Di Francesco: Our decision-making let us down
Read everything coach Eusebio Di Francesco had to say in the wake of Roma's 1-1 draw with Sassuolo on Saturday.
The Giallorossi saw Lorenzo Pellegrini's early strike cancelled out late in the second half, in what became a frustrating finish to 2017.
JOURNALIST: Nobody knows Sassuolo better than you, but Roma just don't seem to be able to buy a win at the moment.
DI FRANCESCO: "We have to throw our hands up. We didn't manage the lead well, though we were better in the second half than we were in the first. We could have had the match sewn up. Our decision-making was under par when it came to the final call. We made too many mistakes in the first half, given the technical standard we have. A team that wants to go to the next level can't afford to do that."
Are the players tired or jaded, or is this just one of those spells? We weren't seeing this kind of thing at the start of the season.
"I hope it's just one of those spells. It's normal. We weren't as clinical as you need to be in these situations, but I had seen a positive response from the team during the week in training. We created chances, but we needed to manage the game better when we took the lead. We need to take more advantage of our build-up play, because we're still dominating. We knew the potential dangers of our opponents - Sassuolo caused us trouble on the counter-attack in the first 45 minutes, yet we conceded in the second half when we were well-positioned in defence to deal with a cross. It's a shame because this was an important game that we should have won, even if our decision-making was substandard."
Is it a fitness problem, or something else?
"It could be physical or mental, but the players pushed hard and played well. It's just that we lacked the clarity of thought needed to make that final ball or finish off a cross. We weren't at our vibrant, decisive best."
What's wrong with Edin Dzeko at the moment? Is he finding it hard with this playing system?
"He has amazing potential and it's a shame that he's not scoring. I'm asking myself these questions too. He's creating great chances but sometimes he's not able to turn them into goals. It's a shame because he has tried some ambitious efforts too. He's still an important player for us and I hope he can rediscover his scoring form - it's important to keep playing him in that regard."
Is Dzeko a bit down? Has the carefreeness gone? Is he working less hard for the team than he did last year?
"He's working hard for the team and perhaps that's what's making it harder for him to score goals. I think he had chances. He's a player that has a lot of shots - that's an important stat. Psychologically, not scoring doesn't help - it weighs on you. He needs to find the net."
Is the team still getting to grips with the playing system?
"We were fine with it when we were winning and had got through the Champions League group, but now we're not. The team believes in what it does and is dominating games. Unlike other matches, we lacked clarity when it came to creating chances with the final ball today. If you look at the number of mistakes we made in the first half, there were lots. We created more in the second half but weren't able to take our chances, as often happens, even when we play with more forwards."
Did Sassuolo's direct play stop you from pressing high up the field and nicking the ball off them?
"Often the first things teams have in their minds when they play us is to go long, which can be an advantage for us. Our downfall in the first half was in the way we played it out from the back - we made lots of mistakes and weren't able to overload them with numbers, so they were breaking quickly. We need to make better use of the flanks and ensure our play is of good quality."
Wouldn't it be better to go with a 4-3-1-2 if you're going to pick Patrik Schick?
"Lots of people who think they are coaches ask that kind of question, but you have to practise these things. When this team was doing really well, we used a 4-3-3. Then we had a week when we lost against Juventus and got knocked out of the Coppa Italia against Torino, which really made me angry and took a bit out of us psychologically. Now we need to show that we can find a balance. All systems can work if the players have a desire to score goals and work together, but they need to be practised.