Season preview Q&A: Predictions by eight Roma fans in Yorkshire

The 2023-24 season is almost upon us, but what will it have in store for Roma?

Since finishing sixth last season, it has been an interesting summer – to say the least – for Roma, with serious financial restrictions causing incoming transfer activity to only progress slowly.

But Jose Mourinho is still here, ready to set out on a third season in charge, while the club have managed to keep Paulo Dybala too.

But how are fans feeling about the new campaign? Here, Giallorossi Yorkshire has gathered the opinions of a range of Roma fans from across the breadth of Yorkshire on what their predictions are.

1. On a scale of 1-10, how optimistic are you about the new season?

Eddie Bull: 6 – I expect some small growth in terms of gelling as a team and Aouar and Ndicka are good pickups but other teams have reinforced better or underperformed last year so this season will be tough. I’m always hopeful but it’s likely to be more of the sane this season for us.

Emiliano Castroni: I’d give the optimism a strong 7, if we bring in a another striker I’ll go with an 8. Great signings so far and got rid of a lot of the players we weren’t using.

Karl Reid: 6/10. Not enough investment to catch the top four.

Kevin McDougall: 5. There is the foundation of a good team, but a couple of injuries could highlight a thin squad in some areas. Also wary of a strong 5-6 rivals.

Kier Brook: I’m firmly at around the 6 mark. The off season started fast with the signings of Aouar and Ndicka and there was real optimism that we were going to back Mourinho and build on the last 2 miracle seasons in my opinion. However, since then we have allowed others to move on and haven’t strengthened seriously enough to really challenge for the league etc. I fully expect a striker or two to join our ranks before the first game of the season and that should push this up to a strong 7.

Mark Briggs: 6

Tom Morgan: 6/10. I don’t feel the transfer window has been AS bad as some have been saying. Roma have strict guidelines to adhere to and the players brought in have the potential to hit the ground running.

Samuel Bannister: Somewhere between a 5 and a 6, but that could change with a new striker.

2. Where do you think Roma will finish in Serie A – and who will win the league?

Eddie: 5th. Milan will be better, Napoli solid, Inter and Juve haven’t massively improved but can’t be as bad in the league this season. Lazio, Atalanta and Fiorentina are likely our main rivals and we’d have to edge out all those 3 to get 5th. It is slightly depressing saying getting 5th is optimistic but here we are. I’m really hoping I’m pleasantly surprised though! Milan have made some good signings and won’t miss the Tonali of last year so have to up there as favourites. Their mental fragility will be the only thing holding them back.

Emiliano: I’m confident of a top 4 finish this year. I can see Inter going for the title.

Karl: 5th. I’m an optimist. We’re not strong enough to challenge top 4, but I think we’re capable of being the best of the rest. Unfortunately Inter will win the league in my opinion. They are the most settled team I think.

Kevin: Milan have had a strong mercato, but I think Juve could come strong this year (especially with no European completion and Chiesa injury-free). Roma… if they can get in a scoring number 9 then they could manage fourth. I’m not optimistic of the club getting a Tammy replacement in, so it will look more like sixth.

Kier: I’m confident we can get into that top 4. So I’m saying we get it done this season and get 4th spot secured. In terms of who is winning this league I think it will be a battle between the Milan teams and Juventus. The fact Juventus don’t have a European cup to factor in will give them the edge in the league. I’m taking them to get back to the top.

Mark: 5th – Inter.

Tom: This is seldom easy but 4th (hopefully 1st) but I see Inter winning the league this season.

Samuel: I still think top four is out of reach, but it could genuinely be anywhere between fifth and eighth depending on how the rest of the transfer window unfolds. After coming sixth in the last two seasons, I’ll be cautious and say the same. I can’t see an outright favourite for the Scudetto so there could be a surprise winner again like last season, but as things stand I’m thinking Inter.

3. How do you think Roma will do in the cup competitions?

Eddie: Likely bow out of Coppa Italia to a newly promoted Serie A team. A decent run in the Europa League is possible. Likely depend if we can grind through the group stage to the knockouts where Mourinho starts to care/work his sh*thousery magic.

Emiliano: I can see us reaching the latter stages of our cups as Mou likes to get some silverware.

