On Thursday in Switzerland, Jose Mourinho tried to find the precious balance between resting some of his heavy-minute eaters like Gianluca Mancini and Rick Karsdop and playing an eleven that was strong enough to take home three vital points toward Europa League progression. Ultimately, the 1-1 draw that secured Roma’s advancement in the competition was far from ideal, as the Giallorossi will now need help to win their group on match day 6.
And the underwhelming performance from some players who were granted a start at Servette drew the ire of Mourinho in the media on Friday. When the topic was brought up again at his Saturday presser, Mourinho wouldn’t name names, but he made it clear that he let those players hear it behind closed doors.
“But as for what I said and the rumours that I’ve heard [following Servette v Roma], people are wasting their time if they think I’m going to name some of the players I was talking about. That’s not me. Yes, behind closed doors I’ll single out individuals – in fact, we had some productive discussions today. I also said a few weeks ago that the better your relationship is with a person, the more comfortable you are when it comes to dishing out the negatives, because – as you know – where empathy and love are present, it’s easier to get back to business.
“I spoke my mind and I’m standing by what I said. The relationships here are strong and that’s what allows us to regroup and go to Sassuolo in search of a result. In terms of this match, I don’t want to say that I’m scared – nothing in the game scares me – but for various reasons the prospect of it doesn’t make me feel at ease.”
That said, Mourinho said he gives his players third and fourth chances—not only second chances. And that’s why Rick Karsdorp has re-established himself after coming under fire from his manager last season. Mourinho praised Karsdorp and confirmed him as a starter while discussing his substitution patterns the last few matches.
“We can talk briefly about Karsdorp because we’re talking about people who sometimes have the wrong attitude when they come off the bench. And that’s exactly what happened with Karsdorp against Sassuolo.
“We had that problem there. We almost went our separate ways but in the end empathy and a good relationship brought us back together and now we’re in a good situation. He’ll play tomorrow. I understand that Ricky is Ricky and he has his strengths just as he has his weaknesses. That’s how he is.
“He didn’t play the last game, he’s fresh and he’s one of the few who can play without any fatigue. I’m expecting him to have an excellent game.
“If we’re talking about substitutes, we should talk about our subs against Udinese because they won the game for us. In our last match they didn’t change anything. The team didn’t improve with our subs, but we didn’t draw because of them. It was because of all of us. Myself included. Perhaps I made a few wrong decisions – not with the subs but with the starting XI, which perhaps wasn’t solid enough. We could have been 3-0 up at the break and we wouldn’t be here talking about it now.”
However, outside of Karsdorp and the three center-backs, Mourinho didn’t discuss other starters. Nevertheless, with a full week of rest before next weekend’s Fiorentina match, don’t expect Mourinho to worry about resting some of his top players like Paulo Dybala. It should be Roma’s strongest available XI on Sunday at the Mapei.
ROMA (3-5-2): Patricio; Ndicka, Llorente, Mancini; Spinazzola, Paredes, Crisntante, Pellegrini, Karsdorp; Dybala, Lukaku.