Interviews

Jose Mourinho speaks ahead of Roma’s 23/24 campaign: “I have no regrets.”

Andy Mattioli
I

Roma head coach Jose Mourinho gave his first interview ahead of the upcoming season.

Today’s edition of Corriere dello Sport contained Mourinho’s first interview of the new season.

In the interview, the Portuguese technician discussed various topics ranging from Roma’s defeat in Budapest in the Europa League final, to the team’s transfer business and his expectations entering his third year with the capital club.

“I signed for Roma because when I met the Friedkins I really liked their way of speaking. Their words touched me deeply, I needed this. “We think you are the right person to help us make Roma a bigger club,” they told me. They conveyed their enthusiasm, I liked the prospect of a different project, a three-year contract, progressive growth, something I had never considered before,” Mourinho told the newsapaper.

“For example, the many young players I helped making them debut with the first team, young players who have grown with me in these two years… When you work for a club like Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, if you launch one young player during a season you’ve already done your best.”

“At this stage of my career I needed stability, I felt that something in me had changed. In the past I used to constantly want more, I lived in a state of constant restlessness. I was in one place, doing my job, winning and pushing myself, and I immediately wanted to go and win somewhere else.”

“When I signed with Roma, I knew exactly what I was getting into,” he added. “Obviously for me returning to Italy didn’t mean going into the unknown, this is a country that I know well on a cultural, historical and sporting level.”

“I knew that on a social level Roma were an absolutely fantastic club, but also that from the point of view of football history they had won little, despite many good coaches and many first-tier players, and investments too. When you get to know the history of the club, the players that came through here you wonder why so little has been won. Is it possible that you can’t do something different to help the club, the new ownership? If you ask me now if I regret choosing to come here, my answer is no. Absolutely not.”

“Over these last two years I only experienced moments of frustration. The first year I knew the situation, I perceived the desire of the club to grow and I thought: ok, this is perfect for me. A profile like mine, one that has won a lot, usually doesn’t easily accept a potentially minor project. Only Ancelotti at Everton comes to mind,” he added.

“This experience in Rome is stimulating, rich, rich on several levels. Today I have a relationship with my players that is not easy to establish in a top club.”

“You see, the most important thing for me right now is my happiness. The people I work with at Trigoria laugh, joke around, are optimistic and have a sense of humor. That’s all I need.”

“In recent weeks I have seen coaches go insane over their club’s transfer business. I heard of one who threatened to leave because he is not happy with the transfer market, another one who leaves for the same reason. Then there is a third one who jokes with the fans and says we have our hands tied, which would be me. But there’s no provocation in that, that was not the intention.”

“It’s not all good, but I also enjoy the difficult moments here. I get angry for an hour and immediately afterwards I’m back to being positive about things. I don’t get depressed, I don’t threaten people, I don’t say that they promised me heaven and earth and I don’t see the heavens or the mountains. One thing I can’t change is my nature, I’m not one to talk bullshit. With regard to the imaginary striker, I can tell you that even if Mbappé arrives next week he will still be late,” said Mourinho.

“And by the way, stop spreading lies about Belotti. I wanted him in the first place. He stays and he’ll have a great season,” he added.

“After Tammy’s injury we are in a situation that no coach in the world would like to be in. It is impossible for me to say that I am happy. But to say that I’m in open war with the club, with Pinto, that I’m not happy, is very wrong.”

“Pinto knows we’re late, even the owners know it, in the end those who will suffer because of this are those who against Salernitana will have to enter the field with the best possible team. I’m not pissed off and depressed. Twenty years ago I would have screwed up, twenty years ago I would have been pissed off.”

“Pinto? People may have a different perception, but I’ve always had an excellent relationship with the clubs I’ve worked for. I left by my own decision when I felt it was time. Except for Tottenham, where I was sacked two days before playing in a final, which is crazy.”

“Roma fans have understood what the other fans of my previous teams understood,” he added. “Roma fans understood something very, very simple: when I arrive at a club, I wear the colors and I don’t take them off all day, I just need my pajamas, I try to understand the public, their idiosyncrasies, their weaknesses, their strength, what appeals to them, what is important and I become one of them.”

“I’m about to enter my third year here which is very unusual for me. We were able to reach two European finals so far, and through my journey here, I think people have understood that I am one of them.”

“I came to Roma and had to create players who didn’t exist, the “children” I brought to the first team didn’t exist. They have joined a group to which I have tried to pass on the responsibility of winning. Even if we don’t win a lot and if we lose more often, our aim is to teach everyone how to win.”

“The contradiction between our ambitions and our potential intrigues me. I prefer this contradiction, our goal is to win the next game, I refuse to say we have bigger objectives. If they force me to declare concrete objectives, I reply that they are lower than our ambition, that they are lower than what we want to develop as a mentality.”

