Tonight was arguably one of the worst performances of your tenure here. Nothing went well, stemming from the team’s approach, especially in the first half. Would you agree with this assessment?
“I’ll apologise to those in the [DAZN] studio because I’d rather not say too much. Following the final whistle I didn’t really speak to my players other than a few greetings. Given that I don’t even want to talk to the players I don’t really feel comfortable analysing the match in depth and answering questions fielded to me from a TV studio.
“You’re right, we got off to a bad start. Their first goal was a poor one to concede, just like the one Verona got early doors against us. We responded well and found an equaliser. However, Diego [Llorente] picked up an injury and this disrupted our team’s structure. Things then started to go downhill.
“When the score was at 2-1, and taking into account the kind of referee who was in charge, we decided to sub off the already-cautioned [Gianluca] Mancini. This again impacted the team’s structure, although we improved in spite of this. During the period in which we had that goal [by Romelu Lukaku] ruled out for offside I felt like an equaliser was coming. Genoa were pinned back and we were dominating the game, even if we weren’t creating many clear-cut chances.
“They really shut up shop and we poured forward, with [Andrea] Belotti, [Sardar] Azmoun and everyone else camped out in their box. Their goal to make it 3-1 really killed the game as a contest, although their fourth doesn’t really represent what happened as part of the match as a whole. In these cases you can succumb to a real disaster and concede five or six.”
Roma have conceded 12 goals so far this season. Is your team’s strong rearguard from 2022/23 a thing of the past?
“You’re right, there’s no doubt about that. I’d rather hold back with my thoughts. People say or have said things about Roger Ibanez’s mistakes when on the ball, which impacted on some situations in some important games. However the truth is that Ibanez made us really solid in defence. Also, take a look at how many games we won without Chris Smalling.
“When we’re missing certain players we lack solidity. However, to state that our weakening of solidity is the result of the absence of this or that player wouldn’t be correct. Our lack of defensive stability is down to the team as a whole - what happens when we lose possession and when we drop deeper.
“It’s true, we’re not as tight in defence. Every shot at our goal seems to go in. I’m not pointing my finger at Rui [Patricio] but rather the overall scenario we’re going through. This is how it went – they scored with their first effort, then [Mateo] Retegui doubled their lead with their second attempt, then following much dogged defending they got their third from a corner. The same thing has happened in every match. Torino scored with a header from [Duvan] Zapata in the first minute which really conditioned what was to come. This is our current reality – I can feel this on the bench and my players definitely feel it on the pitch.”
How much longer do we not look at the table? Because today was a really bad day and Roma have had their worst start to a season in the three-points for a win era.
“It’s also my worst start to a season as a coach. However I don’t think that Roma had ever appeared in two consecutive European finals [before last season].”
Llorente’s name has now been added to the injury list. Does this come down to preparation or the number of games the players are facing?
“Did you ask [Alberto] Gilardini the same question, or just to me who lost the game?”
I did also ask Gilardini this question…
“It’s because of this – they played 48 hours before us and had two players succumb to injury. If I’m not mistaken five players missed out because of muscle injuries. Diego has a history of fitness issues – he often suffers with muscle injuries. He’s played three games in a row so for me it's not a big surprise."
Does this group of players have what it takes to get out of this situation?
“These are the players we’ve got and we have to get out of this situation with them. That’s how it is. The transfer window is closed – there will be no comings and goings. This is the squad we have, for better and worse. We have to move forward – there’s no time to lament. I might show my feelings behind the scenes because it really affects me emotionally, especially given my relationship with the fans. We’ll be working hard from tomorrow ahead of our next game. Three points will be at stake – it’s not like we’re in six-pointer territory already – but it’s a huge game for us now.”
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