When Roma appointed Jose Mourinho as their new head coach back in May, it came as a surprise to many. Mourinho was joining on the back of a failed 17-month stint with Premier League side Tottenham Hotspurs, however, Roma were quick to jump at the chance of appointing one of the biggest names in football management.
Mourinho went to Spurs in a bid to rebuild his reputation in the Premier League following his failed time as manager of Manchester United. This, of course, came after he had incredible success with Chelsea over two separate periods. His time at Spurs, however, did not go to plan. Brought in to bring silverware back to White Hart Lane, Mourinho was sacked just days before the Carabao Cup Final following a run of terrible results in the Premier League.
The timing of his dismissal was surprising. Whilst his underperforming team were out of touch in the Premier League, one thing Mourinho has always brought to clubs he has managed has been silverware.
At Manchester United, his time was considered a failure, however, given the lack of success they have had since he left, it might be considered that he managed to squeeze a lot out of an underperforming and bloated squad. During his two year tenure, he captured the EFL Cup, Europa League and Community Shield in his opening season. In his second season in charge, he guided the team to a second-place finish and the FA Cup Final where they lost to Chelsea.
His ability to win trophies has been a trait of a highly successful career and whilst there are many that believe his best days as a manager are behind him, Mourinho still brings a lot to any club he manages and Roma are hoping he can bring back winning ways to a club that have not won a league title in 20 years.
The Mourinho effect
On his appointment, Mourinho was certainly saying all the right things. In an interview on their official website, he said, “This is not the Friedkin project, it’s not the Tiago Pinto project, it’s not the Mourinho project, it’s the Roma project. I know the fans, I know the square, and if you think that the project is for me ‘to arrive tomorrow and I win the day after tomorrow,’ it’s not the right path.”
He then continued, “This is a project in which the owners want to leave a legacy. They want to do something very important for the club in a very sustainable way. We want Roma to be successful in the future.”
It’s true that Mourinho inherited a club that was low on confidence. The team finished in a disappointing seventh place under Paulo Fonseca last season, scraping into the newly formed Europa Conference League so at least guaranteeing some European football this season. They were thrashed in the Europa League by Manchester United – a result that led to the announcement that Fonseca would be leaving the club at the end of the season to be replaced by Mourinho.
Roma actually share a number of similar traits as Mourinho’s previous club Tottenham. Both are sleeping giants in European football, both without league wins in 20+ years and both failing to win any major silverware under a number of different managers. Only time will tell if Mourinho can have more success with Roma than at Spurs, but he will certainly need backing in the transfer market in order to turn things around.
The season so far
The season to date has already been a rollercoaster ride and Roma find themselves exactly where they finished last season – in seventh place after 22 matches. This rollercoaster season was never more evidence than their recent match against Juventus. Roma streaked into a 3-1 lead before conceding three goals in seven-minute to lose an epic match 4-3. This promoted a meltdown from Mourinho who said his team had a “weak mentality” for throwing away such a strong position.
Earlier in December, they had recorded a magnificent 4-1 away win against high-flying Atalanta before drawing with lowly Sampdoria and losing to AC Milan and Juventus. There is no consistency to their form halfway through the season and this is something Mourinho must find if he wants to push on and claim a place in the Champions League next season. After 21 games, they find themselves nine points off fourth place with a lot of work to do to make up ground. They are 17 points adrift of league-leaders Inter Milan – another of Mourinho’s former clubs so it is not going to be an overnight project for Mourinho to turn things around at Roma.
He is already trying to put his mark on the team and is working with a number of players he has previously managed including Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, both of whom he managed at Manchester United. They recently signed another Englishman – Ainsley Maitland-Niles, on loan for the rest of the season and he joins fellow countryman Tammy Abraham who Mourinho signed from former club Chelsea in the summer.
Betway currently has Roma at 201.00 to lift the Serie A title this season and not even the most optimistic Roma fan would be putting their money on them lifting the title this season. However, given time and the right investment in his squad, you would not put it past Mourinho to deliver Roma’s first Serie A title in over twenty years in the next couple of seasons.
If Mourinho does manage to bring success at Roma, especially if that success is a Serie A title, you could argue that this would be his biggest success as a manager. Watch this space and expect further ups and downs before the end of the season.