“Referees? In Italy I feel attacked, they violated my freedom as a man, my freedom as a football player, my freedom not as a great coach, because in these situations there are no big or small coaches, we are all men. I no longer feel comfortable here. I’m afraid of receiving more suspensions, I’m afraid of having to go back to hearing everything I’ve heard or read in these two years.”

“If you tell me José, let’s talk about Budapest, I’m in. But if you ask me to talk about Italy, about political defeats, about the opinions expressed by the people and also about the offenses received, it disturbs me. I said fear, perhaps fear is too much, annoyance is better. I think that, institutionally, they should have treated me differently, as a man with great international experience, one who has coached in England, Spain.”

“Budapest, from a human point of view, was one of the most beautiful experiences of my career, because I saw everything, beautiful things, I saw an incredible fanbase rally behind the team, I saw people who certainly didn’t eat well for a few weeks just to being present at the stadium, being there with us, I saw a solid group of players with an incredible passion. I saw people chasing an absolutely fantastic dream and experience the sadness of defeat.”

“Bobby Robson often told me that in the moment of sadness you have to think about the joy of the winner. I followed his advice, I wanted to be close to our people and we respected the joy of the Sevilla fans, we greeted our Spanish colleagues, we behaved, on the pitch, with exceptional fairness and humility.”

“I’ll tell you after what happened at full-time, and this is the truth. The game ends, I enter the field with my family and the families of the players, I see so many people crying, I never cry after a defeat… I absorb all those emotions. I come back because I want to be with the players in that moment of absolute sadness, and with the fans I bring the players to the Sevilla fans and players and to receive the medals, we participate in the ceremony, we are impeccable.”

“In those minutes I felt that I had to be the father of the family, so I told the group “I’ll stay with you next year too”. The reaction of the boys was splendid, in that moment it was all over.”

“Once everything is finished, we go back to the locker room, we go down to the parking lot and the referee group arrives. So then, I go up to the two referee assistants, Webb and Rosetti with whom I have a good relationship. I ask Rosetti about Fernando’s hand-ball, and I ask him, was it a penalty? And he doesn’t reply. Then I ask the same question to Webb. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Yes, Jose, that was a penalty for you.”

“Webb did what I wish Anthony Taylor had done. Because if Taylor or someone in his place, after the game, had come to us, in the locker room, and said “I was wrong, we were wrong, I’m sorry”, not only would it have ended there, but he would have had our respect. and our admiration. We all make mistakes, maybe I was wrong during that game too.”

“I keep thinking one thing: Taylor is good, if not very good at what he does, the relationship I had in England is also positive, he seems to me a decent man, I’ve never questioned his honesty. The only thing I say and will always say is that it was a penalty and with that penalty Roma could have won. Before that penalty I didn’t like his direction at all, I didn’t like his technical and disciplinary choices, but I still think he’s a very good referee.”

“If you ask me what was the thing in two years and two months in Rome that made me feel more fragile, I would answer that it wasn’t Mkhitaryan’s departure, having lost a player I like so much and having played for a year and a half with only 4 central defenders when it’s normal to have 6. The saddest thing was not being supported by the club in such a situation. I will serve the suspension for 4 games, I can’t look at UEFA in a negative way, it will be 4 games in which I will feel like a fan. It will be tough for us, it will be tough for me, it will be tough for the team, for my assistants and what we are mainly trying to do is prepare the players for my absence from the sidelines for 6 games.”

“If Budapest was a dream, we are now cultivating another one, Dublin, and we will play the competition to get there.”

“Pinto? Everything that has been written about us is bullshit. We spend every single day together. Ours is a relationship of respect, even formal. We don’t always agree, this is not the case. He has a more direct and constant relationship with the club, because it’s part of his job.”

“When Tammy Abraham got injured I immediately came up with one name to replace him, but I was told we cannot afford him right now. So even when we don’t agree, Pinto wants the same things that I want. Our goal is for the team to achieve the best possible result.”

“Dybala? When August 1st arrived and his release clause could no longer be activated, I slept like a baby. He is of the highest level players I’ve ever come across and for us he is gold, we cannot give him up.”

“When we are forced to do it because he is injured or because he is tired, we are in serious trouble. His quality as a player didn’t surprise me at all. It is the person that struck me, I always say that the good ones are like this: humble, respectful with others. I have witnessed many generations, because I have been training as an assistant since 1992 and even earlier, since 1991 , and this boy is not of this generation. He is fantastic, I tell you that he is fantastic, people know his potential as a player, I can tell that the potential as a man is not inferior.”

“Saudi? It’s true I rejected two offers from Al-Ahli and Al-Hilal. Before going to the meeting, I informed the property clarifying that I had no intention of accepting. At home I said exactly the same thing.”

Match Center

MatchDay 37
19 May 20:45
Roma
Genoa
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