What did you make of the game? What did you like and dislike about your team’s performance?
“I didn’t enjoy our first half performance, neither on an individual nor collective level. We were sluggish and lacked aggression. We didn’t implement what we’d been working on in training off the ball and when attempting to dictate play in possession. We were lucky to go 1-0 up because we’d done nothing to deserve it.
“I appreciated the way we reacted after Sheriff scored. I liked how we got a goal and created chances, but most of all how we dominated play. Yes, we lacked aggression and weren’t that ambitious, but we controlled the game and denied the opposition a sniff of the ball. I think we deserved to win, which is the most important thing in such a group, in such a game.”
What’s the latest on Renato Sanches, who came off in the first half? Hossem Aouar came back from injury and his lack of sharpness was evident. However he did improve as the game went on.
“Both of them need minutes in order to get up to speed with the rhythm and intensity of the games. Unfortunately it’s difficult to understand Renato’s situation – Bayern Munich and PSG also struggled in this regard, as are we. The gamble today didn’t pay off. He’s a top player who needs to see action. He played 45 minutes in the last game, then had days off to rest and prepare, and was ready to play for 45 minutes today. Unfortunately he felt that something was up.
“As for Aouar, he was holding something back. I see this as a fear of pushing yourself after coming back from a muscle injury. He played for about an hour but he needs to get back to his best.”
Is Edoardo Bove starting to play his way into the starting eleven?
“I’ve got no set starting eleven. I don’t think Bove deserved the game time he got today more so than how much he played last week or a fortnight ago. He’s a reliable player - we know what he can do. Two years ago he was just a kid who was playing on loan in Serie C while today he’s a player with such potential that you ask yourself whether he should be a starter or not. He’s a top lad.”
Did you expect Romelu Lukaku to be so fired up and fighting fit?
“I did. Owing to his physique he’s the kind of player who needs to play and be as agile as possible. This can only be achieved by amassing game time – that’s why I played him.
“I thought about subbing him off earlier, but given I’d already made four changes I was worried that something might happen to another one of my players. That’s why I only brought on Andrea Belotti for Lukaku in the last 15 minutes. The extra minutes did Lukaku some good.”
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