Roma legend Tancredi explains why Lopez, Fonseca and Smalling impress him

Legendary Roma goalkeeper Franco Tancredi has given Paulo Fonseca his full backing, while explaining what makes current number one Pau Lopez impressive.

Tancredi was Roma’s keeper for their second Scudetto, in 1983, and in the European Cup final the year later – although few keepers since him have stood out for the right reasons.

Now, the 64-year-old – who served as England’s goalkeeper coach for four years under former Roma boss Fabio Capello – has revealed his optimistic outlook for the season in an interview with Tele Radio Stereo.

“I trust the coach a lot, it seems to me that he knows his stuff and is determined,” explained Tancredi. “He must improve with the language because otherwise it is difficult to transmit things to the group. He seems intelligent and I like how he sets Roma up on the pitch.

“Roma’s problem could have been the new coach, but as I said, he has convinced me and I see him going down well with the group. Now with the last signings of the transfer window, Roma will change their record and it will benefit them a lot. In midfield, [Bryan] Cristante and [Lorenzo] Pellegrini need time because they are adapting, not being natural defensive midfielders.”

The position that Tancredi is best-equipped to comment on, of course, is the goalkeeper role – and he has been impressed with summer signing Lopez.

“He seems adapted to Fonseca’s game, I see him as very reactive and alert. He has two very good qualities, especially for how the team plays: Tactically, he reads deep passes well, and has excellent exit times in one-on-ones. And with his feet, he is very precise and courageous.

“He has had a good approach since day one, he is aware of his qualities but also has a great desire to learn. Unfortunately, from a technical point of view, foreign goalkeepers are not of the level of the Italian school. Even with the best ones, you can notice the different way of working.”

Although Tancredi worked in the goalkeeping department during his time with England, one player he will have briefly crossed paths with was Chris Smalling, who was given his senior international debut by Capello. And Tancredi believes that the defender, who joined on loan from Manchester United in the final days of the transfer market, will be beneficial to his new teammates.

“Smalling is the classic English centre-back, hard as a rock and good with the head, in the attacking phase as well, but he also has a good sense of anticipation and is capable of commanding the defence. His only problem is that, being very tall, despite being fast, in the first few metres he is cumbersome.”

After two draws in the opening two games, some fans are already a bit restless, but Tancredi knows that once things click, Roma will be a force to be reckoned with again – especially improving in defence.

“We have always historically been tight in the first rounds of the championship. Therefore, I believe there is a need, especially for those who have changed coach, for that physiological time to register the defensive department. I am convinced that, from the next game, things will change considerably.”

And in attack, Tancredi knows Roma are well represented, with Edin Dzeko named as the one striker who could have caused him problems if they had faced each other as players.

“I am crazy for Dzeko. He has a shot that can anticipate the keeper’s intentions and wrong-foot him, and it is something that very few have.”

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