Rome (AFP) – AS Roma said Tuesday it had parted ways with Luciano Spalletti, who expressed mixed feelings on his departure just two days after guiding the team to Champions League football next season.
Spalletti joined Roma for a second time as coach in January 2016 after a first stint between 2005-2009 during which time the club won two Coppa Italia and one Supercoppa.
While his second spell was a relative success Spalletti had to endure the brooding presence of the fading 40-year-old superstar Francesco Totti and his massed ranks of fans.
And in an emotionally frank press conference Spalletti was at pains to insist that the team could have done better but for the distraction of the brouhaha surrounding Totti’s retirement.
“Much of the time it was difficult to get everyone to pull together – we could have done better collectively,” said Spalletti, whose team bagged a club record of 87 points in finishing second in Serie A, behind Juventus.
“But I leave behind me a strong Roma, that did almost everything well,” he added in reference perhaps to the Italian Cup semi-final defeat by cross-city rivals Lazio and a Europa League round of 16, 5-4 aggregate loss to Lyon.
Spalletti went on to claim the Totti issue, and how much playing time the 40-year-old hero of the club was allowed was blown entirely out of proportion.
“I didn’t make him leave, I allowed him to play a year longer,” said the coach whistled by large sections of the Roma public at their last home game.
“Run a poll on it and see what people think,” he said.
“Focusing everything on one element belittled the others and if I sometimes defended others, well it wasn’t an attack on him.”
Roma president Jim Pallotta said: “We would like to place on record our sincere thanks to Luciano Spalletti for all of his hard work and the significant contribution he has made to the club since his return.
“Under his stewardship this season, the team has won more Serie A points and scored more goals than any side in Roma’s history. We wish Luciano all the best for the future.
“This club is on a constant path of growth and that will continue with the appointment of a new coach who shares our values and philosophy and who will continue to help us take AS Roma forward.”
Italian media reports that Spalletti could be named coach of Inter Milan, while Eusebio Di Francesco, former Roma player and current Sassuolo coach, is the name doing the rounds as the likely incomer in the Italian capital.
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