Jose Mourinho saw his 100% start to his Roma tenure come to a crashing halt on Sunday, as the Giallorossi fell to a 3-2 defeat to Hellas Verona in Serie A.
Despite leading through a wonderful Lorenzo Pellegrini backheel, Roma fell apart in a 15-minute spell shortly after the break as they fell behind to two quick-fire goals.
Although they drew level via an own goal, the capital club conceded again and suffered their first loss since Mourinho replaced compatriot Paulo Fonseca this summer.
It ought to have been a routine win for Roma, coming up against a team that had failed to notch a point on the board and had already hit the reset button by dismissing Eusebio Di Francesco after just three games, to be replaced by Igor Tudor.
Yet, as the heavens opened over the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi, the Giallorossi crumbled amidst a flurry of hailstones and Verona attacks to throw away the three points.
Perhaps most frustratingly, it came on a weekend where Inter, AC Milan, and Lazio all dropped points and a victory would have sent Roma clear at the summit of the table.
Having suffered a first setback in the Mourinho era, it remains to be seen how a Roma side that have had their mentality questioned in the past recover, particularly in a week building up to the Derby della Capitale against Lazio on Sunday, following a clash against Udinese on Thursday.
Mourinho has a well-founded reputation as a serial winner and was brought in to toughen up this squad and forge a never-say-die attitude, so defeat in Verona offers the first opportunity for the ‘Special One’ to pick the team back up and get them going again.
A single defeat should not spark any calls for panic and can be used as a reminder against complacency, just as Roma’s winning streak prior to Sunday’s clash must be taken into context, with Fiorentina and Sassuolo the most challenging opponents in that time.
After three years outside of the Champions League, Mourinho has a rebuilding job on his hands to get Roma back into the top four and defeats are part of the process, but there is enough to suggest that Sunday’s loss was just a blip.
However, one positive from the Bentegodi is the fine performance from Pellegrini and the captain has been in inspired form. With six goals in all competitions already, the Italian international is relishing his role as Mourinho’s representative on the pitch and has sparkled, with his incredible backheel goal the latest in a string of standout moments this term.
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