Pressure builds on Ranieri after Roma slump to hat-trick of defeats
Roma are in desperate need of a win against Genoa on Sunday to help calm nerves after three major losses in three matches.
First Claudio Ranieri's side lost 5-3 to a rampant Internazionale at San Siro, then followed up with a 2-0 defeat to Napoli at home. The Champions League provided no respite as Shakhtar Donetsk returned to Ukraine with a 3-2 win from Wednesday's first leg in the round of 16.
Roma are going through major changes off the pitch, with United States businessman Thomas di Benedetto in the process of buying the club, but fans are already calling for Ranieri to go and have protested outside the team's training base in the south of the city.
"We all heard the fans, but only we can change such things," full-back John Arne Riise said. "I hope that the fans can trust us and know that we always do our best and run our hearts out."
Roma have not been helped by poor defending that has resulted in 10 goals going past goalkeepers Julio Sergio and Doni in three games, but the problems run deeper than the back four.
There has been resentment that midfielder Claudio Pizarro has been frozen out of the team, while Ranieri has struggled to juggle the five strikers at his disposal – Francesco Totti, Marco Borriello, Jeremy Menez, Adriano and Mirko Vucinic. Adriano has spent most of the time since joining in the summer injured, while Borriello was seen remonstrating with Ranieri on the bench during the defeat to Shakhtar.
"It has turned around completely," midfielder Daniele de Rossi said. "Twenty days ago we were in a good position in the league and looking forward to the Champions League. Right now it is difficult, but we must be positive and that is what we've been saying in the changing room. Roma is still a team full of talent and potential, we just need more time to get the results we want."
League leaders Milan are another Italian team searching for a positive result to lift morale, after they were overran by Tottenham in the 1-0 defeat in the Champions League in midweek.
"Now we have to push on in the championship," full-back Ignazio Abate said. "We need to recharge our energy levels before the important matches ahead of us."
Transfer window signings Antonio Cassano, Mark van Bommel and Urby Emanuelson will all be back to strengthen the team against Chievo Verona. The Dutch pair's return will be particularly welcomed after a game in which Milan's midfield had a night to forget against Spurs.
Stand-in captain Gennaro Gattuso picked up a second booking that will rule him out of the second leg, then head-butted Spurs' assistant coach Joe Jordan. Mathieu Flamini was widely condemned for a wild lunge on Vedran Corluka and Thiago Silva – normally a defender – struggled in the midfield holding role.
"I know I went in hard on Corluka, but I won the ball," Flamini said. "After the match I went into the changing room to ask how he was. I hope it is nothing serious."
Reigning champions Internazionale had a mixed week. They followed up a 1-0 loss to Juventus with a dogged 2-1 win away to Fiorentina and now hosts Cagliari ahead of its Champions League last 16 game with Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
The signings the club made in the transfer window are beginning to show their worth. Giampaolo Pazzini has already hit four goals, Andrea Ranocchia is beginning to form a partnership with Lucio in central defence, while Japanese full-back Yuto Nagatomo made his debut against Fiorentina. "I'm delighted to have got my first start," Nagatomo said. "I just wanted to do my best in defence and attack."
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