Sunday April 5 2020
Fonseca: 'I'm in love with Roma'

Paulo Fonseca admits Serie A is “the most difficult league” for coaches, he’s “in love” with Roma and hopes Chris Smalling can make his move permanent.

The tactician spoke to Portuguese newspaper A Bola during the lockdown, having interrupted his debut Italian campaign.

“I think we can resume playing in June, but that is a very utopian vision of the situation,” said Fonseca.

“I always thought Italy was the biggest challenge and the most difficult league for coaches, especially those who are coming from abroad. I was excited when my manager, Marco Abreu, revealed Roma were among the options, so clearly I focused on taking that role.

“I had played against Roma a year earlier in the Champions League with Shakhtar Donetsk, so I had seen the passion that the fans have at the Olimpico. There were better offers on a financial level, but I wanted to challenge myself and I can now say I made the right choice.

“It is the toughest league, because you have teams who man-mark, others who defend deep, or they press high, some change strategy even during a match. I had to adapt quickly, as Italians are almost obsessive about their tactics, but now I feel that I have evolved as a coach.

“This is an enormous club, accustomed to challenging for titles. I always felt great support and understanding from the fans, even during a difficult moment in January. Their passion is extraordinary. I always dreamed of coming to one of the biggest European clubs, like Roma. I am in love with this club and I wouldn’t change this experience with any other.”

Fonseca and Roma are getting the best out of another newcomer to Serie A, Manchester United defender Smalling.

“He did surprise me. He’s a defender who had never left England before and moved to a league that is very demanding on a tactical level, where even a tiny detail can make the difference. Chris settled in so quickly.

“He is an extraordinary guy, very intelligent, and has characteristics I really appreciate in a centre-back. He’s quick, almost unbeatable in one-on-one situations, can read the game so well. If possible, I’d love for him to stay with Roma.”

The biggest problem for Fonseca in his debut Roma campaign has been the slew of injuries.

“I’d never experienced anything like it, seeing this many traumatic injuries. It’s almost inexplicable. We never had a group of players all available at the same time, so there was no stability.”

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