Luciano Spalletti hailed the professional job done by his players, after they ended 2016 with a 3-1 win over Chievo on Thursday. The Giallorossi picked up their ninth straight home win of the current campaign on the night, thanks to goals from Stephan El Shaarawy, Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti. And Spalletti was delighted at the effort shown by his squad, after they came from behind to secure the three points.
“It was a well-deserved win," Spalletti said. "The team worked hard from the first minute until the 90th – I want to congratulate my players because they’ve ended the year in exceptional fashion. It was a delicately poised match, but they showed professionalism and determination. Right from the first minute, they showed they wanted the three points and they made sure they got them by playing with quality and competitiveness.”
You’ve won nine from nine at home. Is the Stadio Olimpico becoming a fortress?
“It’s still quite difficult to explain – this is still our home, still the Olimpico. The fans want to win with us and help us improve. That can definitely make all the difference.”
We saw you go and thank the fans tonight.
“I went down in front of the section that always sings. They really help us – you can hear them and it gives us an added boost.”
Have you earned a contract extension?
“My contract isn’t a problem. What matters is that Roma are doing well and winning matches like they have tonight. The most important thing is that we’ve found that spark that helps us play good football and stay determined from start to finish, with no lapses. Character is about coming here and saying: ‘I’m going to win this match – no ifs, no buts.’ That was how it was today.”
Tonight’s match was all about mental strength and personality:
“I agree. Character is becoming key for us. We got a few things wrong in the first half because we weren’t showing enough motivation, but the team did really well and created lots of chances. We spent the whole game in their half of the pitch and they only made two chances. It was a great performance and the intensity was spot on. [Rolando] Maran has done an amazing job – Chievo keep their passing shorter than almost any other team but then they produce some direct plays out of nowhere. The fact that we’ve created so many chances and won the game tonight tells you we’re in good shape.”
Will there be any arrivals in January?
“The club is alert to anything that might happen. [Mohamed] Salah is off to the African Cup of Nations and we have a few unhappy players because they’ve not played much. Everyone always says that we have a light squad but we have players like [Juan Manuel] Iturbe not playing, even though he always trains well. It’s my fault he’s not played.”
How do you rate Roma’s 2016?
“It was almost as if we may as well have thrown everything out of the window after the Juventus defeat, but in actual fact we’ve taken 84 points from 37 games, which is just below Barcelona and in line with the biggest teams in Europe. The problem in Italy is that Juventus always have such a great record, but if you look at the general stats you see that Roma are up there with the top four.”