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Spalletti: "Carlo Ancelotti has been a great teacher to me"

Luciano Spalletti graciously sat down to speak to AS about his second coming as Roma boss, Zidane's Madrid and the overly short shelf life of managers.

Luciano Spalletti keeping calm ahead of tomorrow's Madrid game

You revoluntionised Roma during your first stint in charge of the club. What was that experience like?

Managers always have to blend their ideas with the quality of the players they have. When I took over I came up with a solution, a 4-3-2-0 system: that zero was an unknown quantity, one that could pop up anywhere on the pitch which went by the name Francesco Totti.

Do you feel like the savour of Roma?

The club was going through a difficult time and it was decided that a change was needed. I think they made a mistake. I believe that the mentality they have elsewhere is more beneficial for football: the manager shouldn’t have to look over his shoulder because of a few bad results, patience is required…

In that case you don’t agree with the Benítez’s sacking?

Obviously the president has a business to run, but here in Italy managers are changed too often. Managers need to be supported. I always say: “I’d prefer to use the best eleven rather than the eleven best players”.

So you’re more a manager of teams rather than of individuals?

You need to be able to make both of those aspects work together.

Stadio Olimpico before the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Roma and Manchester City
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Stadio Olimpico before the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Roma and Manchester CityGiuseppe BelliniGetty Images

What was the first thing you told the players on your return?

That I was back because of the wonderful feeling managing Roma gave me. I support this club, and that love starts to seep into your blood. 

Are you fearful of what might happen in this tie?

I know Madrid very well, I watched them play a lot when one of my good friends was the coach…


Carlo Ancoletti.

Do you know him well?

He has been a great teacher to me. He was doing great there, as he has always done wherever he’s gone. Ancelotti is the best manager we have in Italy at the moment, and this is the best place on the planet when it comes to producing managers: there are Italian coaches all over the world.

What did you learn from him?

Everything. Whenever I have dinner with him I try to soak up as much of what he says about football as possible. He’s a great coach and a great person.

Is it hard to keep Totti on the bench?

I manage Roma, not just Totti. My primary objective is getting good results that is what I base my decisions on, not on what a player has done in the past.

How is your relationship with the captain?

From my perspective it’s fantastic.

And from Totti’s?

You should ask him that question! (laughs).

What are your thoughts on Zidane as a manager?

He gave a lot to the game as a player; I remember his time at Juventus well. He was a fantastic player, a leader… and when that’s part of your make up it makes becoming a manager that bit easier. He has the respect of everyone and that will help him in his new role.

Is charisma enough to manage a team?

Personality can be enough along with being able to put the players in the right positions so as to get the best out of them. That earns you their respect.

Who is Madrid’s best player?

Well, I’ve heard they have a young guy there making waves who goes by the name Cristiano (laughs).

I thought you might say Modric.

I encountered him during my time in charge of Zenit and he was unplayable. Both the club and I would love to have signed him.

And Kroos?

There all great. But Cristiano is on another level. That level of ability is very rare to come across. I know him well; we played against his Manchester United side six times.