Considering the hype surrounding the upcoming England-Italy Euros final, you’d be excused if you had forgotten that José Mourinho’s first press conference was today. The Portuguese manager didn’t mince his words with the media, which is kind of par for the course for a Mourinho presser; nevertheless, he was insistent that Roma is a project bigger than him or The Friedkin Group, which should be reassuring for those who might worry that Mou’s star power is eclipsing that of the club itself.
If you want the full transcript of his press conference, you can find it on Roma’s official website (along with a whole wardrobe of José Mourinho gear to wear... which I don’t totally understand, but hey, whatever keeps the lights on). We’ve compiled most of the presser here, with Miotto’s Musings coming out of its post-graduation stupor to comment on José’s first words to the notoriously combative Roman media.
“I want to thank the fans for their warm welcome, it was incredible as I still haven’t done anything. I thank the club and the Friedkin family, the way I was welcomed was fantastic and I was impressed,” Mourinho said.
“Dan and Ryan Friedkin have a clear project, they want to build a future for Roma. The word ‘time’ sometimes doesn’t exist in football. This time, it exists and it’s crucial.
“Roma don’t want success today, but they want a sustainable project for the future, working with passion. That’s why I am here.
“Now it’s time to work with my staff, the city is great, but it’s not the reason why I am here because I am not on holiday.
“The symbol, the colours, have a great link with the club, sometimes you confuse the city of Rome with Roma, but we are here to work, not on holiday.
“I had to change mobile No. three times because you [journalists] always manage to have it. Jokes aside, it’s incredible [to be back]. I’ve missed Italy, but there’s a lot of work to do.
“You know I am not too nice when I work, because I need to defend the club.”
Miotto’s Musing: “There’s much work to do” is pretty boilerplate stuff for an introductory press conference, but it’s certainly true for José and this Giallorossi side. He may be saying all the right things about this incarnation of Roma needing to be a long-term project, but The Friedkin Group has to be expecting a major improvement upon last season’s performance at the very least.
Simply put, Champions League football is a must for a club like Roma. No lowering of expectations following Mourinho’s signing, by Mourinho or Tiago Pinto or even the owners, will change that in the eyes of the fans, and missing out on Champions League football yet again next season might doom Mourinho quickly.
How will he change the club’s mentality?
“The first step is to know the group. I can’t change something before knowing the players. Some principles are not negotiable. Today is the first training session and I want the players to understand how we work straight away. I always want 100 per cent from everybody.
“I spent the quarantine at Trigoria, so I had a chance to speak to many people and I saw a great desire to work together, that was a great feeling.”
Has he talked to players like Gigio Donnarumma or Sergio Ramos to convince them to move to Roma?
“I’ve spoken to nobody, believe me, or not. I speak to Tiago, the owners, but not with other players.”
Is this the biggest challenge in his career?
“The next challenge is always the most important one, so yes.
“When we talk about Italian football we talk about the EURO finalists, and most of the Azzurri players play in Serie A. If the Italian league is not seen as a top league, it’s our responsibility and we have to do something more.
“I work for Roma, but, indirectly I work for Italian football too.”
What does he think about Edin Dzeko? Will he be the captain next season?
“I don’t have to tell you what I do in my club. I can’t share with you this information. The club directors will be the first ones to be informed.”
What are his plans regarding Leonardo Spinazzola and Bryan Cristante?
“We are all happy that these players are part of a national team that is doing really well and has 50 per cent chances to return here as EURO champions.
“I’ve never worked with them, but I feel they are my players. Cristante proves the national team is full of great players, but only 11 can play. Mancini can’t change this, he respects Cristante and relies on him.
“As for Spinazzola, it’s a sad situation for all of us, but he is incredible for his joy. He is a positive person, but we won’t have him for a long time, it’s tough for him and us.
“We have a young player like Riccardo Calafiori, he can be a first-team player, but we need a left-back, sorry director [Tiago Pinto].”
Miotto’s Musing: First things first: sorry Richy, it looks like you’re not the guaranteed starter at left-back coming into the fall. On a more serious note, we’re seeing Mourinho temper expectations about signings in these questions, trying to bat away Roma’s links to Gigi Donnarumma and Sergio Ramos by saying Tiago Pinto is the only one in charge of transfers. That’s a smart move for sure, although it certainly won’t stop the continuous stream of “Mourinho Called X Player And Asked Them To Sign With Roma” articles that we’ll see until Mourinho leaves the club.
Mourinho’s words on mentality and Džeko are pretty standard; yes, desire is important, and yes, the club directors will probably know more about Džeko’s future before we here at CdT can write an article up. Nevertheless, it’s good to see that Mourinho is saying all the right things at the beginning of his tenure here; it remains to be seen if Mou can avoid ruffling feathers in his squad as he has done before, but let’s just hope that no rift develops between him and Nicolò Zaniolo.
When asked what has changed since he left Inter (and Serie A) in 2010:
“I am the Roma coach, I don’t want to be anything else. There’s a lot to do here, I’ll be covering this role for 24 hours, except a few hours I need to sleep.
