Fonseca drops Roma hints for Man Utd

Paulo Fonseca insists Roma had the ‘right attitude’ in their 3-2 defeat to Cagliari and drops hints on whether Chris Smalling will start the Europa League semi-final with Manchester United.

The Giallorossi rotated the squad in Sardinia this evening, falling 3-2 despite Carles Perez and Federico Fazio goals.

“I don’t think we had the wrong attitude. We didn’t fight for the result against Torino, but that was not the case here,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We conceded an early goal after an error, we reacted with intensity, got the equaliser and were always trying to create chances by getting closer to their penalty area.

“Unfortunately, Cagliari scored on our mistakes, but if I have to compare this to our performance against Torino, it’s a very different approach.”

Smalling made his first start in over a month and is now considered a real candidate to start against his old club.

“He did very well. It was important to get Chris at least 45 minutes of playing time, he had more than that, and I think it was positive. Now he has the chance to play against Manchester United.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to give some playing time to all those who were coming back from injury, but Chris and Leonardo Spinazzola were the most important ones to get minutes in their legs.”

Fonseca was asked if he will start Bryan Cristante or Smalling at Old Trafford on Thursday.

“We will see. It is possible we will use them both.”

With Roma sliding down the Serie A table, the Europa League becomes the deciding factor in whether Fonseca will keep his job.

“I have always been focused entirely on my work. This semi-final with Manchester United is very important and I must stay entirely focused on a game that is too important for us.

“It’s true that Manchester United are very dangerous on the counter-attack, but we must realise it’ll be really difficult if we go to Manchester and just defend. We need to keep the ball and make it difficult for them. The team must show character and not sit too deep.”

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