It’s an Italian expression that fits José Mourinho perfectly. “Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio”. Literally: “The wolf loses his hair but not his vice”. While he will celebrate his 61st birthday next January, the Portuguese, never stingy with media outings since his debut on the bench, continues to make noise in Italy. As he always did, in fact, wherever he went.
If, sportingly, his team is doing rather well, with a fourth place in the standings and a record of six victories in the last eight matches, Mou was controversial last week. In his soul and conscience, obviously. Fine calculator, perfect manipulator, he started to draw Thursday evening, after the draw on the lawn of Servette Génève (1-1) in the Europa League.
“This evening (Thursday), some of my players had a very bad attitude,” he lamented. “Their game was stereotyped and they showed no motivation, even though many of them have no experience in the Cup. “Europe. It’s a shame, but those involved missed their chance. Even the newcomers didn’t contribute anything. There are also too many players who don’t seize the opportunities given to them. They are on the bench , but are absolutely not focused when we ask them to enter the field.”
The referee attacked for his “emotional stability”, Berardi for his “fair play”
In the viewfinder, among others, Houssem Aouar, whose character does not really seem to please his trainer. Openly criticizing his group, either to stimulate it or to clear himself, Mourinho has done it regularly since his arrival in Rome, where he remains untouchable. Fans love it, and only a minority dares to question the Giallorossi’s fundamentals. For many, he remains a leader, a guide, a pack leader. And the method works, since the Stadio Olimpico is almost always sold out. Last season, ticketing revenue increased by 23.7 million euros. In the Eternal City, there is no question of touching the “Mou”.
To reinforce this feeling of one against all, Mourinho no longer hesitates to take shots. Everywhere, all the time. Whatever the target. Last Saturday, he attacked the referee of the next day’s match against Sassuolo. “The feeling is that he doesn’t have the emotional stability to referee such a match,” said the Special One. “We had him as fourth referee three times. Same thing for the VAR referee, with who we have always been unlucky about.” First shot. The second was for Domenico Berardi, the captain of the opposing team.
“We are facing Berardi who, in my opinion, is a fantastic player, who I like, but who should show a little more respect to his opponents,” he explained. “What he is doing is too much, he is trying to get non-existent penalties and yellow cards at every opportunity. Like his opponents, I love him and I hate him. If he had been one of my players, we would have had problems.”
The next day, Roma won at the last minute (1-2), with a red card (logical) in their favor and a penalty (rather logical too). Berardi made an assist but didn’t really have the expected performance. Would the words of “Mou” have had an impact? What is certain is that they did not please many people in the Boot. Just like the action where his team did not return the ball to his opponent, who had then voluntarily put it into touch to treat one of his team who remained on the ground.
“He should not allow himself to speak badly about players from an opposing team. Especially since Roma is one of the teams that makes the most mistakes,” replied Alessandro Dionisi, the Sassuolo technician, after the match . A feeling shared last season by Raffaele Palladino, coach of Monza, who declared “never having seen a bench protest as much” as that of Roma. At the end of October, Mourinho had six expulsions since his return to Italy, for a total of twenty-four red cards including staff. “Mourinho should not have said that, regretted Giovanni Carnevali, managing director of Sassuolo. Managers and coaches should be examples, and above all never talk about players from another club.”
Some people should no longer be on a bench
Former Italian and international referee, Paolo Casarin, was even harsher. “When I see a great coach like him saying such things before a match, something is wrong,” he told ‘Radio Anch’io Sport’ on Radio Rai 1. “This freedom to criticize before a match without any justification should not be allowed. We can’t do that. A great coach should never do it. And then some benches look like provincial theater, Roma have already had four-five expulsions (in his staff). Some people should no longer be on a bench.”
Public outrage has spread widely in the media, and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) could also take sanctions against Mourinho. Corriere dello Sport expected two days on Wednesday, due to the recurrence. Roma, for its part, stands behind its coach, players and managers alike. To the point that a contract extension is now in the pipeline, while the current one expires at the end of the season.
To make matters worse, the Portuguese put a coin back into the machine on Sunday evening after the match at Sassuolo. This time, he presented himself in front of Italian journalists… speaking in his native language. Taken aback, they quickly had an explanation: “My Italian is not strong enough to express certain concepts. When I spoke on Saturday about emotional stability, I was talking about a quality present in everyday life. and necessary in football to be at a very high level.” The straw that broke the media camel’s back. Not Roman dailies, since IlMessaggero found this find “brilliant”.
“For me, it’s quite the opposite,” said Riccardo Trevisani, a famous Italian commentator, to the media Cronache dello Spogliatotio. “I find it very inelegant. You should talk to your supporters, to the journalists of the broadcasters who pay the rights another language (…) When a football personality allows himself to do certain things, it is because he knows that he can do it. In Italy, Mourinho does what he could not do in Spain. There, the media denounced his attitude during his time at Real Madrid.”
“No one is fooled anymore”
“He may be the gladiator of Roma, but a coach of this level, who has won everything, seems to me a prisoner of his label,” summarized Gazzetta dello Sport journalist Luca Calamai. “He wants to leave. But what he’s leaving if that’s what he’s become.” The caricature of the caricature no longer really works.
“It’s quite simply that no one is fooled anymore,” explains a colleague from another major Italian sports daily. “Everyone knows how he works, and it’s getting a little boring. He attacks everyone, everyone. time, even his group. He always needs an opponent, a bone to gnaw. I remember that he still called Rick Karsdorp, the new starter in his team, a “traitor”, forcing the club to put him under police protection since tifosi had come to his home. There are limits to everything.”
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