Paulo Fonseca concedes Roma are so lacking in confidence that they “didn’t take any risks” in the 1-0 win over Gent, but stood up for Lorenzo Pellegrini after jeers from the crowd.
The early goal from Carles Perez on an Edin Dzeko assist proved enough for the 1-0 victory over KAA Gent, but the Europa League Round of 32 is wide open going into the second leg in Belgium.
“It was not a quality performance by any means, but this is a difficult moment, the team fought hard and did everything they could to turn the situation around,” Fonseca told Sky Sport Italia.
“Gent are a strong side, we didn’t play well, but the important things tonight were to keep a clean sheet and get the victory.”
It was at least a boost, their first victory in a month, having managed one draw from their last five competitive matches.
“We can’t run many risks at the moment, as when the confidence is so low, we need to be more practical. The passing lines now are not what they were a month ago.
“I think the players are trying their best and it was very important that we win this evening. If we don’t defend well, we can’t attack well. I always think the best form of defence is to have the ball, as we don’t need to defend if we’re in possession, but to do that, we need players with confidence who want the ball at their feet. At this moment in time, that is not the situation.
“I want to keep the ball not for the sake of it, but to find passing channels going forward. Today, I think the team opted not to run any risks, so made the safe sideways pass rather than going forward. This maintained the ball, we played a lot with Pau Lopez getting involved and we shouldn’t have so many back-passes.”
There were reports this week that the Roma squad had asked Fonseca for a change of tactical system, but he insisted that was not true.
“I am not closed to the idea of change, as I’ve already changed more here than in my entire career! Right now, we need to focus on improving the simple things and doing them well, rather than changing or seeking to complicate matters.
“When I believe we need to change system, there’s no problem in doing that.”
Carles Perez found the net this evening, so can he help Edin Dzeko not shoulder the entire weight of scoring all Roma’s goals?
“He is not a hitman, but he can score a fair few goals. He had a good performance, his first start for Roma, he was always eager to take the initiative and call for the pass. He has quality and can help the team.”
Some of the Stadio Olimpico crowd jeered Lorenzo Pellegrini when he was substituted this evening.
“I think Pellegrini is a very important player for this team. He feels the pressure more than the others, I talked to him about this. If we have a player who really loves Roma, it’s Pellegrini, so he feels the responsibility of this moment,” concluded Fonseca.
“We have to help him rediscover his confidence and joy. He’s young, feels the responsibility of Roma’s difficult moment more than others and has done so much for the club this season. We cannot forget how important Pellegrini is for Roma.”
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