Jose Mourinho was happy with his team’s response following his suggestions that they were “mentally weak”.
The Giallorossi need a strong home win against the struggling Sardinian side tomorrow if they want to restore faith from their fans, following the painful 4-3 comeback loss to Juventus last weekend. The team currently sit 6th in the Serie A table, six points behind the Bianconeri.
Speaking to gathered reporters in a press conference today, Mourinho first discussed tomorrow’s opponents Cagliari, and what his team needs to do.
“I think this position in the table is temporary, I don’t think they will be there at the end of the season. They’ve scored six points in their last two games and they’re coming to Rome to try and get points. They’re a team capable of playing against teams with more potential.
“We’ve picked up one point in the last three and at the very least we need to pick up four points in the next four games is a good enough maximum. Having the courage to play the next game is never easy when you come from a defeat like the one on Sunday.
“I’m sorry there are only 5,000 spectators, let’s try to give something to the people who love Roma and can’t come to the stadium.”
He touched on where he’ll look to deploy new midfielder Sergio Oliveira and if he’ll be a key part in the buildup play.
“I haven’t thought about it yet, I don’t know. We have to decide. At this moment I can’t answer you, we’ve worked on so many things that we didn’t deal with the dead ball and the penalties during the week.
“We have given Sergio and Maitland-Niles tactical knowledge of the team and not only them, also those who have been here with me for a long time and are not yet close to being perfect tactically.
“Oliveira? I never thought I could get him, it wasn’t a name I had mentioned knowing our market profile and the importance he had in a team like Porto. I never thought it was possible to get him. And when I got the chance from Pinto I obviously said yes straight away. But not because he is a regista. He’s different, he has a character that we need, experience, personality.”
The Portuguese coach provided an update on the condition of Stephan El Shaarawy.
“I don’t know, he hasn’t trained with us once. If he trains today he’ll be on the bench. We’ll have five youth players on the bench. So if he trains today he’ll be on the bench.”
Mourinho was not sure all of the players who were unavailable for tomorrow’s match.
“I don’t know. I can tell you that he didn’t train with us, that’s why we train at 17:00. You already know who is disqualified. Stephan, Smalling and Karsdorp haven’t trained with the team. So we’ll see today.”
The former Chelsea coach touched on the recent drop in performances from midfielder Jordan Veretout.
“In normal conditions no player should be so important, until last week Karsdorp was fundamental, today he is not. With the many midfield players we are quite balanced and you can give the players and Veretout a little rest.”
He commented on the new arrivals and if the squad is complete now, or if there will be any other work on the transfer market.
“I’m happy and I thank the manager for the effort he has made to improve the squad. I’m an intelligent person who thinks we’ve done a good market with regard to our situation at the moment.
“We have found two options that improve the profile of the squad. They can play in different positions, so with two players we have improved.
“We think about Calafiori, Borja and their minutes played, the two new signings will do a lot more, so yes we have improved. I don’t think we can get a third, we are on January 15 and we have made two signings, I am happy.”
Mourinho spoke about the return of Leonardo Spinazzola and what he’s asked the squad to do when in possession.
“They did exactly what I didn’t ask them to do. It’s one thing to press high, it’s another to press in a block. Dybala’s goal was the second time it happened. The right midfield player was pressing the ball and the second wasn’t covering. We did the opposite of what we’ve been working on.
“Spinazzola I’d like to know who is the phenomenon who wrote that he would return in November after that injury. If he wrote that he’s crazy. A super difficult injury is impossible to recover for November.
“From day one I thought I wouldn’t have Spinazzola this season, if he arrives in May or mid-April I’m happy. It’s too difficult an injury to recover from. I’m calm and happy, let’s try to give him the right message. he must stay calm.”
The Portuguese coach touched on the team’s reaction to his words after the 4-3 loss to Juventus, where he called the players ‘psychologically weak’.
“They took it well. People who trust my experience and the process we are doing, I see positive people when we talk. What I say to the press I also say to them by going deeper. They are people who want to improve, they are not touchy and they accept criticism.
“That’s why I’m happy to work with these people. The psychological situation was obvious for everyone, but in that period when we suffered the three goals we made a foul, only I make four. We are a bit naïve. Sergio knew about us and said they’re so young here, Pellegrini and Mancini too, little by little with patience.”
Finally, Mourinho discussed the focus during training this week and what he expects against Cagliari tomorrow.
“The result clouds the 70 minutes outside, not inside. We can’t forget the 70 minutes, we have to take them and also analyse what we did well. In the 45 minutes of the meeting, 35 we dedicated to the 70 because we did many things well.
“The management of the ball, the pressing, the attitude, after the 2-1 also, but also every time the team made a mistake we analysed. After those 7 minutes we analysed the mental and psychological perspective, we also made individual mistakes.
“It was difficult to do that after the weight of that game. But again we worked well. As for Cagliari, I know Walter and we know that they are a competitive team who come here for one point, but they have the possibility to get three. We’ve prepared the team knowing who they’re up against, we need points, it’s not the result that counts but we have to get the three points.”
— AS Roma (@OfficialASRoma) January 15, 2022