After a promising start to the season, Jose Mourinho and his Giallorossi side are gunning for Europe
Jose Mourinho has looked like a wounded animal more than once in his illustrious career. He's been written off even more. His stock had never been lower than it was after he was shown the door by Spurs Chairman Daniel Levy back in April just days before the London club lost the Carabao Cup final. There was talk of a sabbatical and many expected the Portuguese to be off duty for at least a few months, but it was barely two weeks later that he was announced as the new head coach of Roma, replacing compatriot Paulo Fonseca. This move was and still is seen as Mourinho's chance to rebuild his somewhat broken reputation but when you look at his record, having only really "failed" at Tottenham, we are still discussing one of the world's very best football managers. There must be optimism that he can return this gigantic club back to its rightful position challenging for titles and playing in Europe's elite competition.
The board at Roma not only made changes at head coach level. They also brought in a whole host of players in the transfer window, with a bunch moving in the opposite direction at the end of their contracts or out on loan. Of several big name departures, perhaps Edin Dzeko will be the biggest. A bonafide club legend is hard to replace. Pedro controversially joined city rivals Lazio on a free transfer. Alessandro Florenzi joined Milan on loan. Some big names came into the squad to fill those gaps. The most noteworthy was of course Tammy Abraham who switched the English capital for the Italian in a £36m permanent deal. The much talked about Uzbek international Eldor Shomurodov arrived from Genoa, reliable Portuguese goalkeeper Rui Patricio from Wolves and the loan deal for exciting young American full back Bryan Reynolds was made official.
Roma currently sit fourth in Serie A, three points clear of nearest rivals Fiorentina, and within touching distance of undefeated league leaders Napoli. It's been an exciting start to the season which has seen Mourinho's side score the third highest goals tally in the league so far. Fans will be disappointed to have lost the Rome derby to Lazio but will be buoyed by some good performances from their new signings, the appearance of cohesion in the camp and a solid start to their domestic campaign. Routine wins in their first two Europa Conference League matches won't hurt spirits either.
We wanted to know how fans are reacting to what they're seeing so far and what they think can be achieved this campaign. We caught up with Bren from Chiesa di Totti to get a Roma fan's perspective on Mourinho, the club's summer transfer dealings and expectations for this season.
Q. Roma currently sit fourth in Serie A after seven games, how would you rate the start to the season the club has had?
A. Well, 15 points from seven league matches and a perfect run through the Europa Conference League (so far), so it’s hard to view this as anything other than a smashing success. They tripped up twice, a pair of 3-2 defeats to Hellas Verona and then Lazio, but apart from that the results have come rather easily and the club has played some pretty exciting and aesthetically pleasing football. Considering all that, most Roma fans are over the moon at the moment.
Q. What was the general response to the appointment of Jose Mourinho and is he enjoying the fans' backing?
A. The general response was one of complete and utter shock! We kind of knew that Paulo Fonseca wasn’t going to be brought back, but for most of last spring a lot of Roma fans were expecting Maurizio Sarri to run the show, so to wake up one day and see that Roma actually hired José Mourinho was shocking on numerous levels. There were certainly some skeptics, especially given the negative press coverage from his time with Manchester United and Spurs, but he definitely appears to have the full backing from the majority of Roma fans.
Q. How do you feel about the start which Eldor Shomurodov has had to life in Rome? Could he prove to be a shrewd signing?
A. That’s a difficult question to answer. He’s certainly more well-rounded than I ever imagined, and had a terrific pre-season and notched two assists early in the season, but we’re starting to see some inconsistencies in his performances and he hasn’t really seized the opportunities given to him; he’s basically in a job share with Stephan El Shaarawy at the moment for minutes behind Henrikh Mkhitaryan. He signed a five-year deal with the club, which will pretty much coincide with his physical prime, so there is plenty of time for him to prove his worth. He has all the physical tools to succeed in Serie A but he will face stiff competition for minutes at Roma, so he has to make the most of any opportunity.
Q. Tammy Abraham raised some eyebrows when he took the leap and signed for Roma on a permanent deal. Based on what you've seen so far, does it look like £36m well spent?
A. Oh, absolutely, without a doubt. It will take a lot more than a few hot weeks to justify the €45 million Roma spent on him, but the early returns have been overwhelmingly positive. Based on his record with Chelsea and his earlier days in the Championship, we knew he could score in bunches, but he’s a far more complete striker than he’s given credit for. And even better than that, he really seems to be enjoying life in Roma and Serie A. I have zero doubts that he’ll become Roma’s next star player. Zero.
Q. He's not exactly Totti or De Rossi but 260 appearances across 6 seasons isn't nothing. How much will Edin Dzeko be missed and how will he be remembered by the Giallorossi?
A. Now that’s a difficult question to answer! Dzeko left the capital as Roma’s third all-time leading scorer, so even if some fans have gripes with him, his scoring record speaks for itself. Edin Dzeko is a Roma legend anyway you slice it. That his reputation isn’t more sterling is likely due to the past two-and-a-half seasons where his performances fluctuated, particularly his goal-scoring and shooting efficiency, while he was continually connected with a move to Juventus, a transfer that nearly came to fruition last summer--that combination tended to rub some fans the wrong way.
In terms of how his absence will be felt on the pitch, Tammy Abraham is slowly but surely erasing any concerns we had about Roma’s life post-Dzeko. Even when he wasn’t scoring, Dzeko’s ability off the ball and his willingness to do the dirty work kept Roma’s attack afloat many times, but as we’re seeing, Abraham is no slouch in those departments either.
Q. How optimistic are fans about what the team can achieve this season? What would represent a successful season for Roma and Mourinho?
A. Well, the hot start to the season has definitely ratcheted up expectations already, but I think most fans realize that Roma is not yet a finished product so I haven’t seen too many people talking about winning the league just yet. But considering how quickly the club is taking to Mourinho’s style, and with a few shrewd purchases in the winter transfer window, this team could easily compete for one of Serie A’s Champions League places. I think that’s a completely reasonable goal given everything we’ve discussed so far.
Next up for Roma is Juventus on Sunday (17 October). The Turin side looked to be in all sorts of trouble a few gameweeks ago as the return of Allegri did not appear to be going to plan. However, three wins on the bounce in all competitions and things seem to be turning around at just the wrong time for Mourinho's side to roll into town. It could be a difficult encounter and a point would probably suit Jose. They'll follow up that huge clash with a midweek game the following Thursday (21 October) against Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League.
You can follow Roma's journey by watching all their matches via live streaming with Bet 365. The world's favourite sports betting website has exclusive rights to live stream all Serie A matches. Simply sign up or login, click on the video icon next to the fixture of your choice and start streaming. Terms and conditions apply.
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