In the city of Rome, there is currently high optimism about what Roma can achieve. The Roman Empire is rising again… thanks to the "Special One".
On the 4th of May 2021, Italian club AS Roma announced that manager Paulo Fonseca would leave at the end of the 2020/21 season. The same day, Jose Mourinho was announced as Fonseca’s replacement on a 3-year contract, set to begin in the 2021/22 season.
Mourinho was chosen to revive the club’s fortunes and so far, the Portuguese is doing pretty well.
In this article, FootballOrbit discusses how “The Special One” has been rejuvenating the I Giallorossi.
Brief history of AS Roma
A.S. Roma was founded in 1927 (95 years ago) from the merger of three older Italian Football Championship clubs from the city of Rome.
The purpose of the merger was to give the Italian capital a strong club to rival that of the more dominant Northern Italian clubs of the time.
The club is based in the Italian capital city of Rome — famously called the “Eternal City”.
The Metropolitan City of Rome — with a population of 4,355,725 residents — is the most populous metropolitan city in Italy.
AS Roma was nicknamed as the I Giallorossi (The Yellow and Reds) but the club also has various other nicknames like La Lupa (The She-Wolf), La Magica (The Magic One), Capitolini (Capitoline), Lupetti (Little Cubs) and Lupi (Wolves).
Since 1953, Roma has played its home matches at the Stadio Olimpico — a venue it shares with city rivals, Lazio.
With a capacity of over 72,000, the Olimpico is the second-largest stadium in Italy, with only the San Siro able to seat more.
Roma has participated in the top-tier of Italian football for all of its existence, except in the 1951/52 season.
The club have won the Serie A title 3 times (in 1941/42, 1982/83 and 2000/01), as well as 9 Coppa Italia titles and 2 Supercoppa Italiana titles
But the club wasn’t successful in European competitions as it couldn’t win any of the two major trophies on the continental stage.
It was runner-up in the 1983/84 European Cup (now UEFA Champions League) and the 1990/91 UEFA Cup (now Europa League).
It won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1961 though.
After a successful era following the founding of the club, a period of decline came thereafter.
But Roma returned to form in the 2000s, beginning the decade in great style by winning the Serie A title (otherwise known as Scudetto) in 2000/01.
The title was dramatically won on the last day of the season as Roma defeated Parma 3–1, edging Juventus to the title by just two points.
The Scudetto win was majorly achieved by the goals of Argentine goal scoring machine, Gabriel Batistuta.
The club’s captain, Francesco Totti, was also very integral to the title victory. Totti would later become one of the main heroes in the club’s history — going on to break several club records.
Other important players during this period included: Cafu, Walter Samuel, Emerson, Daniele De Rossi, Aldair and Vincenzo Montella.
Roma’s Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Simone Perrotta were part of the Italian national team that won the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
After their league triumph in 2001, the club attempted to defend the title the following season but unfortunately ended as runners-up to Juventus by just one point.
This would be the start of a painful era which saw Roma finish as runners-up several times in both Serie A and Coppa Italia during the 2000s.
The Giallorossi earned a bad reputation of being chokers, not only domestically but also in European competitions as well.
After their legendary title win in 2001, Roma finished as runners-up in the Serie A without winning the title a record 9 times!!!
The club also got bedeviled by financial crisis which saw it undergo several change of ownerships.
The period also coincided with the domination of the Serie A by AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus.
Following his sacking by Tottenham in April 2021, many were stunned when AS Roma announced that Jose Mourinho would become their next manager, replacing compatriot Paulo Fonseca.
The move rocked the footballing world and was Mourinho’s return to Serie A following his triumphant exit from Inter in 2010.
He penned a 3-year contract with the club and insisted that his expectations were still incredibly high despite Roma’s lack of historical success.
“I guess the question is coming anyway, so perhaps I can answer it in advance:
‘Why am I here?’ Well, we are near to the statue of Marcus Aurelius and, as he once said, ‘Nulla viene dal nulla, nulla ritorna dal nulla’.
This has a very similar feeling to what I experienced when I spoke with Dan and Ryan (Friedkin) for the first time,”.
“What they want for the club is very clear. You should never forget the past, but we want to build a future. In football the word ‘time’ never seems to exist, but here it does”.
“What the ownership want is not success today and then problems tomorrow. Now the time has come to work. Along with my staff, those who have come with me, but my staff work with all of us. Everyone. We are not here on holiday, to be tourists: we are here to work.”
“Roma has the name, the symbol and the colours of Rome, it is linked with the city throughout the world. That’s a big responsibility. But we are here to work.”Jose Mourinho during his introductory press conference as Roma’s manager
After managing Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Manchester United, the Special One’s decision to join the Giallorossi caught many off guard.
The capital club hadn’t won a major trophy since 2008 and still had a long way to go before they can challenge the likes of Inter, Juventus, and AC Milan.
However, this didn’t dissuade Mourinho from accepting the role — after all, he relishes the ‘underdog’ mentality
Self-nicknamed as “The Special One”, the Portuguese coach is widely considered to be one of the greatest managers of all time and is one of the most decorated managers ever.
He achieved massive success at FC Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid
His second spell at Chelsea was mixed, likewise was his time at Manchester United — where he helped the Red Devils win the Europa League.
His reputation suffered a huge dent at Tottenham, where he famously got sacked ahead of the League Cup final.
Due to his tactical knowledge, charismatic and controversial personality, and a reputation for prioritising results over attractive football; Mourinho has drawn comparisons, by both admirers and critics alike.
