I seldom, if ever, do this, but I'm confident that I speak for most Roma fans when I say we weren't expecting that. There's no shame dropping points to Udinese on the road, but Roma was thoroughly dominated at the Dacia Arena tonight. There was a moment early in the first half when, after Paulo Dybala went on a darting run through the left channel and narrowly missed an opening goal in the first minute, it felt like only a matter of time before Roma ran Udinese off the pitch. But what transpired over the next 89 minutes was embarrassing, dispiriting, and completely unexpected.
However, the surprises didn't stop there. Rather than delivering a bombastic, public undressing of his team, José Mourinho took a measured approach in his post-match comments, hitting us with a classic that's life response when asked to explain tonight's defeat.
In light of a match review (and, really, who wants to relive this one?), let's look at the rest of Mourinho's c’est la vie quips from tonight's post-match presser.
Mourinho's more nuanced explanation for today's defeat:
“It was a tough match, just as we knew the opposition were going to make it tough for us. In games like this, generally speaking you can’t let yourself go behind early. They know how to defend tight and compactly and do a good job of running down the clock. They have smart, physical players. If you go behind against them you are already in a lot of trouble.
“We started well, we had that early chance for Dybala – who, for me, was the best player on the pitch, despite the final scoreline. After [they scored] we were in their hands a bit; every time they got on the ball it was either a counter-attack or a goal.
“We did not take advantage of the opportunities we had. When we hit the post that could have changed the game, just like it could have done if we had got a penalty – although maybe there was an offside beforehand. When you lose 4-0, though, you can’t talk about the officials. That’s a rule of mine.
“I would rather lose one game 4-0 than four games 1-0. That’s for sure. We have lost three points whereas if you lose another three games you drop 12. It’s a tough one to take for both us and the fans, but that is life. Tomorrow is another training session and on Thursday we have another game. We move on.”
Mourino expanded on Roma's poor finishing when asked if they lacked quality tonight:
“My side was playing a particular opponent. It all depends who you are playing against and how the games pan out. We had the chances to get back into the contest but we did not take them. They did, thanks in part to some individual mistakes that we made.
“But in my teams any individual mistakes become collective ones. We made mistakes at key points in the match, when it was still all to play for. It’s a tough one but we have 10 points right now, we are still up there.”
Despite the ugly performance against Udinese, Roma is only one point behind now league-leading AC Milan. When asked how he addressed the squad after the final whistle, Mourinho, as always, was frank:
“I told them what I just told you; it’s better to lose one game 4-0 than four of them 1-0. Thursday we have another game.
“We know this opposition very well. When you lose you can’t talk about the referee, but when we found out it was going to be him officiating the game there was the feeling that he was a good referee for a team like Udinese. The first yellow card was a bit of a sign of what was to come in the game. But enough, the responsibility, as always, lies with me.”
With Roma's Europa League campaign beginning Thursday on the road against Ludogorets, the Giallorossi won't have much time to dwell on tonight's defeat anyway. In time, this defeat could become a lightning rod for Roma, who should have ample motivation to prove this 4-0 thrashing was an anomaly.
As Mourinho said, that's life. Sometimes, you just have to lick your wounds and move on.
Let's hope for better on Thursday.