AS Roma: Into the Light – Sport

Him or nothing. Those are the categories. “Mou” or morte.

If you take the absolutely metaphysical relationship of probably about two million Romanists If you want to understand José Mourinho, it makes sense to listen to local radio in Rome for a few hours. For example the station “Radio Radio”, 104.5 FM, it’s in every taxi, in the bars, guaranteed in many offices too, they almost only talk about football there. And actually only from AS Roma, the “Maggica”, the magical one. And from “Mou”, her trainer. Okay, sometimes they talk about Lazio Rome too, but that’s a minority program in the city.

If you like, call the studio. Everyone wants that. “Salve, so Lorenzo.” – “Hello, I’m Francesco from Latina.” And they present their homemade opinions to the people with the gravitas of state addresses. It’s wonderfully grotesque and insanely serious. If you had to squeeze the essence out of this flow of banalities and small flashes of inspiration, just one out of thousands of hours of “calcio parlato”, spoken football, then this is it: José Mourinho, 60 years old, from Setúbal in Portugal, has Rome and his Roma shot into another dimension in two years. Where she has never been: in the orbit of European celebrities. Victory in the Conference League 2022, finalist in the Europa League 2023 this Wednesday (9 p.m., RTL).

he alone How? It doesn’t matter!

In Leverkusen they may still be annoyed at how defensively the great coach played in the second leg of the semi-finals to save the 1-0 from the first leg over the rounds, how bulwark, how destructive, how time wasting: a shot missed goal and nothing else. But in Rome he was celebrated for exactly that, for what was said to be the masterful deconstruction of the opponent’s attack, for the wonderful game without a game and almost without the ball, for this treatise on defense science. Aesthetics is considered subordinate here, in case of doubt even as mannered. The cynical motto from Niccolò Machiavelli’s “Principe” sounds from afar: “The end justifies the means.” Always. And the goal was to free Rome from their footballing provinciality – no matter how.

For that, if only for that, Mourinho is already a shining light in the history of this club. “Everyone tried to carry the Roma beyond the Ringstrasse,” he writes Sports Courier, the city’s sports paper. So beyond the Grande Raccordo Anulare, which encircles Rome in a 68-kilometer-long loop road and strangles it a bit. “Mourinho did it.” Out of the province into the light.

But now there is a threat that he will actually leave the club again this summer, a year before the end of his contract, in any case Mourinho keeps mentioning the probability ominously. Maybe to Paris, to PSG, to the Qatari court. His agent has already talked to them, it’s rumored in town. The Roma’s Texas owners, the Friedkins, father Dan and son Ryan, a dynasty of auto importers and film producers, remain silent, as they have been since the beginning of their reigns. And so the already well-developed glorification of José Mourinho increases to deification. Giancarlo Dotto, a famous explainer of Romanismo, writes: “We’re already crying for him, even though he’s still here.”

“There noi?” To us? The name seemed too big for Rome

When “Mou” moved to Rome two summers ago, the Romans asked incredulously: “Da noi?” To us? The name seemed far too big for the club. It was easy to forget that Mourinho had just been sacked for the third time in a row: Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur. He was considered outdated, his football antiquated: his career was definitely over in the Premier League. Even his egomaniacal show had worn off, all his tricks and provocations had become boring tics. So Roma was as much an opportunity for Mourinho as Mourinho was an opportunity for them Giallorossi was, the yellow-red ones. A win-win situation. The margin for more success was huge, the stage was as big as possible, and the audience was thankful in advance. Didn’t he win everything?

The final against FC Sevilla in Budapest – or ‘Moudapest’ as they now call it in Rome – is Mourinho’s sixth European final overall, having won all five of the previous ones. Depending on the situation, it will be a nice or not so nice farewell gift to the Romanisti, with or without qualification for the next Champions League. Or a happy intermediate high before the possibly next one. Contrary to all speculation, Mourinho might tickle the ambition to lead the Roma to the Italian championship again after more than two decades Scudetto. The triumph over the long distance – that would be something, it would be really big.

The chief seducer failed so clearly in the second year that it took all his sly storytelling and communication skills to cover up the flop. In the first year, Roma finished sixth, in the second year there is not much more to do with one game day before the end of the season. Mourinho thinks it’s completely logical. A few days ago he said that, unlike sporting director Tiago Pinto, he never said his team would make it into the top four: “I don’t sell smoke.” Pinto only spent seven million euros on transfers, so it’s no wonder. The successes in Europe? Heroically fought against all odds, against the stinginess of the club, against the evil referees.

If Mourinho wants to distract from the game, he cries when crying is appropriate

This is how Mourinho communicates. When you hear him talk, you get the impression he’s in charge of a squad of district league footballers. The team is full of Italian national players and well-known foreigners who came to Rome because of him or stayed and are paid quite handsomely by the quiet Texans: Georginio “Gini” Wijnaldum, Nemanja Matic, Chris Smalling, Rui Patricio and Paulo Dybala. In Serie A, only Juventus Turin and Inter Milan have higher staff costs than AS Roma.

In difficult phases, however, Mourinho likes to send young players into battles that have already been lost, so that he can then say: Look, I had to send the “Bambini” back onto the field, my working conditions are poor. He has negotiated an annual salary of seven million euros for himself, net. But of course Mourinho is worth every euro. If the Stadio Olimpico has been sold out for more than 30 games, it’s because of him, because of his charisma and because of this unity between coach and supporter. A similar symbiosis cannot be remembered in Rome. A miracle, too.

The city has the true reputation of being a “piazza difficile” when it comes to football, a difficult place: South American, passionate, impatient and always over the top. The local radios cheer on the ambience. Ever since social media came along, it’s gotten even crazier. You have to be able to endure that. Mourinho can do it without any problems, even more: he loves it, he needs it, he says of himself that he has become more emotional with age. He plays with the piazza, triggers conspiracy theories when he wants to distract from the game, and sometimes cries when crying fits. Mourinho sets the tone, the agenda, the mood of the city. He has the language for it. His Italian is not perfect, although he has worked for Inter in Milan for a number of years. But the points that sit. His press conferences are the real spectacle of every game night. “Radio Radio” then turns on a man who analyzes everything and she president to name. Where he gets his title from remains a mystery even after many broadcasts. The president is the chief exegete of Mourinhonism, it’s a kind of populism.

The Romans have always had a weakness for seducers and condottieri. For popes, kings, emperors, even for a particularly small-minded dictator with a square chin. For absolute rulers who draw all the light to themselves. Now they have José Mourinho, and they would like to have him forever. The Sports Courier recently headlined his entire first page in bold letters: “Mou per semper.” Forever Mou.


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