Roma on the up but improvement still needed for derby
MILAN (AP) — James Pallotta’s mood might have improved in recent days but the Roma president could again be feeling deflated after Saturday’s capital derby.
Roma and Lazio are going into the match in different spirits. The latter has won five successive matches in all competitions, while the former’s 4-0 rout of Frosinone on Wednesday was its first victory since an opening-day triumph against Torino.
The win over Frosinone came after a surprise 2-0 defeat at Bologna, which hadn’t scored a goal in its previous four matches.
“I am disgusted”, was Pallotta’s curt response after that match, but the Giallorossi responded with a sparkling show on Wednesday using a revamped 4-2-3-1 formation.
Frosinone’s players already look like being this season’s whipping boys and Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco knows his side faces a much sterner test against Lazio.
“This is a starting point for us, we’ve done nothing,” Di Francesco said. “It was important for us to get three points, see some of the play that we’ve been missing, score goals and get confidence back into many of the players. This will allow us to approach the derby in the best way possible.”
Di Francesco did all that was asked of him, and more, in his first season at Roma as his side finished third in Serie A and reached the semifinals of the Champions League.
But the rot set in after another summer of sales saw Di Francesco lose the backbone of his team with Alisson, Radja Nainggolan and Kevin Strootman leaving.
Di Francesco has come under fire and another poor result in the derby could increase the pressure, although club captain Daniele De Rossi has defended his coach.
“I don’t think it’s the time to put all the blame on the coach”, De Rossi said.
Di Francesco acknowledged after the Bologna defeat he was struggling to find answers and said he was looking for “real men” in his team.
He got a response on Wednesday.
“We have a squad of good lads and I need to get more from them,” Di Francesco said. “We need to show our quality game after game.”
Di Francesco was asked about Pallotta’s comments.
“The president is free to say whatever he wants — he represents the club’s ownership,” the coach said. “We hope the next comments he makes are happy ones.”