“If, during this time, we can give something to Italian football, that would be great. Many things can happen and I will give everything to defend my players, but I won’t be the one looking for trouble, I don’t have time for that. I have more experience now, so I am more solid emotionally, but I will always defend my club.
“I won three trophies at Manchester United and that was seen as a disaster. I reached a cup Final which I was not allowed to play at Tottenham, which was seen as a disaster. What’s a disaster for me is considered a great success for others.”
When asked about pundits claiming that after his time with Manchester United and Tottenham, he is not the same “Special One”:
“I have nothing to say. In my last three clubs, I won the title at Chelsea, three cups at United, and I reached a Final at Tottenham, where we arrived sixth starting from 12th, reaching the Europa League. What’s considered a disaster for me it’s something that others have never achieved, it’s my fault.
“Roma don’t belong to me, but to Romanists, I am just one more. I don’t like to hear Mourinho’s Roma, but if you want, you can talk about Sarri’s Lazio, or Allegri’s Juventus.”
Miotto’s Musing: Well, it certainly seems like there’s no love lost between José and the non-Chelsea English clubs he’s managed, and for good reason. It is kind of incredible that his time at those clubs is viewed as a failure, considering he won three trophies with Manchester United and got Tottenham just as close to a trophy as anyone has in recent times. We’ll see how much “I won’t be looking for trouble” holds up the deeper Mourinho gets in to managing Rome, and that “Sarri’s Lazio or Allegri’s Juventus” soundbite already suggests that we might get some spicy quotes from The Special One sooner rather than later.
Remember: even even-keeled managers like Paulo Fonseca and Rudi Garcia seemed to start looking for trouble here and thereafter a bit of time in the Giallorossi hot seat.
Would it be a failure to end the season without trophies?
“You always talk about titles, we talk about the project and work. It would be easy to promise a title, but the reality is different.
“We talk about the project and about improving. You talk about titles, we talk about projects. The owners don’t want an isolated success, they want to get there and stay there, which is more difficult.
“It’s easy to win and have no money to pay salaries, but we want to be sustainable and the club and I share the same view. We’ll work and we’ll reach a title.”
On his plans for Nicolò Zaniolo:
“We need to understand and communicate. There’s a very technical team here, with great passion. Many players have left their comfort zone to come here and work with us, there is a lot of work to do.
“Zaniolo has an incredible talent, like many others in this team, we know his injury history, we need to find the best habitat for him and the others.”
Miotto’s Musing: I’m certainly glad to hear that Mourinho agrees with me and the city of Rome that Zaniolo is a special talent, but it’s even more important that he recognizes that Zaniolo needs to be treated right so his injuries don’t derail his promising career. As for his answer about Roma’s trophy aspirations for this season, I’m glad he’s once again trying to reset expectations. I don’t expect Roma to win a Scudetto or Coppa this year; let’s just hope that those expectations are kept low for an extended period of time, even if the Giallorossi have a hot start to the season.
On his tactical plan for the Giallorossi:
“We have an idea, but we must work on it. We must understand how we can put each player in the best position.
“Football has changed a lot, now it’s more difficult to decide a single system, nowadays you need to be able to change and have more options. Players have a better tactical culture now.”
Does the All or Nothing series reflect the True Mourinho?
“The cameras were there, but they were hidden. You think about them for the first week or two, but after that, not as much.
“Imagine after a game you arrive in the dressing room and you act naturally, you forget there are cameras, but please don’t give ideas to Friedkin Production,” he said with a smile on his face.”
On if he’s sorry that he won’t meet Antonio Conte in Inter vs. Roma, and if Cristiano Ronaldo be worried about his return?
“There are some coaches in the clubs’ history that you should never compare to others. For this club, don’t compare Capello or Liedholm to other coaches.
“For Inter, never compare others to Herrera or me, because you just can’t do that.
“Ronaldo should not be worried about me because I am not playing at centre-back. Had I played centre-back, I’d hit him, but unfortunately, I am not good enough and I am too old to play against him.”
Miotto’s Musing: Although it’s pretty funny to imagine Mourinho suiting up in some New Balance cleats (hey, Dan and Ryan, where are the kits??) to slide tackle CR7, that little dig at Conte is definitely the highlight of this part of his presser. It’s certainly true that Mourinho’s time with Inter is likely to go unmatched for decades, if not longer; still, comments like that make me wish we were getting the Conte vs. Mourinho matchup two times a season.
As for “The True Mourinho”, you have to imagine that the Friedkins might be a bit disappointed that they might get some resistance from José on another documentary following him and his club around. I’m okay with it, though; season 2 of Ted Lasso is coming out soon anyway.
Where does Mourinho see Roma in three years?
If Roma win something within three years, is he aware how many parents will name their children Jose?
Miotto’s Musing: I see Roma celebrating something in three years too, José. Let’s just hope it’s not your sacking.