you have to pay and that make for what they are worth. Then, when you speak with me about Totti and De Rossi you speak about very strong players that are not just supporters. Supporters should be supporters":

Alisson is an example.
"Supporters want him because he is strong. Supporters are not stupid. Radja is a favourite because he is strong".

Also Monchi is not a Roma supporter, but he is strong.
"No, I have still a lot to learn, I am a Sevilla supporter, but today I support Roma".

Did you imagine Rome like this?
"Yes and no".

Has something disappointed you?
"I knew that it was a hot place, but I didn't know the dimension. I didn't know the repercussions that are in here. Here everyone works in the open air, under the sunlight, it can be something good, but also something bad. I understood that with the time. I should search the Monchi that Roma needed, the Sevilla's one maybe is not needed".

What has changed more?
"I am used to it. It is not simple to know that with everything you do you will eventually disappoint someone. I needed time to understand that I wasn't crazy. Maybe I am an heir of Bilardo, I am maniacal for the details. Details give me reason for some things, you know. And this is true also for the locker room, for warehouses, for physiotherapists. There are things I believe in, Saturday's banners do not bring goals, but the sum of small things leads to big things".

Have you calculated how much the final would cost you in terms of player's bonuses?
"Not so much. I remember taking a player, Martino, who was then the coach of Tenerife. I took him for zero in 2004, his prosecutor wanted to put the bonuses on the league, on the Europa League, I told him to put, put, no problem ... and he has become rich! I'm not sure, but on an individual level I do not know about any prize for the Cup. Obviously the prizes are not a thought at all".

Have you ever thought you had made the wrong choice?
"Never. Maybe I should have understood better where I had arrived. I am methodical and I trusted my instinct. I did the phenomenon, I thought I could repeat Seville".

Did Real look for you?
"Florentino has never called me".

And the Psg?
"Yes, but it's different. Like England. But I needed a place where I could play the traditional sportive director".

You would have earned a lot more money.
"To be happy, I need other things. In Sevilla, the President would have given me what I wanted".

Liverpool suffered the last defeat in Europe against your Sevilla.
"Three to one. It was a game that we can take as an example. In the first half, finished at the disadvantage of one goal, I arrived in the locker room, as I often do, but that time I did not know what to say because they had outclassed us. After 45 seconds of the second half Gameiro scored and everything changed".

Is there a game plan for Wednesday?
"Barcelona's was a good plan. We have to get into the second half with the chance to believe it".

The last question has to be this: do you know Di Bartolomei?
"I know him, but I do not know his story very well. I know he is the captain of 1984. I know it's a symbol for generations of supporters. I do not want to be disrespectful, indeed the opposite, but perhaps in this situation we need other memories, I am convinced that Di Bartolomei would also agree. It's a time when we have so much to gain and very little to lose. In the head of the players it must arrive clear positivity. Friday was twelve years from the goal of Puerta in the semifinals with Schalke, a goal that changed the history of Sevilla. Then, when he died, at the sixteenth minute it was customary to make silence at the stadium. We thought that the players could go down. Then silence has been transformed into applauses. In general I still miss a lot of Roma's history, I have to recover. I want to do it".

Wednesday he will live it.

Translated by Andrea Lambertucci