Montella admits top-four hopes are dashed

Roma interim boss Vincenzo Montella concedes his side face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League after a shock loss to Palermo.Montella – who stepped into the role to replace Claudio Ranieri in February – admits the task ahead of his men has become more difficult in the wake of the 2-1 loss at home, which leaves Roma four points adrift of the Champions League places with six games to play.

It was their second successive loss at home, after a 2-0 defeat to Juventus on April 3, and Montella said although his side face a hard task to secure a Champions League berth, they would be fighting tooth and nail.

“The Champions League situation is difficult now, but anything can happen in football,” Montella said.

“It’s a shame, as we had done some good things today and created plenty of interesting scoring opportunities. Even if a little disorganised, we did try to win the game.”

Montella, 36, said the squad had been affected by non-football matters over the past few weeks, specifically their takeover by American businessman Thomas Di Benedetto which was completed on Saturday night.

A consortium led Di Benedetto acquired a 67 percent share of Roma for 70.3 million euros as the club became the first major Italian side to have foreign ownership.

“We allowed ourselves to be influenced by the club affairs, even if players at this level – including their coach – should focus only on the field,” Montella said.

“In any case, the team has already shown in other incidents that it struggles when it is time to make the step up in quality.”