It is well known by now that when you appoint Jose Mourinho as the manager of your football team, there are going to be some extreme highs and some extreme lows.
That’s why fans must take the chance to enjoy a calm and successful week when it comes along, which is exactly what Roma fans should do now.
The season started excellently for the Giallorossi and Mourinho. They won four out of their first five Serie A fixtures with a couple of Europa Conference League wins thrown in as well for good measure. There was some (largely tongue-in-cheek) talk of a title challenge or at least a realistic push for the Champions League spots.
Since then results have been lacking consistency and it has become very hard to place exactly what this Roma team should be expected to achieve in their first campaign under Mourinho.
The talent in the squad is there for all to see, but it doesn’t run very deep. That is exacerbated further if your coach publicly points it out, naming and shaming individuals that he deems not worthy. They’re capable of some very flat performances but can beat anyone on their day.
Mourinho’s most difficult month at Roma
The past month or so has been the toughest of Mourinho’s tenure so far at Roma. They kicked off October with a 2-0 win over Empoli but that was followed up with a defeat away at a struggling Juventus side.
Then it got really bad with the 6-1 demolition of the Giallorossi by Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League. The Norwegian side have clear quality and were never going to be pushovers, but Roma should never be losing that fixture by that scoreline.
After the game, Mourinho made some scathing comments about the squad at his disposal.
“I decided to play with this line-up, so the responsibility is mine,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “I did it with good intentions, to give an opportunity to those who work hard and to rotate the squad on a synthetic pitch in cold weather.
“I never disguised the fact we were a squad with real limitations. We have 13 players who represent one team, the others are on a different level.
“We lost against a team that showed more quality on the night. It’s that simple.”
Managers using the press to strongarm their club into buying reinforcements in January is common, but existing players are not often hung out to dry as explicitly as they were that night in northern Norway.
A respectable 0-0 draw with Napoli followed that game with the main aim being ‘don’t get battered twice in a week’. A useful 2-1 win over Cagliari helped keep the league table healthy but then there was a home defeat to AC Milan to show the gap between those fighting for titles and those who simply can’t.
November started in a negative manner with a 2-2 draw at the Stadio Olimpico in the reverse fixture against Bodo/Glimt and then a disappointing 3-2 away defeat at Venezia in a game where the team performed well in the large part but somehow contrived to concede three goals.
A calm and successful week to build on
Mourinho and his players will be feeling significantly more content on Monday morning than they were following the Venezia game which made it one win in seven games in all competitions. The Giallorossi appear to have put that spell behind them and now have a run of three victories that they can try to build something from.
The win away at Genoa on matchday 13 almost wasn’t to be if it hadn’t been for the remarkable debut of 18-year-old Felix Afena-Gyan. The match was 0-0 until the 82nd minute when the Ghanaian found the bottom corner with a very smart finish. He made it 2-0 late on with a strike that the world’s best players would have been proud of.
This story gave Roma the feel-good factor that they needed to get what was a very important Europa Conference League win over Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk in midweek. They won 4-0 with Tammy Abraham scoring twice and booked their place in the next round of that tournament in the process.
A tougher test would be posed by Torino at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening but Roma prevailed once again. They had to weather the storm from Ivan Juric’s side a bit in the first half but Abraham showed how vital he is to the team by putting them ahead just after the half-hour mark.
It was a far from vintage performance but after the stuttering month or so that Roma have endured, three wins with three clean sheets are an excellent launchpad to build from and try to break into those Champions League places.
The gap to Atalanta in fourth is just three points and the pair play each other before Christmas comes around. It’s a huge task but depending on how that match and the January transfer window goes, it certainly could be possible.