Claudio Ranieri celebrated the 2-1 victory over Empoli, but defended Alessandro Florenzi and warned “the leitmotif is to help Roma concede fewer goals.”
This was officially his ‘debut’ on the Giallorossi bench, although really his return for the first time since February 2011, having come back to act as caretaker manager after Eusebio Di Francesco’s dismissal.
It was an ideal start, with goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Patrik Schick, but Alessandro Florenzi was sent off for a second bookable offence and VAR was used to disallow a late Empoli equaliser for Dimitri Oberlin’s handball.
“I feel positive about the fact it was a difficult game, with so many players missing and others who have barely played this season, missing leaders who really give an identity to the team,” he told Sky Sport Italia.
“I congratulate the team, because they remained solid and practically allowed no Empoli chances. I didn’t understand what happened on the Empoli goal, because we knew they’d attempt a block on the marking. The second was disallowed, as you could see it hit his hand.
“I thank the fans, as they gave us a big hand this evening. I didn’t expect us to play better, because this was a tense team that was anxious and still dealing with recent events. They conceded most of their goals this season by playing out from the back, so I told them to adopt a safety-first approach there.
“I do have some ideas on how to reduce the number of goals we concede, but I won’t tell you what it is, otherwise that’ll give it away.
“Let’s say the leitmotif of my time here is to help Roma concede fewer goals, because it’s just not possible for a team like this to leak that many goals. We have the quality to score sooner or later, so we must focus on not conceding.”
Nicolò Zaniolo went off with a calf injury in the second half, having already struggled with this over the weekend.
“It shouldn’t be anything serious, because he was about to be substituted anyway when he felt the calf muscle harden, but we should’ve stopped it in time.”
Alessandro Florenzi was harshly sent off for two bookable offences, as he tried to pull out of the tackle on Ismael Bennacer.
“He is a lad with character, because I asked him how he felt and he had a knee problem, but wanted to play anyway. On the second yellow, he did everything possible to stop. If you want to give a free kick anyway, fine, but a second booking? It’s too severe. I didn’t understand the El Shaarawy booking (for simulation) either.”
Ranieri said in his Press conference that fans would fall in love with Schick, so did this evening’s winning goal help?
“I arrived three days ago, I just had one training session with them, because most of the big players weren’t available. So let me test out the big players and then I’ll tell you what we can do with them.
“From what I’ve heard, because I still haven’t really worked with the squad, Schick has everything it takes to be a truly fantastic player. He has technique, pace, quality, dribbling and can score goals, so I told him that if he plays with the character he showed when he came off the bench against Porto, then he can be one of my men.
“He did that in some circumstances this evening, but everyone must give more.”