Well, it didn’t take long. Jose Mourinho has always been good at grabbing headlines with his press conferences. But after his AS Roma side lost 6–1 to Norwegian side Bodø/Glimt, he did it again. While getting himself out of harm’s way in record time – while throwing his players under the bus.
“I’m the one who decided to play with the team we used tonight, so it’s my responsibility,” he said after the Europa Conference League game. “Tonight we lost against a team with more quality, it’s as simple as that.”
So far so good, right? But with Mourinho there is always a twist. And that was going to come up too – in the same conversation, no less.
“If I could use the same players in every match, I would. I expected better, but it’s my responsibility. The good thing is that no one will ask me why the same players keep playing.
To be fair to Mourinho, he was stunned by the defeat. It was the heaviest defeat of his managerial career – and the first in which he conceded 6 goals.
– AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) October 21, 2021
But this is where the benefit of the doubt ends.
This is straight from the Mourinho play-book; Win and it’s all about that, lose and the players are not good enough. It’s a ploy as old as Mourinho’s managerial career. Although whether it will be effective or not is another matter.
Why Mourinho would choose to alienate an entire section of his squad in his first season alone is beyond this humble writer. But, given that Roma would want to compete for multiple honours, it seems silly at best and self-destructive at worst.
However, it could also be argued that this is what Mourinho does when he wants feedback from the players. Which brings us to the next question: will it really work?
History is not on Jose Mourinho’s side
The sad truth is that if we look at Mourinho’s history, these kinds of things don’t work. or, more specifically, they don’t work anymore,
The likes of John Terry and Frank Lampard – two players Jose Mourinho propelled to superstardom in his first stint at Chelsea – have spoken at length about how he keeps players on their toes.
He will be cheerful and full of laughter one day, and withdrawn and sad the next. This ensured that the players remained motivated to work hard at all times, as they were never sure where they stood with it.
However, just because something worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work again. And indeed, Mourinho’s record with man management – he has excelled in his prime since his stint at Inter Milan ended.
He left Real Madrid with a dressing room divided into factions brimming with egos. He left Chelsea for a second time with the team feeling ‘apparent discord’ towards them.
His time at Manchester United ended in similarly controversial circumstances. And at Tottenham Hotspur, he didn’t even last his second season; And again, he badly left a dressing room behind.
It is not hard to imagine that his displeasure could have a similar effect on his Roma squad. After all, most players would be happy at a club of that size under a manager of Mourinho’s stature.
But singling out an entire group as not being good enough will undoubtedly leave a mark. and may depart in haste.
Perhaps Mourinho is keen to see a little more change in the transfer market. However, that’s absolutely no excuse for the predicament the club – and he – find themselves in both.
Circumstances not in favor of ‘Special’
Roma spent lavishly in the transfer market this summer. Their outlay of around 100 million euros – more than any other Serie A side – immediately raised expectations.
It is worth noting that the money spent on transfers is not a factor in Mourinho’s contract. He is currently the highest paid coach in Italy.
According to football data website Transfermarkt, Roma’s current squad is worth around 429 million euros. In contrast, Bodo/Glimt’s team is valued at approximately… 14.5 million euros.
If money was everything, the Norwegian champions should never have even had a clue of beating Roma. but it’s not like that. That means Mourinho must focus on what he has – and what he can do with it.
In fact, Roma’s recent results are showing a clear drop in form. Roma earned a late win against Sassuolo in Mourinho’s 1,000th game as manager.
But since then there have been four defeats in seven matches. And while there have been mitigating circumstances – refereeing decisions cost them and they were unlucky to lose to Juventus – it is not a trend that can continue for much longer.
It’s not too panic stations at Roma yet – they currently sit fourth in Serie A and have plenty of quality in their squad to pull off this barren run.
But there is a lot at stake for Jose Mourinho. The way things ended for him at Tottenham raised many questions as to whether a top club would ever want to approach him.
Roma did this, which surprised many. But even this chance for Mourinho to reinvent himself could slip away if he continues to show that he is incapable of managing in the modern era of football.