Roma wrapped up qualification for the Europa Conference League play-off round by coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Spezia on the final day of the Serie A season.
It has been a difficult campaign for Roma, who have finished on 62 points, their lowest tally since 2012-13. It looked like Paulo Fonseca’s reign was about to end on an even worse note when they went two goals down, but goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Henrikh Mkhitaryan salvaged a result.
Fonseca departs Roma with a record of 53 wins, 21 draws and 27 defeats from 101 matches in charge.
Here’s how he reacted to the last of those.
On getting into Europe
“In the first half we didn’t have any aggression defensively, the team was so passive and we were in trouble. In the second half we changed our attitude and our aggression, we scored two goals and we reached our minimum target.”
On the game summing up this season’s turbulence
“The team had the same problem we’ve seen before. It’s hard to understand how certain things happen but I think that during the break the players at least realised that, above all, the attitude needed to change – and the aggression and the speed with which they moved the ball needed to change too. This team could have achieved more.”
On losing focus when it matters
“It’s not easy to explain. We came here with the conviction that we needed to win this game. We prepared for it well, so it’s hard to really explain the way we played in the first half of the game. The players reacted after having suffered, just as has happened in so many games. But when you suffer, when you go behind, it’s hard to change the scoreline. For me, above all it is a mental issue – which needs to change.”
On how they prepared for the game
“Before the game, I talked to the players about the importance of this game for Roma, for the players that will stay, but nevertheless the attitude in the first half wasn’t right. We thought that, with safety already assured, Spezia wouldn’t come to win. But it wasn’t like that, in Italy every game is tough and you always need to be very focused.”
On his half-time message
“At half-time we spoke with the players and I explained that this attitude is not fitting of Roma. They understood that and they made the changes they needed to. But it has happened in other games too. It’s hard to explain this mental aspect.”