Karl: I think Jose will go for the cups. I think a better showing in the Coppa, and a run deep into the Europa.

Kevin: With some luck in the draw, and on Mourinho’s appetite for cup success, I’d go for semi final or final in the Coppa. A repeat of the Europa League run last year may be unlikely.

Kier: I would love to see us add to our silverware under Jose Mourinho in the cup competitions and really do think we missed a huge opportunity last season in the Coppa Italia. It just seemed to really open up for us yet we failed to get our part of the job done. That was a huge disappointment for me last season. I’m sure Jose will be eyeing up a cup run this season as it’s what this great club needs, more trophies. Replicating what we did in the Europa League last season will be incredibly tough but a domestic cup is achievable. I want that Coppa Italia.

Mark: Strong showing in Coppa and Europa.

Tom: Hopefully a run to the last 4 of the Coppa and winning the UEL, has to be done.

Samuel: As things stand, the back-to-back European finals will go down as Mourinho’s main legacy in Rome. It would be a stretch to reach another, but I’m confident of at least the quarter-finals in the Europa League. As for the Coppa Italia, it just seems to have become a stumbling block, so I’m not getting my hopes up there.

4. Which new signing are you most intrigued to see?

Eddie: Aouar has looked good in preseason and we could do with more creative spark as too much has rested in Dybala (and Pellegrini who is a lot of things but not a Fantasista).

Emiliano: I think Aouar will provide us with some magical moments. Definitely excited to see him wear our shirt.

Karl: I think Evan Ndicka is a really good signing. A good physical presence at the back.

Kevin: I’m really intrigued by Aouar, and if he lives up to the promise of a few years ago. How he fits with Pellegrini and Dybala could be fun – can they all fit into the same 11?

Kier: Aouar for me. He’s played well in pre season and shown glimpses of what he can do. We need that creativity in midfield and not to solely rely on Dybala to single handedly open up teams. We got the transfer done early doors and that has allowed him to already settle in before the season starts. He’s the one that excites me going into this season.

Mark: Aouar, hoping he can find true consistency with us, undoubtedly talented.

Tom: Aouar, comes with bags of expectations and potential, fingers crossed he can deliver.

Samuel: As I’ve written about before, Houssem Aouar is a player I’ve wanted to see at Roma for a while and I’m hoping he can add some of those missing qualities in the transition from midfield to attack. I’m also intrigued for Leandro Paredes’ second spell, I feel like he’s one of those players who gets overrated by some and underrated by others, but in my opinion should be just fine.

5. Which three players do you think will make the most appearances for Roma this season?

Eddie: Cristante – Mou loves the guy and will likely be less injury prone than any likely midfield signings (Renato, Paredes or whoever we sign). Mancini – Another Mou man and fitness wise will play more than Smalling, who in reality is a more important presence in defence. Rui – Not much alternative. Mou doesn’t seem high on Svilar.

Emiliano: Mancini, Cristante, Rui.

Karl: Rui Patricio, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Evan Ndicka.

Kevin: Goalkeeper aside, I’m assuming Mancini and Pellegrini will be mainstays, with Cristante starting most games (potentially some as CB to allow room for CM abundance).

Kier: Cristante, Mancini & Smalling. All these 3 are the foundations of this team. They epitomise what it means to play for the Giallorossi. They are the players that Mourinho trusts and subsequently so do I.

Mark: Smalling, Llorente, Ndicka.

Tom: Patricio, Mancini and Cristante, ever present last season and will be again this season.

Samuel: Bryan Cristante (even if he doesn’t start as many games, Matic moving on might keep up his importance), Lorenzo Pellegrini and Rui Patricio.

6. And who do you think will be Roma’s three top goalscorers?

Eddie: Dybala – Our best finisher. Even if he misses some spells with injury niggles he’s likely to be up there. Mr X (though likely Mr Z) – Whoever we sign as striker will likely get decent minutes in front of goal so should (I’m praying) be on the list. I’d love to say Belotti but I”m not sure we’ll see peak Torino Andrea again. El Shaarawy will pop up with some key goals. Not loads but they will be significant.

