Roma confirm Spalletti as new coach to replace Garcia

ROME: Luciano Spalletti returned for a second stint as AS Roma coach as the Serie A club confirmed on Thursday that he would replace Rudi Garcia, fired the day before.

Spalletti was handed the task of hauling Roma back into the title race after a slump in form saw them drop to fifth in the table, seven points behind leaders Napoli, and prompted Garcia's downfall after two-and-a-half years in charge.

Roma have also reached the last 16 of the Champions League, despite losing one of their group games 6-1 to Barcelona, and face a daunting two-leg tie against Real Madrid.

Roma claim to be one of the most passionately supported clubs in Italy, although they have won Serie A only three times, with the last title coming in the 2000-2001 season.

The 56-year-old Spalletti won two Russian league titles during in his last coaching job with Zenit St Petersburg, which ended in March 2014, and was in charge of Roma from 2005 to 2009.

His Roma side won successive Coppa Italia titles in 2007 and 2008 and set a new Serie A record in February 2006 when they recorded 11 consecutive wins. But Spalletti also oversaw a 7-1 defeat against Manchester United during the Champions League in 2007.

"I'm excited because I know what the merits of this city, this club and this team are,” he told Roma's website. “It's exciting to work with such worthy people."

Roma's hardcore fans, known as the Ultras, have boycotted matches this season after public authorities ordered their Curva Sud haunt to be divided for security reasons.

The fans have been going to youth matches and turning up at the team hotel before games to show support but refuse to go to Stadio Olimpico.

“The fans get particularly involved in Rome and you do lose something without them," said Spalletti.

"They're part of this club's history and part of our daily work. They have a lot to offer our team.”