Coach Jose Mourinho had plenty of praise for his Roma players after they romped to a 4-0 win over Salernitana on Sunday night.
After a tense first half that saw no breakthrough for either side, Lorenzo Pellegrini scored early in the second half to send the Giallorossi on their way - as some impressive football ended up helping the side add plenty of gloss to the final scoreline.
Here's what the boss had to say after the contest...
Lorenzo Pellegrini has said that your words at half-time were key tonight – that you said if they kept playing like they had then the goal would arrive eventually…
“There was no way we weren’t going to win tonight. I was calm from the first minute. The team played really, really well. I told them that, against Fiorentina, even when we were 1-0 up and a man up, I was worried about the game – whereas tonight when it was 0-0 and 11 against 11 I was completely calm. The team dominated every moment of the match.
“Perhaps people will say that we didn’t create much [early on], but we played high up the pitch, we pressed well and we didn’t give them any openings at all. They had a couple of glimpses, one after we made it 2-0, but other than that we were in complete control.
“We did everything we needed to do: we tired them out, we made the right runs in behind, we executed some of the plans that we worked on in training yesterday. I am pleased if Lorenzo thinks that I transmitted that attitude to the players.”
What are your thoughts now, after two months here?
“When I arrived I was happy: I was coming back to Italy, to a team with proper fans, to a nation that really has a huge passion for the game. The people in Italy have a special bond with their clubs. I needed to come back and feel that once again.
“I can’t say that I was calm, but I can say that the key word from the Friedkins was ‘time’. And time brings a little more calm. But I don’t want too much calm, I don’t want too much time, because that’s against my nature. If time means we finish seventh or eighth, then I don’t want that. I want to accelerate the process, if it’s possible.
“This is a good group. If you look at the bench today, then obviously I would like a bit more quality, a bit more experience – because you always run into moments when a squad needs to have a bit more experience, and not just when they are on the pitch. It’s clear that there are other teams who have more options than we have.
“But I like working with these lads and I like going up against bigger sides and playing to win. Perhaps we will lose some and perhaps we will draw others – but I don’t want to change the approach of the team just because we are playing against one of the big sides. And that’s how we have to go forward, little by little.”
Bryan Cristante seems to be a player who gives you balance and leadership in the middle of the park – and he could still improve too.
“The team is doing well and Cristante is doing well. It’s difficult to do well as a player when the team isn’t doing so well, and it’s impossible for a player to do well when a team isn’t functioning well.
“Cristante is the sort of player that I like, to give balance to the side. Today he played a bit deeper, because Salernitana always try to move the ball forward quickly. Even without Simy [starting], they are a team that look to go long quickly and it was important to have Cristante there in front of Mancini and Ibanez.
“Later in the game we dropped Pellegrini and Veretout back a bit, so they could pick up the second balls, and we really dominated the game. After we went 2-0 up Cristante had a bit more freedom and moved around a bit more to help the build-up play on both the left and the right, with Veretout pushed a bit higher. The team did well to work out what to do in different moments of the match. I was really pleased.”
In a season where so many teams seem so evenly balanced, is it the coaches like you that will make the difference?
“The players are more important than we are. I am pleased to be back here and to be running into a new generation of coaches. The ones from my era are here too. I’m waiting for Don Claudio [Ranieri] to be back. Perhaps Antonio [Conte] has different ideas. But we’re back: me, Max [Allegri], [Maurizio] Sarri.
“It’s great for us and perhaps it is for the next generation too, who have positive ideas about the game. But absolutely it is the players that are more important.”