Luciano Spalletti insists that Roma must show greater mental strength if they are to avoid dropping more points like at Cagliari on Sunday night. Goals by Diego Perotti and Kevin Strootman established a two-goal advantage at the Stadio Sant'Elia before the Giallorossi surrendered their lead and ended up drawing 2-2. Speaking after the game, Spalletti rued his side's failure to hold on to their winning position and leave Sardinia with all three points: “What we can learn from tonight is that we need to be stronger mentally,” he told journalists during his post-match press duties. “We need to be more focused on our objectives. We could have seen the game out but at the first sign of difficulty we lost our way.”
Was this a game where you needed to show you're over the Porto defeat?
"We had two chances to snatch victory at the end. We were still determined to win even after Cagliari got themselves level and we came within a whisker of restoring our lead. At that point we were playing well but it's hard to explain why we played the way we did when it was 2-1. We won back possession 10 times but failed to play the easy pass. If you can't do the simple things, you'll struggle to do the more difficult ones. In any case the coach is mostly to blame.”
Roma have lots of top international players but many of them seem to come up short when they play for Roma...
“Personally I don't think that happens very often but we do need to work on it. Sometimes we lack a bit of character.”
You made a tough call on the captain's armband. What's your reasoning there?
“It's easy to explain. We have an internal code and we're a close-knit group. [Daniele] De Rossi himself agrees with having rules that apply to everyone. It's all under control. Was it only for one game? That depends on what sanctions will be decided. Daniele is as upset as anyone but he knows we have these regulations and he believes in them.”
Roma don't seem to be able to win without playing well. Is it hard to play ugly and still be efficient?
“It does seem to be very hard for us. There were times when we nearly threw away a lead last year too. Sometimes we ease off too much and I don't understand why. We need to do better in that respect. We must maintain a high level of quality.”
Are the Porto wounds still too fresh?
“We can't use that as an excuse. You won't win much if you fade after your first defeat. If you don't know how to respond to these things you may as well stop playing now. We played well at times and less well at others. We go home with a draw because that's what we deserve.”
How important was it for Kevin Strootman to score?
“Very important. We've got a great player back. And [Edin] Dzeko did brilliantly to set him up for it.”