Before the match you said that when Paulo Dybala is happy there’s a feel-good factor around the team. This was certainly the case tonight. Would you say that Dybala was your best player or would you single out somebody else?
“As the coach I have to see things differently, or at least make it seem that way. Everyone played well, although 7-0 doesn’t reflect the performance. These things happen, it’s not like you set out to win 7-0. We played to win, and to win at ease. While we performed decently there were some ups and downs. Some of our players weren’t capable of playing the full 90 owing to fitness issues. We managed the game well and then sometimes you end up winning 4-0 or 7-0. I feel for Empoli, but that’s football for you.”
Romelu Lukaku scored just before coming off.
“That wasn’t a big deal for me. Maybe it was for him – you know what footballers are like, especially forwards, they live to score. He’s an intelligent player who since arriving has made it clear that first and foremost what matters is that Roma score, not that he scores. He had the perfect evening, getting a goal in the front of the Curva before leaving the pitch, a happy ending to his game for him. Nothing changes for me in my view. He provided something different to the team. We have to learn to adapt to him, because we’re yet to figure out how the team and Romelu can work together. We need time to hone this in training, as well as through match experience. Despite today’s performance there were some things I saw which I didn’t enjoy – we’ll analyse these back at Trigoria. I’m talking about the team as a whole, not about Romelu.”
Roma’s midfield was discussed in the pre-match press conference. Did you like how your midfielders played? I suppose Renato Sanches was taken off to manage his workload. Did you enjoy Leandro Paredes’ performance?
“Yes, I did. Paredes is also short on fitness. He didn't take part in a single training session with PSG. He came here and two days later he was named on the bench for our game against Salernitana. Then he went away on international duty, only playing five minutes. He needs game time, but managed game time. He needs to work on his role because while in possession he’s a wonderful number six who possesses qualities we lack, his intensity could be better. His focus on defending needs to be polished, especially when we’re in a low block. There’s a lot to be improved."
What frame of mind was Lukaku in when he joined?
“Happy. Romelu needs to feel loved and wanted. When he came here, he could sense the team needed a player like him. I think he's really happy. He likes to win – that's in his nature. Inter have no reason to be angry as they won the derby 5-1 and have an amazing team with lots of forwards. They should be happy for their former coach, who needed Lukaku.”
What kind of message have Roma sent out to the rest of Serie A today?
“That's not how I see it. I know how it works. I get how the media works and how it influences some fans but I didn't think we were the team people were saying we were the last few weeks, nor did I think I'm as bad a coach as people said last week. The same goes for today: the team and I haven't suddenly become extraordinary. We must keep working away calmly. We have the potential to get better and do well. Just as I said yesterday that our only target was to win today, now I say that our objective is to win on Thursday.”
Are you confident you have the squad to deal with the Europa League and the other competitions?
“We'll need to manage players. For example we have three centre-backs now and no one else. We need to manage situations. We managed Renato for 45 minutes and Dybala again today. There are some games where it's hard to manage those situations. We're a bit unlucky too because Atalanta for example are playing Thursday and then Monday while we're playing Thursday and Sunday. Someone in the Lega doesn't like me. We have this kind of difficulty but we'll see. We'll certainly change a few things around for Thursday. Although it's not important for you, as the coach of a team like Roma I'm happy that after four games a player like [Riccardo] Pagano has got to feature in several already.”
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