The Zeman interview
The Roma Coach took time out from his Austrian training camp to speak to La Gazzetta dello Sport about various issues.
POSITIONS: “At the moment I consider Romagnoli, who’s a very talented player, as our third centre-back, but if we come across a defender who can be the first rather than the third, then clearly that’s better for us. Did I find De Rossi convincing playing inside midfield? He plays in that position for Italy both on the left and on the right: he can do it, all right. But my decision will always depend on who we are playing against.” Then he moved on to the attack, with Lamela and Nico Lopez contending a place. “Currently I should have two players who can cover each position. It depends who’s fit and who can contribute more to the team: they both have the same chance of making the first eleven. Is Nico Lopez sturdy enough? You don’t have to be particularly strong to play, look at Giovinco. That isn’t a problem. He’s in my squad and I hope I’ll be able to make use of him and give him a chance to play.”
TOTTI, PJANIC AND DESTRO — Still on the issue of the strikers he talked about Pjanic position on the pitch. “If he’s playing alongside Totti he’ll have to play further infield, because Totti plays from further back than Destro. Pjanic can also play on the right, he’s a clever lad. He can do the business well on that side. The change from Borini to Destro? Destro is more technically-minded than Borini.”
THE SQUAD — Roma have quite a big squad, while the coach prefers smaller squads. “In Pescara there were 24 players in the group, including two young lads of 18 and 19 years of age. I prefer to work with smaller squads. They are easier to manage and you know everyone’s doing what they should be doing. If you keep shuffling the players around and fielding a different eleven, you’re never going to get anywhere. Apart from that we aren’t involved in Europe and don’t have so many matches to worry about. I think the squad is fine just as it is. Tallo? We’ll see, because I have six strikers and I’ll be using three. One will have to be sacrificed. He wasn’t well when he arrived, so we didn’t bring him to the first training camp and he’ll have to make that up.” Then Bradley and Dodò. “I think Bradley is already fit and he’ll start on the 16th, whereas Dodò still has a lot to do.”
EVENTFUL ITALIAN SUPER CUP AND THE SCANDAL — The football season has just begun and already there’s an air of venom and controversy in the wake of the Italian Super Cup tie between Napoli and Juventus: “I didn’t see the match so I can’t really comment. This was nasty, let’s hope it serves as a lesson for the future. We are just at the beginning of the season; it’s clear we have to change attitude.” He also mentioned the match-fixing sentences: “I don’t know, and up to now, I don’t understand it. I haven’t read the evidence and I’m not qualified to comment on what is being said. If we want to stamp these things out we have to show more determination.” Then, referring to Conte’s 10-month suspension, although he didn’t mention any names: “A player who is suspended can continue training, but if the suspension is long-term, I don’t think it’s right.”
TACTICS — The coach went on to talk tactics and the full backs moving forward: “It will always depend on the situation. At Pescara we scored a few goals with the right back crossing for the left back to score: if someone starts off and takes part in an attacking move, it’s logical for him to continue rather than stopping, but it’s important to maintain the balance of the team.”
PREPARATION — According to the coach there’s no danger if Roma don’t start the season without many ‘real’ matches under their belt. “I have always worked like this: during the pre-season I need opposition who allow us to try out what we are building: if I have to play against a team that doesn’t allow us to do that, it makes it a pointless exercise.”