Jose Mourinho and AS Roma seem like a good fit, after the Portuguese was surprisingly named as the club’s new coach on Tuesday, but it is unlikely to be an easy return to management for a man with a point to prove.
“No break, I am always in football” was the short, sharp response Mourinho gave reporters after his sacking by underperforming English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur 15 days ago.
However, few expected him to be back quite so soon.
Several Italian newspapers on Tuesday carried stories on former Juventus manager Maurizio Sarri being lined up to replace the under pressure Paulo Fonseca, with no mention of Mourinho.
Yet, hours after Roma confirmed that Fonseca would depart at the end of the season, Mourinho’s return to Italy was announced, with the 58-year-old to succeed his fellow countryman from the start of the 2021-2022 campaign.
A return to Italy, on the face of it, seems to suit Mourinho.
While his last three jobs in England saw him leave Chelsea when they were languishing in 16th place in December 2015, fail to revitalize Manchester United’s fortunes and not live up to the billing at Spurs, Mourinho has only known success in Italy.
He steered Inter to an unprecedented treble in 2009-2010 before departing for Real Madrid, and is still held in high regard in Italy after having been so successful in the few seasons he coached in the country.
Yet there will be no time for Mourinho to get reacquainted with Italian soccer. Roma fans expect results and quickly.
“Roma is a difficult club [to coach],” former Roma manager Fabio Capello told La Presse. “It’s not enough to sign a great coach to win. You also need the players, but he [Mourinho] exceeds in difficult places. I hope for Roma fans that he does as well as he did at Inter.”
Without a league title since 2000-2001 under Capello, Roma enjoyed a successful spell between 2014 and 2018, finishing no lower than third in Serie A in five seasons.
Yet less than a year after steering Roma to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals and a third-placed Serie A finish in the 2017-2018 season, coach Eusebio di Francesco was sacked with the club outside the top four — such is the expectation at the Stadio Olimpico.
There is an intense media glare on the team too, with a daily newspaper dedicated to Roma and dozens of radio stations whose sole purpose is to analyze every aspect of the club.
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