Luis Enrique prepares for his Serie A debut on the Roma bench and reiterates “Francesco Totti is special, but I make the decisions. Understand?”
Pre-season has been chaotic at the Stadio Olimpico with fans and media protesting that Totti was dropped in their doomed Europa League play-offs. Director of sport Walter Sabatini even declared “the situation is killing Roma” with a row between the captain and director Franco Baldini.
“I am satisfied with the way the team worked in pre-season,” assured Luis Enrique. “We made many steps forward, strengthened the squad by completing it with the players we had planned for. I hope the side can be very competitive, but I can't guarantee it.”
When asked if Totti would start on Sunday afternoon against Cagliari, the Spaniard stood his ground.
“Francesco cannot be considered a ‘normal' player, because he scored 207 goals for Roma and is special in everything he does. But I make the decisions. Totti is a player who made Roma history, but I retain the right to substitute him. I could get it wrong or not, but that is my responsibility. Understand?
“I realise there was a radical change and that can always create odd situations. I respect everyone at the club and am happy with all of their work. I cannot control what happens outside of the Trigoria training ground. It worries me and I concentrate only on what I can deal with, which is preparing to face Cagliari and their counter-attacks.”
The former Barcelona B Coach will have his Serie A debut and hopes for a better result than the draw with Slovan Bratislava that marked their Europa League exit.
“Obviously I am aiming for a different result. I want to show entertaining football, as that is the job of a Coach. It won't be easy with Cagliari, but I am optimistic and have seen a lot of improvement.
“I expect the fans to support us. We have among the most numerous, loyal and fiery fans in Italy.”