The Giallorossi boss could win consecutive European finals with the Rome outfit, so why is the Portuguese manager’s future uncertain?
“My only focus is on the final,” Jose Mourinho asserted before Roma played Fiorentina on May 27, underscoring the manager’s feeling about the Giallorossi’s penultimate Serie A match of the season.
“Fiorentina a little bit, but more the Final. It’s all secondary when you play a Final. We’ve given so much to be here, and we want to play it - I only care about the Final.”
Roma did go 1-0 up in Florence after 11 minutes and seemed primed to claim an 18th win in Serie A, but the concession of two late goals three minutes apart saw the capital club lose 2-1. With that, Mourinho’s men kissed their top-four hopes goodbye.
Roma’s late Champions League lifeline
Roma had been handed a chance to make the Champions League via the league, even if this was contingent on results elsewhere going their way. (Spoiler alert: Milan beating Massimiliano Allegri’s side on Sunday meant a top-four berth was out of reach for the Rome outfit.)
Juventus’ 10-point deduction saw the Old Lady slip to seventh place in the league, opening the door to the Giallorossi to make a late play for one of the attractive spots behind champions Napoli.
Except that Mourinho’s team were playing catchup. The Portuguese manager had discarded domestic football for the Europa League, ergo prioritising continental triumph in the closing weeks of the season.
The Roma boss criticised the confused nature of Juventus’ league situation and the consequences of the Bianconeri’s late points deduction — which had affected other clubs around them.
While that is all well and good, the erstwhile Chelsea boss’ remarks are amusing for two reasons: he had mentioned in the last months that the 2022 Europa Conference League winners could not compete on multiple fronts due to injuries and an absence of depth.
17:17 - 30.05.2023
History is on the line as Sevilla take on AS Roma in the first of the three European club finals this season.
Furthermore, a points deduction was anticipated — even this writer was aware of the incoming punishment to be meted out weeks in advance — so was Mourinho truthfully oblivious?
The capricious state of play in that top-four tussle brought about the 60-year-old effectively tanking the Giallorossi’s league campaign.
Prioritising the Europa League was a potential win-win: Roma could claim back-to-back continental titles and might return to the Champions League for the first time since 2018-19.
Why is Mourinho’s Roma future in doubt?
As far back as March, reports in Italy linked Mourinho to the Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle United jobs.
The former is understandable owing to a good-natured relationship with Luis Campos but the latter is unlikely with Eddie Howe not expected to leave the Magpies just after masterminding the club’s Champions League return after a 20-year absence.
Real Madrid has been mentioned, as Carlo Ancelotti’s future remains uncertain. Florentino Perez has appointed Zinedine Zidane and Ancelotti twice, and it will not be out of place to suggest a second spell at Los Blancos for the 2012 LaLiga champion.
Roma has embraced Mourinho, but a manager who still considers himself among the elite is unlikely to say no if a club of higher standing approaches, especially as the 60-year-old may look at his ongoing stint with positivity.
18:37 - 30.05.2023
AS Roma's Jose Mourinho reveals he has made a decision on his future, but denies being in negotiations with other clubs.
Has Mourinho’s Roma spell been a success?
Ask the man himself, and you are likely to be met with an affirmative response.
The Roma boss believes year two has been a success regardless of the outcome of the Europa League final due to the little transfer spend last summer.
“Nobody saw us here,” was Mourinho’s pithy response after Roma’s 2-2 draw with Salernitana when it was put to him that Tiago Pinto, the club’s director, stated that a Champions League return was the club’s ambition at the start of the season.
Roma’s net spend in 2021-22 outdid the whole league and strikingly eclipsed the previous 20 seasons, underlining the backing that Mourinho has received in the Eternal City, as a whole.
19:10 - 27.05.2023
Roma’s faint hopes of qualifying for the Champions League in Serie A came to an end after a loss in Florence.
Consistency in the league has been hard to find, with the Giallorossi unable to surpass last year’s 63 points (they are on 60 points heading into the final gameweek).
For context, the club finished with 77, 66, 70 and 62 points in the years preceding Mourinho since Luciano Spalletti led the Rome outfit to second place in 2016-17 with 87 points.
A comparison of Roma's net spend vis-a-vis the other top sides in Italy paints a balanced view regarding the experienced tactician's time at the club.
Despite this season's rollback, the numbers show that only AC Milan and Juventus have had a higher net spend than the Giallorossi since Mourinho took the helm in Rome.
The Portuguese has not mounted a sustained challenge in Serie A but must be credited for winning the club’s first-ever European title last year — thus ending the club’s 14-year wait for a trophy — and possibly claiming another against Sevilla on Wednesday, winning consecutive continental honours and seeing to a Champions League return in the process.
Mourinho has never been beaten in a European final, but Sevilla never loses at this stage in the Europa League.
Indeed, one record must tumble on Wednesday. But regardless of the outcome, Roma will cherish these two years of Mourinho if Budapest proves to be his final act in Rome.