After opening a 9-of-9 season that raised the bar of expectations from Rome, Massimo Murati, who was president of Inter when Jose Mourinho led the club to a historic treble in 2010, was asked about the Portuguese coach's goals this season and replied: "He will not talk about a championship "It's complicated, but not impossible. He believes in it and wants everyone to believe in it. He's not one to compete for 3-4 places."
About three months have passed since then, and it is clear to everyone that Mourinho will buy fourth place at the end of the league with both hands. The perfect opening was an illusion that shattered in a short time, with six league losses and a stain in the form of the hardest defeat of his career (6: 1 against Norwegian Bodo Glimt in the Conference League) followed by a wave of criticism of the coach's sticky attitude from Gallurussi fans and the Italian media.
Roma lost the derby, were also defeated by Juventus and AC Milan and finished 0-0 with Napoli.
Her results so far (ranked fifth, six points away from fourth place) are not that different from the team that finished in seventh place last season, and she probably does not look like "Mourinho's team".
Perhaps in his first meeting with Inter, which he marched to two championships and the last victory of an Italian team in the Champions League, the "special" will get the moment that will turn for him the bowl in the critical season of his career.
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A lot has changed since then.
Jose Mourinho after Inter's treble in 2010 (Photo: GettyImages, Shaun Botterill)
Mourinho's choice of Rome was surprising. In Spain there were reports that Florentino Perez really wanted to return him to Madrid, when the coach made it clear that he was the one who rejected the offer because he preferred to return to Italy - where he left no precipitation. In Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham, the Portuguese coach has accumulated quite a few haters. Of course, he also had them during his time at Inter, but most of them were rivals. At the club he was admired, the crowd fell in love and the media defined him as a magician devouring titles after the first treble in the history of Italian football.
But Rome of the summer of 2021 is really not Inter who got in 2008. So he inherited a champion who took advantage of the vacuum and ruled with a high hand in Serie A, while this time he was required to build a project at a club that had not lifted any title for more than 13 years and in the previous two seasons was not part of the top four. And what to do, even Mourinho of 2021 who stars mainly on Instagram is no longer the hungry and eager Mourinho of 2008.
If then he was careful to declare that he was willing to absorb all the fire in place of his players, this time he was the one who threw his sub-players into the cauldron after the defeat in Norway when he said: "If I could play every game with those 11, I would do it. We have both teams. " In the home game against Bodo Glimt, by the way, he had already come up with the strong line-up and still scratched barely 2: 2, on an evening when the first boos were also heard at the Olimpico.
Paolo Di Canio, a former player who now serves as a commentator on Sky and attacked Roma at the time of Mourinho's appointment ("You took the worst of the worst"), continued the trend: One draw. If Mourinho had said in a club like Chelsea or Tottenham, a tenth of what he said here, he would have been sacked a day later. But here it only makes more people be in favor of him, thanks to his charisma. "He wanted experienced players. He was the one who threw out De Brauna, Lukaku and Salah from Chelsea because they were too young."
The game that led to the first contempt of the season at Olimpico.
Roma players face Bodo Glimt (Photo: Reuters)
Mourinho often complains about the referees - both in the Conference League and in the league. In Italy he is wary of expulsions, and it should be noted that in quite a few cases his complaints have been justified, but for many these allegations are made solely to divert the discussion from the professional side. This was the case, for example, after the loss to Bologna on Wednesday, when the coach said that instead of Niccolò Zanyolo he would leave the Italian league, in light of the disrespect on the part of the referees. "Mourinho is a communication wizard," commented Walter Sabatini, the former sporting director of Rome. "Instead of talking about the loss, everyone is concentrating on saying about Zanyolu. He invents things that can only happen to a coach of his size. He has a bad team."
Except for the media aspect, Mourinho's handprint is still not felt in Rome. The team has provided some beautiful football moves this season, there have been youngsters who have been given opportunities and things seemed to be starting to connect, but after each step forward came at least one step back. After the win over Torino on Sunday, despite two kicks per frame and only 31 per cent ball possession, Mourinho boasted: "How much I love to win 0-1". Three days passed, Roma lost the same result to Bologna and the coach talked about his team holding the ball more. Sinisha Mikhailovich, who actually received a lot of compliments from his opponent, heard about it and smiled: "He can take the ball, we will take the three points."
The disappointing results were of course accompanied by harsh criticism.
Pasquale Bruno, the former brake of Juventus and Turin, did not spare his tribe: "Mourinho in Rome only because no one else wanted him. He would not have come to such a place two or three years ago. In England he got a chance in almost every big club, and in other luxury clubs in Europe. "He has no demand. So he came here, landed some foreign players and destroyed Rome."
Gigi Mayfredi, the former Juventus coach, added: "Professionally, Mourinho falls short of almost all Italian coaches. He's just good in terms of communication. He was lucky in Porto and since then he has known how to promote himself. I would never take him as a coach, either. If they had paid me. "
Its impact is not yet felt.
Jose Mourinho (Photo: Reuters)
In Rome, at least for now, Mourinho is receiving widespread support. Despite the contempt against Bodo Glimt, the crowd mostly believes the 58-year-old Portuguese and also the symbols of the past behind him. "If anyone thinks Mourinho is the problem of Rome, then he does not understand anything," said the jealous idol Francesco Totti. "Mourinho has won more titles than all the Serie A coaches combined. The fans and the club should trust him, he is a great coach and a great motivator." Daniela de Rossi also joined: "Mourinho is one of the 5-6 greatest coaches ever. If Roma do not give him up suddenly, she will win at the end of the season. He has the character and the personality."
The club mentioned the Fabio Capello era, which also failed to produce immediate impact and finished only sixth in 1999/00, while city rivals Lazio celebrated a championship, and the following summer added Gabriel Batistuta, Walter Samuel and Emerson, en route to the third (and last) Scudetto in history Rome. "I understand that there is a certain frustration, because Rome has not won the title for many years and there is a strong desire to return to the top," said former striker Marco Delvacio. "Someone like Mourinho comes in and immediately thinks this is happening. But he's not a magician. He needs time and players."
Will he get that time? Journalist John Carlin is convinced not to. In a venomous column in La Vanguardia, entitled "The Portuguese Mussolini", he wrote: "The day Mourinho leaves Rome, the only sigh of relief that will be greater than that of the fans is that of the team players. Mourinho had his moments, we must admit. He Won many titles,But he plays fascist football and his brutality no longer works. His time has passed. "
Mourinho, who was crowned as the outstanding coach of the 21st century, has not led a team to the championship since 2015 and has not returned to Champions League final status since that win with Inter in 2010.
His receipts have already faded.
If the term in Rome looks like the one at Tottenham, it could very well be the final chord of the "special" in the top leagues, towards moving on to a national team career.
Portugal is already waiting.