José Mourinho tries to reset Roma’s narrative, but the chapter is coming to an end

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“This is us, this is Roma,” Jose Mourinho said before his team’s game in Milan on Sunday. “They have the most incredible fans I have ever seen in my life. And then you have a coach who, when people hear his name, they think he is José Harry Mourinho Potter, not José Félix. The level of demand and expectation skyrockets.”

He was attempting to reset the narrative after a midweek Coppa Italia defeat to Lazio, perhaps his lowest moment since taking over the club in the summer of 2021. Roma’s league form had collapsed, with just one Victory in their previous five games caused them to fall behind in the standings. race for the Champions League places, and now they had lost the shortest route to winning a trophy. None of that mattered as much as having lost another derby.

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Mourinho has lost four of six derbies since arriving in Rome, with just one victory. The meaning was best summed up in the comments of his counterpart. “I couldn’t have cared less about qualifying for the next round of the Coppa Italia,” said Maurizio Sarri, a man who has consistently disparaged that competition. “But you need to win the derby for your people.”

These are games that can change the trajectory of a coach’s stay in the capital. La Gazzetta dello Sport later reported that #mourinhoout was trending on X, formerly known as Twitter, for the first time in three years.

The Portuguese has been overwhelmingly popular with Roma fans, and his presence was the crucial factor in a streak of more than 40 consecutive innings at the Stadio Olimpico. Even now it would be wrong to infer that the majority has turned against him. Calls for him to be fired have been met with an equally furious counter-campaign.

There are many who share Mourinho’s belief that unreasonable expectations are being placed on him. Roma operate within strict financial constraints as they work to meet their financial fair play obligations to UEFA. They have spent less than €10 million on transfers this season and have recovered more than €70 million.

But this is also an incomplete picture. Roma spent more than €100 million net during Mourinho’s first summer at the club. Not all that money was spent wisely. Tammy Abraham was brilliant, racking up 27 goals in her first season at the club, before being derailed by a cruciate knee ligament injury. Eldor Shomurodov, who only started six league games for the giallorossiwas not.

While Roma’s spending on transfer fees has been reduced to a minimum, their wage bill remains the third highest in Serie A. Before Victor Osimhen’s contract renewal at Napoli this month, Romelu Lukaku was the player highest paid in the league. Outgoing Roma CEO Tiago Pinto has done some shrewd deals, and landing Paulo Dybala on a free transfer in 2022 was a coup. But claims of poverty will ring hollow to his rivals.

Sunday’s opponents Milan were aggressive in the summer transfer window, adding the likes of Christian Pulisic, Tijjani Reijnders and Ruben Loftus-Cheek as part of their own €120 million splurge, even if they made up for it by selling Sandro Tonali to Newcastle. However, they spend around 15% less than Roma on player salaries. And Mourinho earns almost twice as much as his coach, Stefano Pioli.

You wouldn’t have known it at San Siro. Mourinho caused the surprise by sending his team on the attack from the first whistle, adapting his 3-5-2 so that Leandro Paredes played as a number 10 behind Lukaku and Stephan El Shaarawy, the latter also an unexpected choice ahead of Andrea Belotti. The two remaining midfielders, Edoardo Bove and Bryan Cristante, moved from one area to another – a marked change from the more rigid lines of recent games.

However, Milan were not worried. They took the lead in the 11th minute, Yacine Adli passing the ball from his right boot to his left as he passed Rasmus Kristensen and finished into the bottom corner.

Genoa 0-0 Torino, Naples 2-1 Salernitana, Verona 2-1 Empoli, Monza 1-5 Internazionale, Lazio 1-0 Lecce, Cagliari 2-1 Bologna, Fiorentina 2-2 Udinese, Milan 3-1 Rome

Roma right-back Zeki Celik made a good save from Mike Maignan before the break. But Olivier Giroud headed Milan’s second early in the second half. The result seemed decided until an unnecessary foul by Davide Calabria gave Paredes the opportunity to score from the penalty spot. But a nervous ending was avoided when Théo Hernández combined with Giroud on the left and hit the ball against the crossbar to seal the 3-1 score. rossoneros gain.

That result extended an impressive personal record for Pioli, who faced Mourinho six times and never lost. No other coach can boast of more than three games without losing against the Portuguese.

It wasn’t long ago that Pioli’s own position seemed to be threatened. The man who led Milan to the Serie A title in 2022 has been criticized for meekly abdicating the crown last season and falling behind Inter and Juventus this campaign. An early exit from the Champions League, even in a formidable group, did not help his cause.

But his team has achieved four wins and a draw in their last five league games. They remain nine points behind Inter, who have set an extraordinary pace, but now have an identical lead to Lazio in fifth place. Even that place could be enough to qualify for the Champions League, depending on how Italian clubs fare in the rest of this season’s European competitions.

Roma, on the other hand, have fallen to ninth place. A long injury list has played a part, although Milan have also had a difficult time in that regard, but even if we accept Mourinho’s claims of having fewer resources than the competition, his team is eight points less than in the same period last season .

Regardless of how his time in the capital ends, Mourinho will leave a lasting legacy. By leading Roma to victory in the inaugural Europa Conference League, he gave them their first silver medal in 14 years and their first continental trophy since the 1961 Fairs Cup. His team also came within a penalty shoot-out of lifting the Europa League last season.

However, Mourinho has so far failed to achieve what mattered most to Roma’s American ownership group: a return to the Champions League and the revenue streams that come with it. In Serie A, he has achieved consecutive sixth places, which is no improvement over his predecessor Paulo Fonseca, who won less than half and finished fifth and then seventh.

There is the feeling that a chapter is ending. Pinto will leave Roma in February and Mourinho’s contract ends in the summer. He made public his desire to renew at the end of last year, but there has been no move by the club to begin negotiations. Some Italian media outlets reported Monday that a change could be made sooner if results continue to rise.

Mourinho watched this latest defeat from the stands at the San Siro, serving a suspension after being sent off against Atalanta earlier this month. According to a journalist’s account, there have now been 29 red cards shown to members of the Roma bench since he arrived. Rather than a magic wand, it is tempting to wonder if Roma could simply benefit from a period of calm.







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