Paulo Fonseca was furious after Roma’s 2-0 defeat to Napoli, blasting his players for having ‘no courage and completely the wrong mentality’ against big clubs.
This was the second consecutive Giallorossi defeat after a Europa League game, but above all confirmed the long-running inability to beat the big clubs in Italy.
The race for the top four is now going to be incredibly difficult for them, especially as they are the only team still in the Europa League quarter-finals.
“Maybe we don’t have the mentality to challenge against these teams. What I saw in the first half was a side with no courage, lacking in mentality and then it was totally different after the break,” Fonseca told Sky Sport Italia.
“This is not the way we wanted to play. We didn’t do anything in the first half because the team was lacking courage. We are all responsible, because when we are afraid of playing and afraid of losing, it becomes too difficult.
“The fact we saw the second half being completely different, that means it is a psychological issue and we could only really get going once we’d fallen behind.
“If the team was bad all the way through, I’d say we were incapable. If the team was bad in every game, I’d say that was an issue. The fact we had a totally different attitude in the second half means it is the mentality that was at fault.
“Why can’t we start games like this? Why do we always have to wait until we’ve conceded goals? In my view, it’s an issue of attitude. We had no courage in the first half and I didn’t see the team want to play. We were hesitant, passive, not making the passing lines available.
“It all changed in the second half. That means it’s mentality. I am not saying I am not responsible, by the way, this is just the reality. It is difficult to explain why we can’t play like this for 90 minutes.
“The fact we haven’t beaten the big clubs does create more anxiety, but only we can change that with our attitude. We might lose in the end anyway, but what we cannot accept is not having the courage to take the game to them. That is unacceptable.”
Fonseca also discussed a tactical concern, particularly in the first half.
“The main problem tactically in the first half is that we allowed the ball to go down the right corridor with Mario Rui and we didn’t press them there. After that, it wasn’t a game with many scoring opportunities, but we were never really aggressive enough on that corridor.”