Roma were eliminated from the Coppa Italia at the first hurdle in shocking fashion on Tuesday night.
Hosting Spezia, a team who are currently in their first ever Serie A campaign, Roma went 2-0 down inside 15 minutes. It was the exact opposite of the response that was needed after the derby defeat to Lazio on Friday.
Roma tried to get back in the game and deservedly found an equaliser in the second half, taking the game to extra time.
The following 30 minutes could not have started in worse fashion. Gianluca Mancini was sent off for a second yellow card and goalkeeper Pau Lopez received a straight red for a reckless attempt at playing the ball outside the box.
It left Roma with nine men for the remainder of the match – at which point Paulo Fonseca made a double substitution. The problem was that this decision took the number of subs Roma had used up to six – one more than permitted.
Why the referees did not interfere is unclear, but it was a moment that encapsulated the chaos and confusion around Roma at the time.
Spezia went on to score two goals – a header by former Roma academy product Daniele Verde and a chip from Riccardo Saponara that caught sub keeper Daniel Fuzato, making just his second senior appearance at the age of 23, off his line.
It meant Roma crashed out of the Coppa Italia, once again raising questions of Fonseca’s future.
Here’s how the coach assessed things.
On the manner of goals conceded in the last few games
“We are a team that wants to build from the back. But the goals we have conceded tonight were not from that first phase, but from long balls. As far as the first two goals go, it wasn’t an issue with our style of play.”
On bringing on a sixth sub in extra-time
“If there is an issue, we have time to discuss that internally. If there is.”
On the team’s mentality
“There is a problem with the mentality. Against Atalanta, Napoli and in the derby, when we have conceded goals we haven’t found the strength to bounce back. But tonight the boys, after going 2-0 down, showed that desire to change the game.”
On why he didn’t play Edin Dzeko and Borja Mayoral together
“We created a lot of chances that could have changed the game. I think that in the derby, when I changed things and we put two strikers up top, we didn’t play well. With the system we had tonight we created a lot of chances. I don’t think it was a problem with the formation.”
On whether he feels under pressure
“My future has been up for discussion ever since I got here. I am encouraged by the position we have in the league right now – it’s where we want to be – and I have confidence in my team. But when we don’t win I am always being discussed. I have to stay focused on my job.”