Emiliano: Dybala, Belotti, Pellegrini.

Karl: With Tammy being out, I am hopeful Andrea Belotti will step up, Paulo Dybala will chip in and without a new striker confirmed, Lorenzo Pellegrini.

Kevin: With the squad at time of writing: Dybala, Pellegrini, supersub El Shaarawy.

Kier: Belotti, Dybala & El Shaarawy. Dybala will just do what Dybala does when in a Roma shirt. He is our main danger. He can make things happen that other players can only dream about doing in matches. He got 12 in Serie A last season and I expect him to be in and around that figure again this season. El Shaarawy only made 14 starts last season in the league but he showed exactly how good he was both starting and coming off the bench. Only beaten by Dybala for goals per 90 minutes played shows the quality he possesses and why he deserved that new contract in the off season. I expect him to feature more under Mourinho this season and so would like to see him break double figures after getting 7 in the league last season. Belotti will probably come as a surprise to most people. He got 0 goals last season in the league. A striker that appeared 31 times with 11 starts didn’t even net once. Yet I’m willing him into the top goalscorers list this season. Please God grace Belotti the powers back that made him such a force at Torino over the course of nearly a decade. We are currently relying on him heavily after failing to sign a striker and with Abraham’s injury so how he performs could ultimately shape how our season goes. I want double figures at least from Belotti this season.

Mark: Dybala, Belotti, Solbakken/Zapata.

Tom: In no particular order, Il Gallo, Il Faraone and La Joya.

Samuel: It really depends on a new striker – Zapata would be up there if it’s him – but Paulo Dybala will still lead the way. I also think Lorenzo Pellegrini can reach double figures if he starts stronger this season and until a new forward arrives I’ll put Stephan El Shaarawy in third.

7. Which players do you think will improve from last season or exceed expectations?

Eddie: If Solbakken gets a run in the team I could see him being a nice bonus. If we sign some injury prone midfielders and Matic does leave, this could be a make or break season for Bove. He’s shown flashes but could be the next Roman born hero. Either that or he’ll follow the well trodden path from Trigoria to the Mapei Stadium. Ndicka was more of a coup but Aouar could turn out to be a gem of a signing. If he can click and rediscover his early promise it could make up for the disappointing mercato.

Emiliano: Belotti mark my words, big season coming.

Karl: I think (hope) Belotti will improve and add goals to his hard working game.

Kevin: Ndicka could be a great signing; Zalewski’s progress should continue.

Kier: Zalewski had a bit of a down season. I highly rate the wing back and we need to remember that he is only 20 years of age. He should continue to improve under the guidance of Mourinho. Solbakken should receive more opportunities this season too. We waited a long time to see him even make his debut for us and he’s sort of gone under the radar since that day. If he can get more serious game time I can really see him breaking into this team and becoming a dangerous player for ourselves going forward. He just needs to hit the ground running as soon as he can when the opportunity arises.

Mark: Solbakken…if given an opportunity and Belotti.

Tom: Bove, the sky is the limit.

Samuel: Edoardo Bove seems to be the obvious one; he really grew on me last season and I can imagine him developing even more now. As for any others, there were some small glimpses of quality by Ola Solbakken eventually, so I’ll be intrigued to see how he gets on – and I wouldn’t rule out Zeki Celik improving either, even if he didn’t win everyone over last season.

8. Which players do you think will regress from last season or fall below expectations?

Eddie: It will be hard for Dybala to top last year. He’s still our best player by a mile so he is not going to under perform exactly but I’ve got a bad feeling he’s going to have more injury woes this year. I’m not high on Kistensen. ‘Below expectations’ is maybe harsh as I’m not sure anyone has massive expectations, and he was an astute pickup given Leeds situation, I just don’t see what he does to help us.

Emiliano: I don’t have a big amount of faith in Celik I’ll be honest.

Karl: Not sure who will regress although I can’t see El Shaarawy getting as much time and dropping in importance, especially if we manage to bring more in.

Kevin: A little worried Spinazzola’s injury record could catch up with him, which is always a shame.

Kier: I’m always a little bit worried about our guy between the sticks, Rui Patricio. I don’t know what it is about him but I just feel like that position will become up for grabs this season. I don’t want to see any howlers costing us vital points but I expect some performances to be below what’s expected and that may open the door for Svilar to step up.

