The Trial and Execution of Daniele Pradè

There was a scene after last week's introductory press conference at Trigoria in which Daniele Pradè saluted the club's new CFO, Claudio Fenucci. Daniele Pradè rose from his position in the crowd, Fenucci stepped down from his seat at the podium. As they embraced and kissed each other on the cheek, they embodied on microlevel the change that is taking place in the club. New people are being added to key positions, none of them have grown up inside Rome or Roma. They don't have that thick, unmistakable accent; they're professionals handpicked from afar to do a job. Pradè, I claim, was a little bit of both even for all the discontent and vitriol his persona provokes in fans. Part of the homemade solution of Rosella's Roma, Pradè is and always has been a fan of Roma. His dedication to the club has never been in question. But we wanted someone better in his position--that's fair. There are those better than him, in fact, the club has two of them employed right now. But he too deserves a defense.

To be certain, he made many mistakes. Yet mistakes are an inescapable part of every DS's work, which shouldn't be forgotten. But all the more important to note is this: for several summers straight, the club handed Pradè only a fig leaf with which to cover himself and the club. All the while, his hands were handcuffed by Roma being strapped for resources and ideas as a state of default, not exception. Tasked to make Roma take that last step, he was given neither patience to build something for the longterm nor enough resources to bridge the distance to Inter immediately. Being the DS for a club with little or no money is hard enough; harder still when you consider the gap in wages to the ever-present rival of this generation's Roma, Inter. Hard becomes harder, which quickly becomes nigh impossible when factoring in the sometimes absurd expectations Roma's fans have of the club.

And we haven't even discussed the raging hypocrisy (or to give the benefit of the doubt; the negativity bias) fans employ when discussing the past. Cicinho has been a bust for Roma. But I don't hold that against Pradè, because I myself thought it to be a good signing at the time, offering an elusive marriage between availability and an upgrade to an already good starting 11. The fans taking over Fiumicino to greet Julio Baptista don't like to pretend that he was seen by many as a big-time signing three years ago, but waste no time in listing him as one of Pradè's most damning failures. (I myself was diametrically opposed the signing of Julio Baptista at the time, but the truth is that it wasn't that big a failure on Pradè's part. He did well during his first season, in atrocious conditions, and was then never given a real chance by Ranieri. For this latter part, Pradè can hardly be blamed.) And on it goes, often forgetting pertinent facts such as Pradè signing one of this Roma's two key players, Pizarro, from the greatest sporting rival.

Back to the press conference last week. Pradè could have chosen to stay, and (once again) become Baldini's vice. In many ways, it would have been a good life: well-paying job, several years worth of contract left, working in and for the club he loves. His professional pride most likely forbids him, though. This is speculation, but I'd say that he recognizes that the club is trusting Sabatini with his old job, so prefers to move away to avoid any conflicts and continue along the career path he's staked out for himself. And that makes him every bit as professional as the ones replacing him, lest we forget.