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Ranieri: "It was always going to be a tough night"

Read what coach Claudio Ranieri had to say after winning his first game on his return to Roma for a second spell in charge.

Just as during the first time round, Ranieri tasted victory in his first game thanks to a 2-1 triumph - this time against Empoli at the Stadio Olimpico.

Stephan El Shaarawy and Patrik Schick scored the goals for the Giallorossi.

What makes you feel more relaxed about the side and what worries you?

"I'm not relaxed - I'm concentrated and positive because it was an important match today and we were without a lot of players. Putting a team together when we didn't have many players and were without the bigger players - the leaders that give a sense of direction to the side - wasn't easy. I knew it was going to be tough.

"I have to congratulate the team, because they stayed compact even with ten men and never gave the opposition a chance to score. I didn't quite understand the first goal - we knew their last man was going to block it but I don't know whether it was a foul or not. I was sure about their disallowed second because I'd seen the handball. The first match is done now. I want to say a big thank you to the fans because they stayed close to us during a tough time and that's important."

Were you expecting more quality in terms of bringing the ball out?

"No, not at all. It was fine how it was. We were winning and the team is on edge, having coming off the back of a negative situation and having conceded a lot of goals as a result of bringing the ball out. I told the players only to try something when they were sure, otherwise it was about looking for the target man and winning the second ball."

When you have a whole squad available, what tactical changes would you make to avoid conceding goals?

"I have an idea but I can't tell you anything, otherwise I'm doing the opposition's job for them. We'll help each other out but proper organisation and focus are the only ways to ensure we don't concede. We always score sooner or later, but we can't concede so many. There's clearly something that's not quite right so I'll do my best to help the team."

How is Nicolo Zaniolo's calf?

"The muscle just got a bit stiff. I had picked him to avoid taking too much of a risk with [Diego] Perotti, because he's been injured and just played 120 minutes against Porto. I was about to take Nicolo off when he told me that his calf was feeling stiff. It shouldn't be anything serious."

Patrik Schick scored and Justin Kluivert did well tonight. Can they spark a turn in form for Roma? Will you sacrifice a creative midfielder?

"You lot know too much! I arrived three days ago. I've had one training session with the players available and the Primavera lads. Let me settle in, test out some of the big players and figure out what I can do."

Alessandro Florenzi has had a tough week with events in Porto and now being sent off on his birthday. How are you going to pick him up?

"He has a lot of character. I asked him how his fitness was as he had a slight knee issue, but he told me he wanted to play. In terms of the red card he picked up for two yellows, I think that he did everything he could to stop himself. I want to understand the [Stephan] El Shaarawy booking and the second yellow for Florenzi. A foul is OK, but the second yellow struck me as a little harsh."

Has any player surprised you in terms of their quality over the past few days?

"As I've said, I've not had a good look at them in training yet, but what I said about Schick is true: he has it all. Speed, technique, dribbling, goals... he has it all. Before the game I told him: ‘If you show the same character you did when you came on in Porto, you're one of my guys.' I liked some of his play today, though he could have done more - as with the whole team."
Source: As Roma
Monday March 11, 2019
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