Barcelona comparison returns to haunt Enrique

AS Roma coach Luis Enrique's declaration that he wanted to make his Serie A team play like Barcelona has returned to haunt him after another unhappy defeat for his ambitious club.

Luis Enrique named Barcelona as his model when he took charge in July but, after eighth-placed Roma had three players sent off in a 3-0 defeat at Fiorentina on Sunday, the club said they did not want to hear the Catalans mentioned again.

"I have had enough of the comparisons with Barcelona, it's not the only team in the world which keeps possession of the ball," general manager Franco Baldini told reporters.

"This is the first year of a long-term plan and obviously every defeat seems to make it shorter, but we've got to keep our eyes on the road and keep going forward."

"Are we reconsidering our project? No, absolutely not," added Baldini. "But I admit that the supporters have started to lose some of that extraordinary patience we had seen up until now, there's no point denying it."

Roma, Italian champions in 1942, 1983 and 2001, have managed a modest five wins in 13 Serie A matches to lie eighth in the table with 17 points - only three ahead of 17th-placed Bologna and 12 behind leaders Juventus.

Luis Enrique, a former Barcelona player and Barca B coach, was chosen after the club was taken over by a consortium led by United States businessman Thomas Di Benedetto earlier this year.

The Spaniard was initially given a lukewarm reception by Roma captain Francesco Totti after leaving the talismanic one-club striker on the bench.

That problem was ironed out but Roma fans are now angry at his decision to suspend Italy striker Pablo Osvaldo from Sunday's game following a dressing-room incident in which he lashed out at team-mate Erik Lamela.

Many feel a fine would have been enough for the Argentine-born forward, Roma's leading scorer.

"It's obvious that it's not easy but I feel I have the backing of the club," said Luis Enrique.

"My players have done everything they can in the circumstances, I've no criticisms to make of them. The final result was a disaster for us but we had the attitude that we needed.

"If I felt my team weren't following me, I wouldn't hesitate about leaving, but I don't think that is the case at the moment.

"I feel that they support me but you have to ask them, and without the microphone switched on, because with that in front of them they will say they are with me.

"I feel there is belief in my work and my staff."


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