Jose Mourinho reveals he turned down ‘the biggest offer’ in football to keep his word with Roma. ‘Three months ago, it seemed a tragedy I might leave. I am not the problem now.’
The match with Frosinone kicks off on Sunday at 19.45 UK time (18.45 GMT).
Renato Sanches, Tammy Abraham and Marash Kumbulla are still out of action, while Diego Llorente pulled up during Thursday’s 4-1 defeat to Genoa.
Chris Smalling is also still on the treatment table and must be evaluated.
That result left them nearer to the relegation zone than Europe, the worst start to a season in Mourinho’s entire club career.
“We want to win and we must win. We must not seek out any more alibis,” said Mourinho at the start of his press conference.
“I think having one point from the first three games was a weight on the shoulders of many players. I thought that after the wins over Empoli and Sheriff, we could take that weight off, but that is not what happened.
“In any normal condition, a draw away to Torino would be a positive result. I expected consistency and more against Genoa, but that did not happen.”
At the final whistle, Mourinho and the entire Roma squad went over to the away section to receive the insults and call to action from the fans.
“Now how to we get back on track? First of all, we must have the courage to step onto the field tomorrow, have the courage to accept a reaction of great Romanism from the fans that can be of support or a manifestation of discontent.
“We must have respect for that manifestation, positive or negative, and have respect for Frosinone.”
Mourinho is into the third and final season of his Roma contract, so without mentioning the rumoured third season syndrome, he was asked if a new deal was offered, would be accept it?
“I don’t like talking about hypothetical situations. If it hasn’t happened, then I cannot answer that. What I can say is that three months ago, in Budapest, people acted like it was almost a tragedy I could leave.
“I told the players in Budapest that I would remain, two days later we played against Spezia, I got back on the field and told the fans I was staying here. Then two or three days later, I met with Dan Friedkin and gave him my word that I would stay.
“During the summer, I had the biggest, craziest offer of work that a coach has ever had in the history of football and I turned it down because I gave my word to my players, to Friedkin and to the fans.
“Three months later, it seems as if I am a problem, but I won’t accept that. I don’t read papers or watch TV, but my friends tell me this is what is being said. I am not the problem. Things have many factors. You cannot say one person is responsible for victories either. We all are.
“I gave my word and will respect it until June 30, 2024. I am here to fight every day for the players, the club owners and the fans, Only one person can tell me it is over before June 30 and that is Mr Friedkin. If he doesn’t tell me that, then I am here until June 30.
“Tomorrow I have no fear of stepping out onto that field and being the subject of protests.”
The matter of the third season curse was back in the headlines this week, but the Special One rejects it.
“I don’t see it that way, I think if a person is happy, he does not change, it doesn’t matter if it’s the third, fifth or 10th year. There are problems in the first too, if you talk about human relationships then we can be friends even after 50 years.
“I think when you no longer feel that love, you have to say enough is enough. Sometimes you are tired even if it’s a rapport without problems. There are coaches at clubs like Manchester City who can pay €100m for a new player without batting an eyelid.
“I think it’s not about time, but a rapport that either is there or isn’t, and in my case it is here. I don’t want to go back to the question about the hypothetical renewal, but I love coming to work every day and I cannot say I had a club where I enjoyed it more than anywhere else.”
Mourinho also comments on the growing injury list and points to the inevitability of these problems in a packed fixture list with a small squad.
“Tiago Pinto explained how Roma have to work within Financial Fair Play, take certain decisions and know that they are risky. With Smalling out, there were only three defenders during a period with a game every three days and Llorente’s injury was predictable with his history.
“As I said before, this is not the moment to find alibis or apportion blame, this is a consequence of Financial Fair Play, it is a situation I already knew could happen.”
Mourinho was asked if he expects more from his players.
“Yes, I also expect more from myself, as I am very demanding. When you concede two goals from set plays, I train on these situations, but I did not say to leave Lukaku on the line by himself. I expect more from everyone.
“There is empathy with these lads, they are my friends and I am their friend. That is the kind of bond that is priceless in these moments. A coach is always alone in difficult situations, but not with them. I like to be alone, to hide away and isolate myself at times, but with my players I never felt alone.
“I expect more of a mentality, hunger and responsibility. It is easier to say when you are with friends, I need more.”