In a shocking turn of events, Jose Mourinho has been hired as Roma’s new boss. The 58-year old will hope to turn La Lupa into title contenders, but he can be under no illusions as to the size of the task he faces.
A man accustomed to managing super clubs will take over a side set for a 7th-placed finish in Serie A, and with that in mind, here are the three most prominent tasks in Mourinho’s tray.
At their best, Paulo Fonseca’s Roma was capable of dazzling attacking displays that drew plaudits from fans and neutrals alike. However, a wretched defensive record ultimately eclipsed those pretty attacking patterns and ensured that the former Shakhtar strategist was not able to qualify for the Champions League in either of his two campaigns in charge.
La Lupa’s leaky backline conceded 51 times last season in Serie A, and they’ve already surpassed that total with four matches still to play this term (53 goals conceded). Shooting for a Champions League spot is nearly impossible with such an error-prone backline. The Giallorossi have conceded more than 100 goals over two seasons with the former Shakhtar tactician in the dug-out.
Mourinho is known for being a conservative coach, and a heavy dose of pragmatism will be needed if the Portuguese hopes to reinforce his rearguard.
Struggles against the big boys
Over the last two years, the Giallorossi have become a flat-track bully. An inability to beat superior sides has been a recurring theme of the Fonseca regime, and Mourinho must find a way for his charges to compete better against the cream of the crop.
Fonseca’s only win against the top four in 2019-20 was a 3-1 final round success over a heavily rotated Juventus that had already secured the Scudetto. That represented a poor return for Roma, but things have taken a turn for the worse this campaign.
La Lupa are winless in 12 games against the current top eight (six draws, six losses) with a goal difference of -15. Heavy defeats against the likes of Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio have underlined the distance between the capital club and their direct competitors.
Although Mourinho’s main focus will be on the training pitch, he will have to give plenty of attention to the treatment table as well. La Lupa’s attempts to juggle domestic and European competition have proved futile in the face of a growing injury crisis, with a host of key names spending significant time in the infirmary over recent months.
The muscle injuries that forced off Jordan Veretout and Leonardo Spinazzola inside the first 37 minutes at Old Trafford have shone a spotlight on Fonseca’s medical staff and left the Friedkins considering changes in that department. Money must be spent this summer to renovate a subpar squad, but the players that can still help the cause must be kept fit.