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Zeman: "I want to get the fans excited"



Borriello and Perrotta? At this moment in time I’m selecting players who I think I’ll use in games and those are my thoughts now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change going forward. Stekelenburg? I’ll name my team tomorrow, not today. Would him leaving weaken Roma? I think Maarten is one of the best keepers in Europe but this doesn’t mean we can’t play football without him: many teams do it. Goicoechea? I looked at him last season when I was at Pescara and I rate him as a goalkeeper.

I’m calm for the moment but we need to see how I am after tomorrow evening’s game. I feel at home, I’m starting all over again and in my head I’ve got a lot of things I need to do. I want to see if things work out for me, the team and the club as a whole. I left Roma many years ago, now I’m back and I’d like to achieve something again: for the fans who are unlike any others and I hope to get them excited by playing good football. The problems before the start of the season? It’s normal because unsavoury things have gone on and I hope we can improve and get football back to how it should be played.

Are we on a par with the top sides? We need to show this on the pitch. I hope the team is able to have a good season and be a match for every team in the league. Who are our main rivals? You usually pick the teams who did well the previous year so Juventus, Milan, Udinese, Lazio, Inter and all the teams that finished above us last season. Now we all start from scratch. We’re at the beginning and I don’t think all our opponents will be ready to play their best football right from the outset. We’ll see where we are further down the line but we hope to get off to a good start.

Do I think Roma are up there with Juventus as serious title contenders? I believe in the work I'm doing here. I have to believe, I want to believe [we can win the Scudetto]: if you're not motivated to achieve something there's point even trying. I hope Roma are able to prove that you can play good football and obtain results.

I’m not obsessed with winning, I merely think that if we play the best football, that means we’re the best side and we deserve to win. We will respect our opponents if they prove to be better than us. I hope to play well and to get people coming to watch us: I want to entertain the fans.

What sort of game do I expect tomorrow? Catania are a team that had a good season last year and they’ve changed very little this term. We’ve changed a lot, we’ll see if we’re able to show what we’re capable of on the opening day of the season. I’m banking on enthusiasm and I hope the fans will help us to perform as well as possible. It’s hard to say what tomorrow’s game will be like. It’s an “opener”, I expect my team to play as a unit and go for the win. The squad has talent and it’s up to me to get them to show it.

Pre-season? I’m very happy with it. In the first few weeks away from Rome the group worked very hard and showed great determination. Perhaps I’m a little less pleased with this past week because it’s been very hot and that stopped us from doing intensive training as I would have liked.

I'm even more convinced now that Totti is one of the greatest players of all time. He has the skill but how well he performs will also depend on how the team does. He's got back to doing the things he was doing with me 13 years ago, and if Di Francesco scored 11 goals back in the day I think this year he will help Pjanic and Balzaretti to score a lot. Bojan has had a few physical problems and he's not at his best yet but he's an important player for me. Technically he's very good, he's a lively player, and I hope he can help us a lot. As for his position, I think he's better suited to playing wide than as centre forward.

Which of the goalkeepers is going to play? That depends on how they perform on the pitch. At Pescara, for example, I started off with one keeper and then I decided to play the other one. I can say that I have two very capable goalkeepers, both international keepers, and so I have no problems. Goicoechea? As I said, I've seen lots of talk in the papers. All I'll say is that I saw him play last year and I was impressed – that's why I suggested to Pescara that they buy him. But it's the club that deals with transfers: I can suggest Messi, Ronaldo, Iniesta, but you can't sign everyone.

How do I rate the US midfielder? I think his attitude and focus are exceptional and I hope he's able to give the best of himself here.

Lopez and Lamela are on the same level: they haven't really understood a lot about my football yet, but athletically and technically they are exceptional players. Are we short on full-backs? We're confident we can get Dodò up and running and then we'll have four full-backs and that's enough. We've got three at the moment but fortunately Balzaretti and Taddei can both play on either side.

I've been very pleased with these two lads. I hope for their sake that they can take over from Burdisso and Castan in the future. Marquinhos has already experienced playing a high level, and right from the beginning Romagnoli looked like a player who is good enough to be in this group.

What do I think about starting the season with comings and goings still to be decided? I’ve never liked beginning a campaign with the transfer market still ongoing. For a coach it’d be great to have his entire squad already assembled come the summer training camp.

Thoughts on Conte? I don’t know what to say. It began as a sporting trial and now it’s turned into a trial by media. It’s up to the Disciplinary Committee to decide. All I know is, in the past if people said certain things, they were charged. Conte has never said publicly what he did in the dressing room. In Italy if someone reports something he's not deemed credible and if they don’t report something they’re charged with failing to report, so it’s hard to judge.

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