Rudi Garcia “can’t stand negative people,” was angry with Adem Ljajic and promised to chain himself to the gates if Roma sell Miralem Pjanic.
The Coach sat down with the Corriere della Sera newspaper for a lengthy interview, covering the relationship with his father Jose and how this job “eats up your life.”
The Giallorossi were in crisis after losing the Coppa Italia Final to arch rivals Lazio last May, but now find themselves with a record-breaking campaign and still in the Scudetto hunt.
“Thinking positive is in my nature and I can’t stand negative people,” said Garcia. “You just need to look around you to realise how lucky we are.
“I knew the context when I arrived and that we needed to win in order to get out of that spiral. I realised it was a difficult place to work, but I said we should go forward. I like a challenge.
“I met Walter Sabatini and he said he’d probably get a different Coach, but after the meeting I thought he’d changed his mind.
“When I arrived, I asked for faith. Let me prove that I can do well. Now the fans have seen a united team that never gives up. I am proud to see the fans are happier, but I still don’t know this city that well. It’s all simple when a Coach wins, so I am not naive about that.”
Garcia was asked about specific players, as Ljajic has been increasingly pushed on to the sidelines recently.
“He scored five goals and five assists, so I won’t forget. I did get angry with him at Napoli after Jose Callejon’s goal, because it was clear how he was supposed to defend. If I can make him a more powerful and faster player, in my view he can become as good as Eden Hazard.”
If Roma sell Pjanic, will you chain yourself to the gates of Trigoria?
“I promise!” he laughed.
“Roma have scored with 17 different players, but when it comes to the transfer market people only talk about centre-forwards. Mattia Destro is coming off a very serious injury, so we haven’t seen the real Destro yet.
“I showed Mattia some videos of Tevez, Suarez and Higuain. They score like him, but also press the opposition and you can tell they hate defeat. In that sense, Suarez is the fiercest of the lot. Mattia just needs to relax a little more.”
Even if the Giallorossi end the campaign empty-handed, Garcia believes it will be a turning point for this team.
“Winning the Rome Derby allowed us to go forward with more confidence. Beating Juve in the Coppa Italia helped us understand we mustn’t fear anybody.
“If we set a new club record for points in a single season, it will give strength to the group. If we don’t finish top of the table, we’ll be second.”
Garcia was asked how he would deal with certain disciplinary issues. Would he send a player to the stands if he turned up one minute late, just as Luis Enrique did at Roma?
“I have never shot myself in the foot,” was the reply.
If a player slapped a teammate, but nobody knew about it, would he cover it up?
“I’d talk first to one player, then the other and then both together. There are ways to punish a player without damaging the team. If you don’t let him near the ball for a week, then you’ll see how he plays...”
Would he have preferred to work with Francesco Totti when he was 27 rather than 37?
“But now I have a Francesco with even more experience. He might not have the fitness levels of 10 years ago, but he is a genius.”