Roma might not have stood out in Serie A this season but for those that have watched them closely there is one thing that’s for sure; Jose Mourinho is not a ‘finished coach’.
That said, he’s only one year in and now he – and the hierarchy above him – will be looking for evolution and progression. So, what does Mourinho need to take Roma forwards?
Maintain the good feeling
One of the constant criticisms angled at Mourinho is his short cycles in the club, which is born out of ‘not being a good man manager’. For a long time, the counterargument to that has been that the right players will respond to Mourinho; the likes of John Terry are perfect examples of those who have had no issues and in fact excelled under his stewardship.
There would appear to be a nucleus of the squad at Roma that are very much bought into Mourinho; Tammy Abraham has thrived, Lorenzo Pellegrini has arguably had the best year of his career and Roger Ibanez has been a rock at the back. You can even look to his ability to rebuild apparently broken relationships with former Man United duo Chris Smalling and Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the handling of Nicolo Zaniolo as huge positives.
Throw in the fact that Mourinho has given youth plenty of opportunities and said all the right things in press conferences and it’s little surprise the Giallorossi fan base are loving him. If he can keep those things alive through the summer, Roma will have an incredible base from which to kick on.
Roma has also qualified to the Europa League next season which will be a good opportunity for young players to try European football. Do not be surprised to see them not very favored in the Europa League odds, according to sportsbook and casino website Bovada.lv, because there will be some major teams in next year’s competition like Arsenal and Manchester United.
Recruitment will be key
As with most modern managerial jobs in football, getting the right bodies in the building will be vitally important for what the club can achieve moving forwards. Mourinho, in particular, has often demanded significant support in the transfer market and this summer is unlikely to be much different. The likely boxes he’ll be looking to tick are experience, quality and improving the depth of his squad.
So, who will Roma sign?
Mourinho and Matic have worked together a few times in the past and continue to have a good relationship. The former Chelsea manager has recently waxed lyrical about Matic and with the 33-year-old midfielder available on a free transfer after leaving Manchester United this link has a real chance of coming to fruition early doors in the summer.
Despite Matic’s advancing years, he would still be a good fit for Roma. For one thing, he puts an almighty check-in that ‘experience’ box. On top of that, his ability on and off the ball would help in transition; the defensive side of that, in particular, has looked vulnerable at times this season.
Ola Solbakken, 23, is a name that will ring painfully in Roma fans’ ears after his showing against them in the Europa Conference League earlier this year with Bodo/Glimt. That said, to many people it’s still quite a surprise move from Mourinho and co.
We’re less surprised and see this as a deal that makes a lot of sense. Solbakken has already shown glimpses of what he can do against top opposition and, whilst he’s yet to prove that consistently, the deal will be low risk with him having just a few months left on his contract. If he can add competition and cover to the attacking positions it would be a smart move. The fact his style has been likened to Arjen Robben – a player Mourinho enjoyed great success with – adds another layer of intrigue too.
Roma will likely come up against Senesi in the Conference League final next week but, next season, it’s looking plausible he’ll be playing for the Giallorossi. Mourinho loves a strong backline and although it’s been okay this year, depth has been a real issue with the likes of Bryan Cristante having had to slot in at times. Senesi would bring that cover and a bit more. He’s a player that is at a good age, 25, and in a good place contractually – at least he is from Roma’s position. With just 12 months left to run a fee of £5m could be enough. Statistically, he compares favourably to both Marash Kumbulla and Gianluca Mancini too with better aerial and ground duel success rates than both.
This man, Benjamin Bourigeaud, is arguably the hottest link so far. The central midfielder, who can also play wide, has played nearly every minute for Rennes this season and has been their star man with 24 league goal contributions in the shape of 11 goals and 13 assists.
He’s not a player that likes to carry the ball but he more than makes up for that with his passing ability and his desire to attempt killer balls in the final third; he played 3.4 key passes per game in Ligue 1 this season and could help Roma become even more potent in attack.