The verdict on Mourinho’s Serie A campaign at Roma ahead of Conference League Final

by | May 24, 2022 19:33

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Does any team in world football have a bigger gap between expectation and reality? For years, Giallorossi supporters would be disappointed at not winning the Scudetto, yet they have only won it three times in their entire 95-year history.

They were Champions League regulars throughout the 2000s and 2010s but have now been missing from the competition since 2019.

So what was the expectation for Jose Mourinho’s side?

As a whole, it has been an inconsistent campaign – packed with a few memorable highs and some terrible lows without ever reaching a point where Mourinho’s position was in question.

A sixth-place finish is just about acceptable given their European exploits. Even if it is still a place below rivals Lazio. The top four in Serie A are teams which Roma simply don’t have the depth or quality to compete with.

Though Mourinho would certainly have liked to take more points off them. Roma’s two draws against Napoli were as good as it got for the Giallorossi in clashes with the league’s big boys as they lost every other encounter with the home defeat to Juventus a particularly low moment.

The capital side were leading 3-1 with 20 minutes remaining – and seven minutes later were 4-3 down. Their misery was compounded by Lorenzo Pellegrini’s late penalty miss.

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However, arguably their best Serie A performance of the campaign was reserved for the match they need to win most: the Rome derby.

Having lost his first encounter with the Bianconcelesti, Mourinho was determined to make up for it when the two sides met again later in the campaign and a fired-up Roma raced out of the blocks with Tammy Abraham scoring twice inside the first 22 minutes and Pellegrini capping off a famous win with a stunning free-kick.

Roma started the season off well. They opened with a 3-1 win over an impressive-looking Fiorentina side and claimed maximum points from their first three matches.

Mourinho soon endeared himself to the Roma faithful as he ran down the touchline to celebrate Stephan El Shaarawy’s last-gasp winner against Sassuolo.

On matchday four, they lost 3-2 at Verona to kickstart a run of three defeats from their next five matches which included losses to arch-rivals Lazio and Juve.

Immediately following the defeat to the Bianconeri, Mourinho suffered the biggest reverse of his career when Roma were hammered 6-1 by Norwegian minnows Bodo/Glimt in an infamous Conference League night in the Arctic Circle.

Roma’s entire campaign has been one of inconsistency: never losing more than two matches in a row and – on two occasions – winning three consecutive games.

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Mourinho’s reaction to setbacks has been similar to what we witnessed during his time at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, which has been to question his players’ mentality.

That criticism struck a particular chord with Roma supporters given it is the exact criticism which has been levelled at the players for several seasons now – but that doesn’t mean it is the root of an underwhelming first half of the season.

The 4-3 defeat to Juve on matchday 21 was Roma’s ninth of the campaign and left them in sixth place, nine off a top-four spot.

Roma then went on a 12-match unbeaten run which only ended with a 3-1 defeat on Mourinho’s first league visit to face former club Inter at San Siro as the Giallorossi turned their focus to the upcoming Europa Conference League semi-final with Leicester City.

The way the season has panned out, with Roma’s best league form coming during the period where there was no European football can justify Mourinho’s claim that, despite spending more than €100 million in the summer, his team lacks depth.

Roma have struggled to keep the fight up on multiple fronts. Their season also started slightly earlier than their rivals with the Conference League play-off first leg against Trabzonspor taking place three days before their Serie A opener against Fiorentina.

At present, Roma fans would deem this campaign the lowest possible level of acceptability. There is an obvious sense they could have done more in individual matches but overall, there have been some high moments.

Of course, victory over Feyenoord in Wednesday’s final would swiftly turn 2021-22 into one of the few truly memorable seasons in Roma’s history.



    You could say it was a typical Roma season in many ways.

    Mourinho had a far higher net spend in transfers than Fonseca did, so more was expected of him.

    But if they win the cup tonight, then the season will be seen as a success.

  2. Feroli

    At the beginning of the season a top 4 was the minimum. But expectations were lowered as the reality of the quality of the team was obvious. Roma are in the EL next season and play a final tonight. Mourinho is still here and has not flounced out so all is good.

  3. Forza Roma

    One point more than Fonseca, is this “special one” ability ? I guess not. 3x higher salary than Fonseca, this season in Serie A Jose is a total disaster.
    Only victory over Feyenoord can change that story…

  4. ROMAntic

    Thank you, Forza Roma. I thought I was the only Romanista not convinced by Mourinho and living in a weird reality.
    I agree, if Roma wins today the season will be good.

  5. geedup

    @Forza Roma What you’re not taking into account was that, once Roma could no longer qualify for UCL, Mourinho put more focus on the ECL, which was probably why Roma went 5 games between April and May without a win. It was very similar to when he won the UEL with Man United and finished 6th in the league. The fact you say a single victory will make the season a success shows he has done well getting Roma to an European final. If Roma win, he will make history for the club. Say what you want about him but that is why Mourinho differs from Fonseca.

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