There’s no doubt that José Mourinho is one of the most successful managers of all time. He has been a serial winner at almost every club he’s been at, but in recent years there have been some signs that he’s not the man he used to be.
His time at Manchester United ended in disappointing fashion while his tenure with Tottenham Hotspurs was over in the blink of an eye. However, just weeks after leaving Spurs, the Portuguese technician decided to join Roma, who have also endured struggles of their own in recent years.
So let’s explore if Mourinho can bring success to the Italian capital and get a feel for what the Giallorossi could look like under the ‘Special One.’
Everyone gets worried when things don’t go perfectly to plan during pre-season. It’s not something that fans should get too concerned about though. No one has ever watched pre-season games in order to decide where they will place a bet for the rest of the season. It’s like visiting an online casino after playing blackjack at home with your grandmother – it might prepare you somewhat, but no direct comparison can really be made.
What pre-season does for fans is give them some idea of how it is likely to be supporting Roma this season. Mourinho has had a reputation for being a pragmatist for some years now, with his teams built on being defensively solid first and attacking second. This was precisely how his Inter team won Serie A and the Champions League, with Ibra and Eto’o proving to be the world-class forwards that helped them win games. Things have seemed a little bit different in pre-season so far.
Over the last six games, at the time of writing, Roma have scored 16 goals and let in nine, which is unlike any Mourinho team in the past. Goals have been flying in, in both directions. However, it’s safe to say that Mourinho hasn’t finished assembling his team yet. If the rumours are true, and Palhinha and Oliveira come in before the close of the transfer window, there should be a lot more stability in midfield and some much-needed creativity. The addition of Tammy Abraham is also a positive one. His style should suit Serie A perfectly, with his strength, build-up play and excellent finishing all positioning him as the next English talent to successfully make the switch to Italian football.
From what pre-season has shown us so far, Mourinho intends to provide fans with more excitement than he has done in the past. If he can combine this with improved results, he could go down as a savior in Rome.
Does Mourinho still have the fire?
It goes without saying, but Mourinho hates losing. Whether this is in a pre-season friendly or in a game to win the league, being a winner is all that matters to José. He showed this in the friendly loss against Real Betis, during which he protested against the third goal, which appeared to go in off the attacker’s arm. He was subsequently sent off, and Roma went on to lose 5-2. It’s perhaps important to note that this is the only match that the team lost during pre-season, and the game ended with eight players.
However, it’s Mourinho’s reaction, rather than the result, that tells us that he still feels that he has something to offer. He’s won everything in his managerial career, and his time at Spurs is more likely to reignite that fire than cause it to diminish. Many feel that he was unfairly treated at Spurs, especially as he had got them to a final that he was unable to see through. It’s also believed that the Super League debacle had something to do with his firing, even though this has been denied.
If he can bring his experience to Rome, then there is a good chance that he could bring a new era of success to the club.
Regardless of the success he has had during his career, Mourinho has never built a legacy at any of his clubs. He’s often successful during his first two or three years, and then things begin to unravel, which leads to him leaving or being fired. This pattern has become known as the Mourinho cycle.
The biggest question is whether this will apply here at Roma. It’s arguably not the end of the world if it did – if Mourinho is able to deliver two years of substantial success, something that the club hasn’t seen for a while, then it can only be a positive thing. The signs so far show that he certainly has the ability to carry this out, but in the current football landscape, there is certainly no guarantee.
It’s important to also look closely at the main transfers that have been carried out so far under Mourinho.
So far, Roma experienced only one major departure this summer. After six seasons, the club bid farewell to Edin Džeko, who joined Inter.
The 35 year-old claimed that he wanted a new experience after catapulting his way to Roma’s third all-time leading goalscorer. However, moving him on at this point, rather than keeping him as his performances decline, is not a bad decision, especially with the inclusion of Abraham.
The 23-year-old Abraham may not be considered a world-class striker at this point, but he has the potential and attributes to get there. He could certainly outscore Džeko this season, and even if he doesn’t, he could well be a top-class striking addition for years to come.
Another bid addition for the club came in the form of Wolves shot-stopper and Portuguese international Rui Patrício.
Although he had an underwhelming season last time around, this could really be attributed to the suffering of Wolves under the hand of Nuno Espírito Santo, as he attempted to shift from five to four at the back before realizing that he didn’t have the players to make it possible. Patrício is a world-class goalkeeper and could finally bring stability between the posts: a position that has haunted the Giallorossi since the sale of Alisson to LIverpool.