La Repubblica (Matteo Pinci) Not many players have won in both Rome and Turin. Mirko Vucinic is one of them: two Coppe Italia and one Supercoppa with Luciano Spalletti’s Roma, and three scudetti with Antonio Conte’s Juventus. But Vucinic also suffered some major disappointments at Roma, most of all for the scudetto in 2010, which was lost on the pitch against Sampdoria. “After a great first half, unfortunately we conceded twice and lost. There was a spat between me and Perrotta at half time, I don’t remember why, maybe it was about a pass. But we got over it quickly.”
It was a lost opportunity. Saturday’s opportunity was certainly less painful, but it brought back memories of the team’s old issue, an inability to win when it’s absolutely essential to do so. “It’s true, but Empoli have always been tough. In my day, we never beat them. This time Roma had a lot of chances, it was a fluke that they didn’t score.”
But at Juventus, they make fewer mistakes in games like that. Almost never. You’ve been there as well, why do you think that is?
They have a different approach. The fact is that at Juventus, when you draw it’s as though you’ve lost. You get the feeling that drawing isn’t good enough. Winning helps, of course, every victory helps to bring about the next one. It gives you a positive mental attitude, you feel stronger.
In Rome, according to Sabatini, people go to extremes whether you win or lose.
The fans in Rome are like that, you only have to play well for a couple of games and they praise you to the heavens, as soon as you do something bad you begin to hear that the team isn’t good enough. That starts to wear you out after a while.
So it relates to the atmosphere – does the fans’ unhappiness really have that much of an effect?
In Turin, you can go down the street without being bothered by anyone. There are no radio shows, or at least there aren’t as many as there are in Rome. Juventus are better when they play outside of Turin – they have a different attitude [to Roma when they play away].
You spoke about the radio – do players listen to it and talk about it?
Of course they listen. Whether it puts pressure on them or not, they all listen to it. I remember sometimes we’d joke about it between ourselves, like, “I heard this person say such-and-such about you” and “I heard someone else saying the opposite.” We all listened to them, even just before we went out onto the pitch. It’s inevitable.
Can the impatience to win be damaging?
The fact that [Roma] haven’t won the scudetto for so long doesn’t help. When we realised we were challenging for it, you could start to feel the tension rise even in less important games. It was always there, you could always feel it biting at you. I still have regrets about that Roma-Samp game, we’d played ridiculously well that year.
That doesn’t happen at Juventus though…
Hold on – don’t think that there isn’t pressure at Juventus. On the contrary. When you have to win, there’s always pressure. The real difference between them? I don’t know. It could be that it’s easier [at Juventus] because you always knew what you were aiming for. And then there were also players who had already won a lot before and knew how to give you the right advice.
Who is the major figure in a dressing room like that?
Buffon: he is both able to be a natural leader in the dressing room and a great friend. But there’s someone like that at Roma as well: Totti. Everyone thinks he’s quiet, but in moments of difficulty he’s like Buffon, someone who makes himself heard. He can talk, and how.
Do you get the feeling that this Roma team are affected by their anxiety to win?
I don’t think so, because they have someone like Spalletti there. I guarantee you that he isn’t someone who allows himself to get affected by worrying: I know him well, and he’s changed a lot since I worked with him. He’s changed for the better, in how he runs training sessions, how he watches games, in how he reacts during them. He seems wiser to me. Particularly in how he manages the group, he knows how to make the team work, and that’s a crucial aspect in modern football. Crucial in order to be able to win.