MILAN (Reuters) - AS Roma coach Luciano Spalletti is fed up with discussing 40-year-old Francesco Totti, saying he would not have taken the job in the first place if he had known it was going to be such a thorny subject. Totti is in his 25th season at his only professional club, who have announced that he would retire when is contract ended in June.
However, the attacking midfielder has been used sparingly by Spalletti this season with his 15 Serie A appearances including just one start and two halftime introductions from the bench. In most other games, he has been brought on less than 20 minutes from the end.
“If I could go back in time, I would never have come to coach Roma,” said Spalletti when asked why he did not bring on Totti during Sunday’s 4-1 league win at AC Milan.
“When I bring him on for the last five minutes you say I‘m making a fool of him and I lack respect. Let’s take the time to agree on what I should do,” he said in post-match television interviews.
”When I took over, I said that it’s not for me to manage Totti’s legacy -- I must manage Totti the footballer.
”Last season, he did well to make the most of his opportunities and he finished the campaign excellently but I don’t know what to do now.
”The club are there watching and we need to keep our chances of finishing second alive. I‘m sorry, I’ll be more careful next time.
“Next time, we’ll form a co-operative. We’ll have a collective vote and the ones who get the most votes will play.”
Roma need to finish second to qualify directly for next season’s Champions League group stage and Spalletti said he was not comfortable when the score was only 2-0 midway through the second half. “The game was still open and they were coming at us with their forward line. If I‘m the only one who saw it that way, maybe you guys are right but I’ve been criticised when he’s played five minutes,” he added.
“I’ve seen games in which we’ve conceded goals in the space of a few minutes. The team was a bit weary. I don’t know what to say, I‘m sorry.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by John O'Brien