Jose Mourinho remains on course to become “one of the most important coaches in the history of Roma”, general manager Tiago Pinto has declared.
Defeats to Milan and Venezia before the international break, either side of a draw with Bodo/Glimt in the Europa Conference League, came as a jolt to the Giallorossi.
They had previously won six of their first 10 Serie A matches of the campaign, with Mourinho making a strong start to his second club job in Italy, after a triumphant spell as Inter boss over a decade ago.
Now Roma face the challenge of building momentum afresh, starting on Sunday when they travel Genoa.
Pinto was pivotal in bringing Mourinho to Roma and is confident the former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United boss will lead the club to great success.
It has been a feature of their collaboration that Pinto and Mourinho have stressed there is a Roma “project”, and it is one that could take years to come to fruition.
Although Mourinho has previously had a reputation for quickly building a winning team, from day one it has been a different concept with Roma.
“He has built this image over time, because fortunately he has coached the biggest clubs in the world and maybe these teams do not have the time, the project and the strategy of Roma,” Pinto told Sky Sport Italia.
“But it would not have been possible to have a coach like Mourinho without this strategy. All the time he spends with the Roma youth team confirms that he is totally aligned with us.
“We cannot create an instant team like other teams do and this is not a criticism, but a truth. Mourinho is not only aware of this, but he is also aligned and the work he is doing proves this more than my word.”
Mourinho has given chances to young players, but he has also pointed to the weakness of his squad beyond the core of the first team, particularly in the wake of a 6-1 away loss to Bodo/Glimt.
Roma sit sixth in Serie A after 12 games but are already 13 points behind Napoli and Milan, and Mourinho said after the shock loss to Venezia that he felt his squad was no stronger than last season’s pool of players, despite a major transfer window overhaul.
He also said this season could prove “a painful one for body and soul”.
Pinto said that Roma’s studied effort to gradually build up the team “doesn’t mean we don’t want to win”, as he explained the signing of England striker Tammy Abraham from Chelsea.
“Maybe we confused people because we took Abraham, who is young but a great player,” Pinto said. “But we don’t want to make an instant team, we want to work in all areas and improve every day and in every transfer window.”
That final comment may indicate Roma will move again in the market in January, backing Mourinho by listening to his comments about where the squad is still falling short.
“Mourinho is important to us. We took him because his experience, his intelligence and his leadership were perfect to develop this three-year project of a change of mentality, reconstruction of the squad and development and improvement of all players,” Pinto added. “And I must say, after four months, that the choice was right and that he will be one of the most important coaches in the history of Roma.”
There are already signs of substantial improvement at Roma, when balancing this term’s performances against those of last season.
When it comes to committing errors leading to shots by the opposition, in 2020-21 Roma were allowing 0.71 per Serie A game, but that has come down to 0.42 this season.
Roma are having 18.5 shots per game, compared to 14.34 under Paulo Fonseca last term. They are creating 14.5 chances per game, a step up from 10.76 in 2020-21.
If their big-chance conversion rate had not fallen away, from 41.35 per cent in 2020-21 to 32.14 per cent, the season might have begun in even brighter fashion.
Passes played into the box have shot up (28.24 to 33.33 per game), while the aerial challenges won/loss ratio is a healthier 175:141 so far under Mourinho after last season’s 461:443 split, a sign his slowly-slowly revolution in Rome is taking effect.
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