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Old August 7th, 2002, 00:10   #1
Join Date: 08 2002
Posts: 13
Guardiola gives Roma Pep talk

Josep Guardiola has called on his new Roma team-mates to compensate for the absence of captain Francesco Totti by producing the kind of performances that won them the Serie A title in 2001.

Totti is likely to be out of action for six to eight weeks after damaging the collateral ligaments of his left knee during training on Sunday.

But midfielder Guardiola, who signed on a free transfer from Brescia this summer, urged the Giallorossi to rise to the extra challenge of having to face the opening phase of the new season without the influential Italy star.

"Totti is a fantastic player, and it is lucky for us that his injury is not as serious as it first appeared," he told

"We are eager for him to return as soon as possible, but in the meantime the rest of the squad must work hard so that the team are in a good position when he comes back.

"We are ready to accept the added responsibility of having to play without Totti."

Totti's absence could well present the chance that young forward Antonio Cassano has been looking for ever since he moved to the capital from Bari last summer.

The Italy Under-21 international was forced to spend much of last season on the sidelines as the likes of Totti and Vincenzo Montella kept him out of the team, but he could be the perfect man to fulfil Totti's preferred role just behind the strikers.

And Guardiola has no doubt that Cassano has the ability to prove an able deputy for the idol of the Stadio Olimpico.

"I didn't realise that Cassano was this good until I joined Roma," he confessed.

"His task now is to believe fully in his own ability and to show the club just how talented he is.

"People speak of him as the new Roberto Baggio, but I prefer not to as I think that such a comparison could create problems for him.

"For me, it is enough for him to carry on being Cassano."

Guardiola's move to the three-time Italian champions caps a remarkable turnaround for a player whose career appeared to be over when he was suspended for four months in November 2001 after testing positive for the banned substance nandrolone.

But his performances for Brescia after he had completed his period on the sidelines were so impressive that Roma coach Fabio Capello began to show an interest.

And the 31-year-old consequently became one of the Giallorossi's four summer signings when he rejected the offer of a new deal at Brescia to move to the Italian capital.

Guardiola's experience and tactical awareness will allow Roma to alternate between 3-4-1-2 and 3-1-4-2, which will make them a more mobile, and therefore formidable, unit than they were last season.

Defender Traianos Dellas and Luigi Sartor have joined from Perugia and Parma respectively, while Palermo midfielder Davide Bombardini is Capello's other close season capture.

Brazilians Marcos Assuncao and Zago have both been allowed to leave the club as Roma bid for glory at home and in the Champions League in the coming campaign.
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Old August 10th, 2002, 17:41   #2
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Join Date: 06 2000
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We'll he be able to perform without the nandrolone? He happens to be 31 already and at that old age without the nandrolone he might not perform at a top level anymore.
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