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Fonseca: “I am forcing myself to immediately get us back into the Champions League”

Roma’s new manager didn’t pull any punches in his first press conference with the Giallorossi.

AS Roma v Shakhtar Donetsk - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

With the rumor mill moving so quickly these days, it’s easy to forget just how much has changed about Roma in the past several weeks. The best way to put it is that Paulo Fonseca is only having his first actual press conference today - before this, he had only done one interview with the club TV station and answered scattered questions from journalists who followed him around. Here’s a transcript of some of the juicier parts of his introductory press conference, with my thoughts:

On the start of the new season:

FBL-EUR-C1-SHAKTAR DONETSK-ROMA Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images

“It will not be my Rome, but everyone’s Rome. I am motivated, and together with management and the players, (we will) build an ambitious squad that makes our fans proud.”

Jimmy’s Thoughts: I’m hoping statements like this show that Fonseca isn’t the type of manager to have an over-inflated sense of self (looking at you, Luciano Spalletti). Success comes from working with people, even in a leadership position; just acting like the Master of your Domain only makes people dislike you.

On the signing of Pau Lopez:

SOCCER: MAR 23 European Championships gruop F qualifying - Norway at Spain Photo by Carlos Sanchez Martinez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

“We are working hard to build a strong team and we are studying the issues (that currently hurt the squad). We are thinking over the choices, (our goal is) to bring quality to the team. We’ve made three purchases, when we do another we will let you know. We are carefully considering all of our options to bring the quality profiles to reinforce this team.”

Jimmy’s Thoughts: This is pretty standard “I can’t talk about negotiations that are ongoing” talk, but I prefer this to the way certain past Roma managers would put it all on the line in press conferences. We’ll see if Fonseca maintains this attitude in the future, but it’s a good start for the Portuguese tactician.

On the Gonzalo Higuain rumors:

Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Joosep Martinson - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

“I am in complete harmony with Petrachi and with what he’s (already) said. It is not my intention to talk about players who are not here (yet). If he comes, we’ll talk about it, but I don’t want to talk about non-concrete operations for those who aren’t here at the moment.”

Jimmy’s Thoughts: Again, pretty boilerplate stuff. But for a club where there seems to have been a lot of tension between managers, DSes, and owners in the past, boilerplate stuff is a great place to start.

On Pallotta’s goals for the season:

AS Roma v Parma Calcio - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“He hasn’t set concrete goals (for me), but I am forcing myself to immediately get us back to the Champions League. Another priority is to build a strong and ambitious team. We always want to win, but when it doesn’t happen, the fans must (still) be proud. If this condition is met, we will be closer to the finish line. I don’t make promises, but it’s my belief. I have a two-year contract here with an option for an additional year, but I am convinced that we can win something. It is not a promise, but a conviction.”

Jimmy’s Thoughts: If you think that Pallotta hasn’t set concrete goals for Fonseca, I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Pallotta wants the Champions League; Roma’s pocketbook needs the Champions League. Nevertheless, it’s good that Fonseca talks about making the fans proud no matter the result. It remains to be seen if the fans will be proud of anything barring adding something to Roma’s sparse silverware collection, however.

On Zaniolo:

Italy v Poland: Group A - 2019 UEFA U-21 Championship Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

“Zaniolo has great talent, and we believe in him. But what I’ll say to him is true to anyone who is part of the current squad: they must demonstrate in training that they deserve to wear this shirt. I have huge ambition and I think we can do so many things with this team and this talent. The most important this is the presence of players who want to sacrifice themselves for this shirt, (who want to) put the interests of the team ahead of their own.”

Jimmy’s Thoughts: I’m admittedly higher on Zaniolo’s potential than some of the other writers on CdT, but I think this is the best way to temper expectations while making it clear that Zaniolo can become part of something special at Roma if he pushes himself. The contract negotiation stuff will continue to percolate in the news for a while, but I won’t be surprised to see Nicolo get a fat extension before the start of the new season. As for the Nicolo to Juve rumors? I don’t put much stock in them (at least for this summer).

On the whole, this was an encouraging first press conference. Fonseca didn’t say anything too crazy, and he appears to be totally in sync with Gianluca Petrachi. With Roma’s transfer campaign looking like it’s only just begun, expect a lot more press conferences in the near future. Forza Paulo, e buona fortuna.