The Portuguese tactician will arrive in the capital with a growing reputation, leaving Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk having won the league and cup in all three seasons with the club.
Now preparing for a new challenge, in his first interview as incoming Giallorossi boss Fonseca explains why he wanted to come to Roma, the style of football he will try to employ at the club, and much more...
Welcome to the club Paulo, how are you feeling right now?
“I’m happy, I’m very excited. I’m very optimistic about this challenge. From the very beginning I have not had any doubts about wanting to come to Roma. It’s a big club, with great support - and I want to build something that can bring confidence and enthusiasm to the club and the supporters. I’m very thankful to President Pallotta and Guido [Fienga] for this opportunity and I’m very excited.”
Tell us about Paulo Fonseca the coach. How would you describe yourself?
“I find it difficult to speak about myself, I would prefer others to speak about me. But I am a coach with a lot of passion. I love my work, I love my job. I’m an enthusiastic guy and I want to pass my passion on to the people who work with me. I love the game, I love football and I want the people around me to share that same passion for the sport.”
What sort of team can the fans expect from you?
“First of all, I expect a courageous team. A team that wants to play against the biggest teams and the smallest teams with the same approach. We have to build a competitive team, a team that can play with quality and a team that plays a style off football to make the fans proud. For me the quality of the performance is very important. Of course we want to win – the main goal is to win – but equally we want to build a team that has real quality about its play.”
You’ve said yourself before that you can be unhappy even after a win, if the team doesn’t play well...
“For me it is not enough to win. I like to win, but I also want to see our ideas implemented out there on the pitch. I want to see a high quality of performance, a performance that can excite the fans. The fans must go home after the game and, I hope, say that the team played well and they won because they were courageous. That is very important for me.”
You had three very successful seasons at Shakhtar. What was it about Roma, and this project, that convinced you to leave that behind?
“Well, I have always wanted to coach in one of the biggest leagues in Europe. Italy is one of the strongest leagues in Europe. Roma is one of the biggest clubs in Europe. I am very ambitious and it was one of the main goals in my career to eventually coach one of the biggest teams in Europe. When this opportunity came up, coming after three years of great success in Ukraine, I felt it was the right time to leave and try and realise my dream.”
Serie A is known to be a very tactical league, a very challenging league...
“That is why Italian football excites me, because it is very tactical and very difficult. Every week, every match is a big challenge for the coach. I am very motivated to create something with our team, something that can surprise the other teams. Every week we will work in training to surprise the other team. Italy has a lot of teams that work very well, that are strong tactically and especially good defensively. It will be a big challenge but I love challenges like that.”
A lot of Italian teams are getting stronger and the competition at the top of the table is going to be tough...
“In Italy we have a lot of strong teams and I think this year will be more competitive than ever before. Antonio Conte is now back, perhaps Maurizio Sarri will be back, and lots of very important players are here. The teams are only getting stronger and stronger and this is great for football, great for Italian fans.”
You’ve faced this Roma team in the past and have studied our games. What are your first impressions of the squad you are inheriting?
“Roma have a lot of quality in the squad. The most important thing I need to understand is the best way to use the players to make the most of their abilities. I believe that a lot of the players have the quality to play the courageous, ambitious, attacking game that I want to implement. A style where we dominate the opponent. I am sure the players have the qualities required for that.”
Is there a particular formation fans can expect from you?
“Well, I generally like to play in a 4-2-3-1 - but the system is not the most important thing. The most important thing is the dynamics and the principles within that system. I hope to build a very dynamic team here.”
You potentially have a very short pre-season ahead of you – with competitive matches perhaps starting earlier than usual - which perhaps is not ideal. Will it take time for players to adjust to what you want from them?
“Look, I have to admit it will be difficult – we might have just four weeks of pre-season before the first game. So I think we will have to adapt our ideas very, very quickly. I would perhaps prefer to have more time but that is not something we can control, so we will use those first four weeks as well as we can to be ready for the first game.”
Do you set yourself public goals for the season or do you prefer to keep your objectives to yourself?
“The only thing I can promise is to build a competitive and courageous team. Like I have already said, I am sure that we will build a team that the supporters can be proud of. This will happen, I’m sure of it. A courageous team, an ambitious team. And if you have these ingredients then you will have a better chance of winning.”
Finally, Roma have an incredibly large and passionate fanbase, both in Rome and abroad. Do you have a message for those fans?
“I would just like to say to the fans that together we can build a strong team. We need the support of our fans. I know they love the club and I believe that together we can become stronger and stronger. I am sure the supporters will become proud of our team, because we will fight for them and we will fight to create something special. I know they will be on our side.
“I speak a lot about ‘courage’ and I know that the supporters can play a role in giving us that courage too. I believe that, when we walk out at our stadium, they will be the first ones giving us that motivation and encouragement. And, from that moment, we will have to fight and be courageous for them.”
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