Fonseca: ‘Roma in Year Zero’

Paulo Fonseca prepares for “highly-motivated” Lecce and insists even if Roma fail to qualify for the Champions League, it “won’t be a failure.”

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“Lecce are highly-motivated after three straight wins, they play good football and will try to build from the back from the very start. Their players love to have the ball at their feet and it’s going to be difficult for us,” said the coach in his press conference.

Roma ended their dismal streak of one draw from five competitive games with Thursday’s hard-fought 1-0 Europa League victory over KAA Gent.

“We could change two, three or four players for this game. We haven’t much time to recover, so some squad rotation is natural. Aleksandar Kolarov has the right characteristics to take on Lecce, so he will play.

“At this moment in time, it’s important to focus on what we did right rather than what went wrong. That goes for everyone, including Pellegrini. Lorenzo needs to realise what he didn’t do well and why. I did explain to him what wasn’t working. First, he needs to understand this, then I can play him.

“It’s important that he has my faith and proves he is fighting to change things for the better. At this moment, we cannot help him by hiding him away.

“This is the same team that played so well at the start of the season, so they haven’t lost their abilities. We just have to work on what the team can do right now.”

Roma’s defeat to Atalanta means they are now six points adrift of fourth place, with an inferior head-to-head record.

“I think Champions League qualification is possible. I must be the first to believe so that the players can believe too. I have to say, it would not be a failure if we didn’t get into the Champions League. As everyone said at the beginning, this is Year Zero, we changed everything.

“I remember when Jurgen Klopp arrived at Liverpool, they finished eighth in their first season together. Look at Lazio, how many years has Simone Inzaghi been working at that club, or Gian Piero Gasperini at Atalanta? We’ve just started here.

“Plus football is a team sport, it is not like MotoGP where if Valentino Rossi goes over, it’s only him. If two or three out of 11 have an issue, it can affect all the others. Everyone needs to build confidence.”

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