Mark: Bove (truly hope I’m wrong), and Rui.

Tom: Llorente. He did well the second half of last season. Time will tell if he can get more game time this season. Could maybe take over Matic as the midfield anchor.

Samuel: I felt some of the criticism of Rui Patricio was a bit premature last season – he deserves respect as our best keeper since Alisson still – but it wouldn’t be too surprising if he declined a bit. I’d still expect him to remain number one, though. Outfield, it feels like a make-or-break year for Nicola Zalewski to me – but he could easily do well enough to answer the previous question instead.

9. Do you expect this to be Jose Mourinho’s last season with Roma?

Eddie: Likely. Unless next year brings a shift financially I think he’ll be looking for the next move thinking he’s got the best he can out of what he has here.

Emiliano: No I think he’ll stay 1 more year after.

Karl: The end of a three year cycle I’m afraid. I’m hoping he will stay all year but you never know if he will manufacture his way out.

Kevin: He’ll 100% go at the end of the season, frustrated by a lack of money (club) and patience (himself).

Kier: Yes. He’s been in talks with the Saudi clubs already and we haven’t backed him to really enable him to succeed since he arrived, especially this transfer market. Jose has worked wonders for Roma. He will go down as one of the best managers to ever grace this club when all said and done. We all remember Tirana. He chose Roma and fell in love with Roma. If I could give him a lifetime contract I would. He just gets it. A Romanista through and through. The only way I see us holding onto Jose is if we are in a position to win more silverware come January and we subsequently really back him in that window and he gets the job done yet again. We give him a team to really force us back onto the European stage in the Champions League. If we and Jose can somehow do that then maybe, just maybe we can keep him around.

Mark: Yes.

Tom: I hope not. I think it’ll all depend on how this season goes.

Samuel: If the summer had gone a bit more smoothly, it might have been a different story, but it looks that way. Hopefully he’ll say farewell on a high note, but I think we’ll realise what we had when he’s gone.

10. What is one bold prediction you have for the season?

Eddie: We sign Renato Sanches and he stays fit, plays every single game and becomes the perfect amalgam of De Rossi grit, Pizarro’s distribution and Julio Baptista’s power! Or more likely Bove and Pagano play more minutes than either of the 2 midfielders we end up signing.

Emiliano: Europa League victory.

Karl: Semi finals of both cups, and a derby double!

Kevin: Roma will do the double over Lazio, including one by 3 clear goals. Elsewhere, champions Napoli will challenge only at Europa/Conference positions.

Kier: Roma win the Coppa Italia AND qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top 4. If this happens then it’s been a very successful season in my eyes. Imagine another trophy. This manager and squad deserve this.

Mark: We will win the Coppa.

Tom: Belotti will get 25+ goals. He’s fit, had a good pre season and a greater hunger to score goals. I can’t wait.

Samuel: Despite his poor form last season and being injured until the back end of this season, and a new competitor coming in (hopefully), Tammy Abraham still scores more this season than Andrea Belotti.

11. How will you be watching Roma this season?

Eddie: Sadly on TNT. Being a teacher with young kids, getting the chance to get over to the Stadio for a game are almost non existent. Obviously following news and great features on the Giallorossi Yorkshire website!

Emiliano: In the comfort of my own home, I may try get to Rome to watch a game.

Kevin: TNT sports, or highlights caught on social media.

Kier: As always I will be watching Roma from home on whatever station/stream I can possibly find. I was extremely fortunate to be able to fly over there for the cup game against Genoa last season which was an incredible experience in itself. One which may have to be replicated again this season. DAJE ROMA DAJE 🟡🔴

Tom: I think Serie A is still on TNT (what was BT). I have renewed my membership for when I move to do my masters.

Samuel: As always I’ll be hoping for a draw against a British team in Europe, since going to the Leicester match for the men and the Glasgow City trip for the women the other year were fun, but usually at home – although after failing to last season, a trip over to AS Roma North UK seems overdue. And who knows, maybe this might be the year to finally arrange a Giallorossi Yorkshire meet-up!

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