Roma boss was interviewed today by the club’s official website and discussed the resumption of Serie A, which is less than two weeks away.
Here’s what the 47 year-old had to say:
What does the Europa League mean for the team this season?
Playing on Thursdays is not easy and we have often gone out there with essentially the same side – but nevertheless, for us it is a really important competition. We want to go as far as we possibly can.
We have to play Sevilla, and we know all about their quality and their record in this competition – but they will find themselves going up against a Roma side that is determined to win.
What’s been the best goal so far this season?
I won’t chose a goal because it was aesthetically beautiful – but one because it was important. Dzeko’s against Bologna, in the final minute. It was a key moment for us, in terms of our character, because the team fought hard to win that game and to do it in that manner was just amazing.
During games we’ve seen you go from 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 – or even use a three-man defence. How do you change the way your side plays?
Changing things is not easy, or necessarily better: you need time to do it, and with so many games in quick succession it can make it difficult to assimilate certain ideas. But you can change things. And we have done that at times, while always sticking to our core principles, our playing philosophy.
You can and should be able to change formations without changing the core ideas behind the way we play. That has to be the case – especially here in Italy. I am not a coach that is tied to one particular way of playing.
How do you get going again, after such a long pause like this?
It’s not been easy, keeping the players motivated and focused at home – but I have to say that the players have been great throughout. They all stayed in Rome and that’s no small thing; it’s not easy and it’s not something every club has done.
Since we’ve been back I immediately realised one thing: they are all incredibly motivated.
How is the squad physically?
We’ve done a lot of tests on the players, after two months like this, and they all came back in better shape than they would have done after a month on holiday.
What can we expect to see on the pitch when the season resumes?
The intensity of the first few games might not be the same, but I think after four or five games we will all be back at the same level as before.
Does playing every three days mean there will be a lot of rotation?
Definitely. With a long period of games so close together it’s not easy to keep the same team on the pitch – you need to have options. Rotation will be vital.
Does that mean having five substitutions will be useful?
Right now, yes. For now it’s important, you just have to see how many injuries there have been in Germany already to realise that. We will also be playing during some of the hottest weeks of the year.
And then after that, it gives you more options. It means the coach has the option to do it, though – it doesn’t mean he absolutely has to.
Would you like the option to remain in the future too?
I don’t think so. Five subs favours the bigger sides with the bigger squads. And so that would make it even harder for others – it’s better to have more competitive balance, it benefits everyone.
How is Nicolo Zaniolo doing?
He’s not training with the squad, but he’s getting closer to that point. He’s recovered really well, he’s ahead of schedule – but we don’t need to rush him back.
We won’t call upon him for the first few games, but from July perhaps he will be available to get involved.
What about Davide Zappacosta?
Davide is doing well – he’s ready. He’s training as normal with his teammates and will definitely be in consideration throughout this period.
What is you target for the end of the season?
We want to qualify for the Champions League, even if we know that will be an extremely tough task. Our rivals are ahead of us in the table, and are really strong too. There’s not much time to make up ground, but we will try to do it – one game at a time.
One thing is for sure: we will be a stronger side than we were before the stop, and we will try to show what Roma could really look like in future. Recently we have been able to work on a number of different things and the players have always worked hard. They are all highly motivated.
It will be tough to finish in the top four, but we really want to show who we are and what we can be.