Europe or Saudi Arabia: What Awaits Mourinho Next?
Speculating about the future of the renowned coach.
The third-season syndrome has once again become symbolic for Jose Mourinho. As it happened at other clubs, the specialist faced problems in his third season at the helm of Roma, leading to his dismissal. After two European cup finals and a won title, it was expected that the Portuguese would at least see out the season with the Roman club. There were even rumors about a possible contract extension. However, Mourinho was unexpectedly fired mid-season, with Daniele De Rossi taking his place. A highly questionable decision by the "Wolves," but it's already been made.
Was everything really so wrong at Roma under Jose's leadership? Probably not. The coach won a European cup for the Romans in his first season. One can argue about the significance of the Conference League. Still, for Francesco Totti, for example, it was a meaningful trophy. He was very happy for his hometown club, and for the current Roma, winning this tournament can indeed be considered a success. The "Wolves" triumphed on the European stage for the first time since 1961! In the last season, Roma reached the Europa League final with Mourinho – also a significant achievement. Losing to Sevilla in the Final is nothing to be ashamed of.
In Serie A, Roma finished sixth two seasons in a row. Generally acceptable. It's unlikely that the Romans could compete for the Champions League with a limited budget and a high number of injuries. Interestingly, in the current season, the "Wolves" had a chance to make it to the top 4. Before Mourinho's departure, Roma was five points away from the Champions League zone, but Jose was still sacked. Without him, it's doubtful that Roma can reach the Champions League and replicate last year's Europa League journey. Firstly, the "Wolves" lost a specialist in European competitions. Secondly, De Rossi needs to gain experience in independent coaching.
Compared to the previous season, Roma experienced a noticeable decline. They scored 9 points less, conceded 6 more goals, and missed out on three victories over the same period in the previous campaign. The team's expected goals per match dropped from 1.51 to 1.37. However, it cannot be said that the "Wolves" had a meager scoring rate. Roma ranks 5th in Serie A for the number of goals scored (34), surpassing Fiorentina and Lazio, who are higher in the table. However, Roma conceded a lot – an average of 1.19 goals per match. The worst record among elite clubs is only held by Napoli.
The official reason for Mourinho's dismissal was the need for a "reboot" of the team and improved results. However, according to insider information, this was not the only reason. The Roma management was concerned that Jose's relationship with the players was deteriorating. The players with whom the specialist had conflicts included Rick Karsdorp, Chris Smalling, Leonardo Spinazzola, Renato Sanches, and Lorenzo Pellegrini. This is the only factor that justifies De Rossi's appointment. In theory, the club legend can improve the atmosphere in the team and restore unity, but this only sometimes works out. Frank Lampard experienced this firsthand.
Anyway, Roma is already a thing of the past for Mourinho. However, he undoubtedly left his mark on the club's history. What awaits Jose next? For many internet users, the answer was immediately apparent: Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the specialist himself desired to work in the Middle East. Several sources confirmed that the Portuguese was in talks with Saudi club Al-Shabab almost immediately after leaving Roma. The parties were close to an agreement, but Mourinho changed his mind and decided not to make hasty decisions. Jose chose to wait, and he probably made the right decision.
Is the European career of one of the best modern coaches really over? Labeling the Portuguese with various unflattering epithets is an exaggeration. Mourinho continues to bring trophies – that's a fact. Jose won titles at every club and could have ended Tottenham's trophy drought if allowed to play in the League Cup. Yes, in recent years, Mourinho's style of football may not be beautiful, but it brings results. Diego Simeone spent almost his entire career at Atletico "dry-cleaned" matches with top opponents, playing with strength against weaker ones. Mourinho does the same. However, in Rome, he had limited resources even for that.
Throughout the summer transfer window, Roma spent €10 million – a laughable amount by today's standards. Moreover, only Romelu Lukaku and Evan Ndicka more or less justified themselves. One Belgian with Paulo Dybala is insufficient for the whole team to achieve big goals. Pep Guardiola openly admits that his success at Manchester City is directly related to the quality of players the club buys for him. Roma's lineup is far from ideal, but even with it, Mourinho twice reached the finals of European competitions. There was a decline at Roma, but it's not only the coach's fault. Due to limited resources, the "Wolves" faced significant problems when key players, already few in number, ended up in the infirmary.
The last club where Jose had decent resources was Manchester United. And they won 3 trophies. Many high-profile coaches leave clubs after they can't meet their transfer demands. Mourinho at Roma worked with those who were available to him. Suppose the Portuguese get a decent European team with sufficient resources at his disposal. In that case, there is no doubt that he can achieve great goals with it. Jose may not be as successful as before, but he is still a top coach who doesn't need to rush to Saudi Arabia. He can still have his say in Europe.
Published by Patrick Jane