Roma were most especially attracted to him due to his previous success in Italy with Inter Milan. He famously led Inter to an historic Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and the UEFA Champions League in 2010 — the first ever by an Italian club.
Jose Mourinho was warmly welcomed and adored by Roma fans — who saw him as the messiah to revive the club’s fortunes.
Mou got to business immediately, uniting and motivating the players — greatly inspiring them to take their games to an higher level.
The squad already comprised of the likes of Chris Smalling, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Carles Perez, Nicolo Zaniolo, Amadou Diawara, Gianluca Mancini, Stephan El Shaarawy and Felix Afena-Gyan.
Mourinho brought in some new players as well, with the most notable ones being Tammy Abraham and Rui Patricio.
“Every time I see him I am still starstruck,”Tammy Abraham when discussing about Jose Mourinho.
Abraham was signed in a big money move from Chelsea (€40 million).
He quickly justified the huge fee paid for him and Mourinho’s faith in him by scoring 27 goals in all competitions — including 9 in Roma’s run to the Europa Conference League title.
Mourinho is moulding Abraham to a striker like Didier Drogba.
Tammy Abraham was part of FootballOrbit’s pick for the 12 Players That Impressed In The 2021/22 Season.
Likewise, Patricio (a veteran goalkeeper) brought his vast experience to the team.
Mourinho also started doing what he did to huge effect in his first stint at Chelsea, throughout his time at Inter and for part of his time at Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Tottenham. He connected the fans and the team in a way very few managers in the world can do.
He formed a strong union with the fans that became the envy of many teams in Italy. Roma’s home matches were being attended by an average of 55,000 to 60,000 spectators per game.
Rome believed again……..
The team was performing efficiently on pitch as well. And to crown a successful debut season in Rome; on the 25th of May 2022, Mourinho led Roma to win the inaugural edition of the UEFA Europa Conference League.
Roma defeated a feisty Feyenoord side 1-0 in the final to become the first Italian team to win an European club competition since 2009/10 — remarkably, the last team to do so was Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan.
The win made Mourinho the first manager to both reach and win the final of a major European competition with four different clubs — Porto, Inter, Man Utd and Roma.
He also became first ever manager to have won all three major European club competitions — UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Conference League.
The Conference League (Europe’s 3rd-tier club competition) has been derided in some quarters, but for Mourinho; winning it was every bit as important as his two Champions League triumphs with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010, as well as his Europa League victory with Manchester United in 2017.
The UEFA Conference League was the 26th trophy of Jose Mourinho’s managerial career.
As winners, Roma automatically qualified for the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League group stage, although they had already done so through their league position. They finished 6th in Serie A.
Mourinho and his Roma team have infected the stands with the same kind of euphoria that they transmit on the pitch.
Those dismissing the Conference League as a minor trophy would have to tell that to the Roma supporters celebrating victory in Europe for the first time in 61 years!!!
After the triumph, the joy of the fans was unbridled and Mourinho was in tears after the final whistle.
In addition, to show how much the title meant to him, Mourinho later had a tattoo drawn on his arm showing the European trophies he had won in his career.
Despite the rumours linking him with a move away from Roma (mostly to Newcastle or PSG) ahead of the 2022/23 season, Mourinho stated bluntly that his objective was to fulfil his 3-year contract with Roma.
For the upcoming season, Paulo Dybala, Nemanja Matic, Zeki Çelik and Mile Svilar have been signed.
Matic boasts of high level experienced and had previously worked with Mourinho at Chelsea and Man Utd, while Celik was signed from Lille to improve the defence.
Svilar is the youngest goalkeeper to ever play for Benfica. He broke Iker Casillas’s record as the youngest goalkeeper to ever play in the UEFA Champions League against Manchester United in October 2017 — aged 18 years and 52 days.
In the return leg against the English side — aged 18 years and 65 days — Svilar also became the youngest goalkeeper ever to save a penalty in a Champions League match.
Furthermore, Justin Kluivert is back after his successful loan spell at Nice last season.
The biggest arrival was Dybala who spurned interest from Champions League clubs Inter Milan and Napoli to join Roma on a free transfer.
“The coach was very clear with his ideas — which was one of the biggest reasons for my choice,”. “Everyone knows what he represents in soccer. His calls got me excited. I’ve had the privilege to play with the greatest (players) and now I can work with one of the best coaches in soccer history.”Paulo Dybala after joining AS Roma
The arrival of Dybala — who was named Serie A’s MVP two seasons ago — has Roma fans dreaming of more trophies.
Mourinho’s domestic league successes earlier in his career at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid has got the Giallorossi fans hoping of seeing their team mount a serious challenge for the Serie A title in 2022/23.
In addition to the signing made already, Roma are close to sealing deals for ex-Liverpool midfielder Georgino Wijnaldum from PSG, as well as former Torino striker Andrea Belotti — who is a free agent.
Signing both players — who boasts of top level experience — will further reinforce the squad.
So far, AS Roma are doing well in their pre-season preparations with 3 wins (against Sunderland, Portimonense and Tottenham), a draw (vs Nice) and a defeat (to Sporting CP).
Moreso, Mourinho’s team are known to always excel in his second season; should this Roma team gel together quickly, fans should expect a thrilling, entertaining and successful season.
AS Roma are one of the teams to watch out for in 2022/23 season.
In the city of Rome, there is currently high optimism about what the I Giallorossi can achieve.
The Roman Empire is rising again………… thanks to the “Special One”.