Ahead of Lazio’s Derby della Capitale fixture against AS Roma, The Laziali’s Jerry Mancini spoke to Steven Sciavillo, who writes and podcasts for Chiesa di Totti, to get some insight on the Giallorossi.
One of the most shocking appointments this season has been the hiring of Jose Mourinho. When this was announced, what was your reaction? How do you think he will do at Roma?
I have to say I was shocked. I was at work and one of my listeners tweeted me saying I’d have some big news to discuss on the next episode of Across the Romaverse. I thought he was referring to Fonseca not returning which had been announced a few hours earlier. Then I refreshed my timeline and saw the news. I couldn’t believe it. I think Mourinho will do well at Roma, at least in the short term. He brings the change in mentality that Roma so desperately needs, especially in big matches. I think he will improve Roma’s defense which is badly needed as well. How well he can do also depends on how Tiago Pinto and the Friedkins reinforce the squad though. I think a striker, defensive midfielder, and goalkeeper will be the priorities. He may not last longer than the three years of his contract if he follows his recent track record, but I think the potential is there to do well.
It has been a disappointing season for Roma as they won’t be playing in either the Champions League or Europa League next season. What are your thoughts on Roma’s season and where did it go wrong?
It’s certainly been a disappointing season. The season started off well outside of a few losses to the big sides in the first half of the season. I think it really all went wrong when Roma started going through the injury crisis early in March when Veretout, Mkhitaryan and others were unavailable. Once those players went down and you coupled the injury-depleted roster with a packed schedule due to the progression in the Europa League, it was all downhill in the league. That’s when Roma started dropping points against the smaller sides. Once that started there was no way Roma was staying in the race for the Top 4 considering the atrocious results against their direct competition for a European place. Roma just wasn’t deep enough when all those factors came into play.
The arrival of Jose Mourinho meant the departure of Paulo Fonseca. How would you rate his time at Roma and what are your thoughts on him leaving?
I was a big supporter of Fonseca staying on, even as recently as a few weeks ago despite the likelihood Roma would miss out on CL again because I thought continuity was important for the side. However, that 6-2 defeat to Manchester United was kind of the end for me. After being up 2-1 at half-time at Old Trafford it was inexcusable to lose by four goals. I would rate his time at Roma as disappointing overall. Nevertheless, I’d rate the deep run into the EL as a positive. But the biggest positive would be the development of players like Gonzalo Villar, Rick Karsdorp, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and others.
When Dan and Ryan Friedkin arrived, it meant big changes for the future of the club. What do you expect the future will be like under new ownership and what will Roma need to do in order to become successful once again?
I expect the Friedkins to bring more stability to the club first and foremost. They operate in a strong but silent way from what we’ve seen so far. I think they’ll lead by example in trying to change the culture of the club. Nobody saw the hires of Pinto or Mourinho coming. I like the way they operate close to the vest and don’t show their cards. I expect them to attempt to build financial stability first and foremost so that the club will no longer be at the mercy of FFP and be forced to sell players every season. I also think they will continue to get a new stadium built and continue Pallotta’s work in building the brand.
Who should Lazio be most worried about on the Giallorossi? On the flip side, where could Lazio take advantage of Roma?
I think Lazio should be most worried about coming out a bit flat with its table position already secure in the Europa League places and running into a Roma side desperate for a win against a big side. I think a lot of players are still looking to catch the eye of Mourinho and could be very motivated. In that sense, I’ll highlight someone like Pellegrini or Mayoral wanting to impress in attack. Derbies are always a crapshoot, so despite Roma’s struggles against big sides, crazier things have happened. On the flip side, Lazio could do the same thing they did in the reverse fixture and take advantage of Roma’s individual mistakes. I could see Ciro Immobile pouncing on a loose pass and making Roma pay.
How do you see Saturday’s game playing out? What’s your predicted score?
I’m hoping that it’ll be a fun, action-packed match and we see some goals no matter who wins. I’ll be optimistic and say Fonseca gets his one win against a big side 3-2.