The Giallorossi were victorious thanks to goals from Stephan El Shaarawy, Edin Dzeko and Bruno Peres. They remain second in Serie A TIM, eight points behind leaders Juventus. You proved you can win tonight with some of the more fringe players in the team.
“It wasn’t an easy game. All of the players have to do their bit for us as we reach the end of the season. We need our entire squad.”
Edin Dzeko came on and found the back of the net – just how vital a player is he?
“Dzeko did well when he came off the bench. He was still feeling the effects of the previous game a bit. It’s only natural that the players who started on Thursday hadn’t fully recovered.”
It looked like Francesco Totti was going to come on at one point but that never materialised. What happened?
“He noticed an issue while he was warming up. He told me he had some back trouble and that he would prefer not to go on.”
You mixed the midfield up for the second half – was Leandro Paredes struggling to provide the necessary cover in a four-man midfield?
“Our plan tonight was to look to find [Mohamed] Salah and [Stephan] El Shaarawy in between the lines so they could target their centre-backs while our wingers dragged their full-backs wide. We could have done it better. Leo has a very specific skillset but he still needs to show where he expresses himself best. There aren’t many players with feet like his, but when it’s time to defend, he needs to cover a little bit more ground to provide cover.”
Could Clement Grenier be an alternative to Radja Nainggolan?
“His style is to play in between the lines and look to stick on the opposing central midfielder. He knows exactly when to press and rarely gives the ball away. Whenever he receives it, he always does something useful with it.”
Roma have six points more than they did at this stage last season. Were you expecting Juventus to raise their game even more?
“We’re always hoping that Juventus slip up at some point, but they’re like a moving target – always setting a different yardstick. We’re happy with what we’re doing, as Napoli probably are too. They’re a very good side and every time they seem like they’re in difficulty they dig deep and prove why they’re a successful team. We need to focus on taking one step at a time without getting fixated on our overall objective. If you do well now, you set yourself up to do well later too.”
We heard from James Pallotta in the run-up to the game…
“The president’s comments were fair. I manage the team and I’m responsible for what happens. I don’t have a problem with him criticising me – I would have responded had he criticised the players. I’d like to add that it’s a shame to see Palermo so far down. There were lots of fans outside our hotel and we didn’t get insulted once – we were made to feel very welcome. They have a great stadium and if there were a roof it would be absolutely perfect. The fans are smashing and applauded the team off at the end.”