Opinion

Jose Mourinho: Assessing the future of the ‘Special One’ at Roma

Andy Mattioli
I

Jose Mourinho’s future as Roma manager will likely be one of the biggest talking points in football over the next couple of months, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Predicting what will happen is as tricky as pinpointing when a jackpot may drop on a slot machine, particularly given the Portuguese tactician’s volatile nature.

However, as regular players of the excellent Starburst slot can testify, the reels sometimes line up in just the right order and a winning return is landed.

Success for Mourinho in this scenario would undoubtedly be extending his three-year stay with a club who appear to be exactly the right fit for him.

Having recently said he would not answer hypothetical questions about his future, the ‘Special One’ was more forthcoming after his team’s 2-0 defeat at Bologna last weekend.

While that result left Roma eighth in Serie A, they are just three points behind the top four. Despite the defeat, Mourinho believes he is still the right man for the job.

“I will tell you something I have not yet said, because I did not want to say it – I want to continue at Roma,” he told DAZN. “I want to continue here. If I continue at Roma, we need to really think about what we can do with the FFP (Financial Fair Play) limitations.

“Perhaps it is better to work with young players and develop for the future rather than with some players who have nothing more to develop. I want to continue and we perhaps ought to think about it in a different way.

“I know the dimensions of this team – when everyone is available, we have sufficient quality to fight it out. We didn’t finish fourth last season because we reached a European final and were too stretched out. Without fundamental players, obviously it is difficult.”

Mourinho went on to admit that there had been no official contract talks with the club, and confirmed it would not be his decision to sperate from fans who have taken him to their hearts.

Speculation about his future quickly mounted, with several Italian media outlets claiming the club would determine his future within the next two months.

Heading down a different path would be a big gamble by Roma, particularly given that Mourinho has built up such a positive rapport with the supporters.

Guiding them to two successive European finals has played a key role in establishing Mourinho’s legacy in Rome, and you would not put it past him to achieve the feat again this season.

However, while progress in UEFA’s club competitions is clearly welcome, Mourinho was brought in to guide Roma back into the top four in Serie A and is yet to get the job done.

Injuries and a lack of squad depth while prioritising results in Europe played a significant role in this, and a similar scenario could unfold this season.

Financial constraints have also hindered Mourinho – a factor which makes reaching two consecutive European finals all the more remarkable.

If the club allows Mourinho to walk next summer there is no guarantee they will end up with anyone better, which may ultimately influence their decision.

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Roberto De Zerbi has been touted as possible successor, but it is debatable whether Roma could tempt him away from the Premier League.

Bologna’s Thiago Motta is a viable alternative, although if he guides them into the Champions League at Roma’s expensive, that move becomes more unlikely.

The key element in the club’s decision-making process should be Mourinho’s willingness to stay with the club, especially given his past history.

His infamous fallouts with previous clubs have been well-documented, but he appears to have developed a new-found maturity now he is past his 60th birthday.

Mourinho is enjoying life in Rome and the fans love him. He has also shown more willingness to give youth a chance, which should help his cause.

If De Zerbi or Motta were tempted to take over at Roma, a strong case could be made for the club to say ‘thank you’ to Mourinho before parting company with him.

However, given the club’s financial situation, having Mourinho in charge gives them a better chance of attracting players who would ordinarily head elsewhere.

Getting into the top four or winning the Europa League to qualify for the Champions League may well be the key that unlocks a longer stay for Mourinho in Rome.

However, with several Saudi Pro League clubs likely to have him in their sights for next season, Roma’s owners can ill-afford to drag their heels if they genuinely want him to stay.

Match Center

MatchDay 37
19 May 20:45
Roma
Genoa
GEN