Paulo Fonseca was left to rue a damaging second half at Old Trafford, after watching Roma beat Manchester United 3-2 on Thursday evening at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Giallorossi went out of the Europa League at the semi-final stage after an 8-5 aggregate defeat - after conceding five unanswered goals in last week's first leg.
Speaking after the game, Fonseca acknowledged that those 45 minutes had proven crucial.
Here's everything the Portuguese had to say...
How do you explain what happened in the second leg in Manchester, which ultimately decided the tie?
“It’s true, and it’s hard to explain. We lost the tie in those 45 minutes after the break at Old Trafford. Because both today and in the first half there we did well.”
What regrets are there, then, after today’s game?
“I thought it was still possible to get to the final, even if we were facing a side like Manchester United. Today, and in the first 45 minutes of the first leg, I think we showed that was possible. But we got the second half wrong in Manchester and from that point it was always going to be difficult to score four goals against a team like United. But we scored three and we could have scored a few more – but Manchester United took advantage of the few chances they had.”
Can you tell us a bit about how you have handled Ebrima Darboe’s development?
“Ebrima has trained with the first team a lot. He made his debut in the last game [against Sampdoria] and he’s been training well. When Chris Smalling got injured today, I thought it was a chance for him to play. I have to say that I had some thoughts about maybe having him start the game too. But he came on and did well, he looked to me like a player with a lot of experience and a lot of confidence. But obviously I’m not just pleased with him, but with Nicola Zalewski as well.”
What’s the best thing you will take with you from this experience at Roma?
“To have been the coach of Roma was a great honour. It was a great pleasure to be part of Italian football. I have learned a lot. We always need to look at the positives and there have been a lot in my career. It’s been a tough experience but a rewarding one.”
Will this be it for you in Italy, or could we see you again soon?
“Honestly, right now I do not know. I really like Italian football and Italy, but it all depends on the opportunity. We will see.”
Was there ever a moment when you considered resigning?
“No. I never thought about that. I am not someone that gives up. There were some difficult moments, but I was always focused on my work and on how I could help improve the team. You need to always keep perspective, even if sometimes the easiest option would be to walk away from the pressure.”
Have you had any messages from Jose Mourinho?
“Yes. I know him well. He’s acted very respectfully with me.”
Did he ask you for any advice?
“No, no. We will have time to talk, but I don’t think he needs advice from me.”
(Photo Getty Images)