Rome: A scooter-riding, problem-fixing, smiling and joking Jose Mourinho. Some things have changed and some things remain very much the same.
At his first news conference as Roma coach on Thursday, Mourinho’s steely determination and prickly nature resurfaced when questioned about his apparent slide away from the coaching elite.
“My last three clubs: League title with Chelsea, three cups with (Manchester) United, a final with Tottenham,” he said. “What others see as a disaster for me, someone else has never done in their life. But that’s how it is, it’s my fault.”
Mourinho was hired in May on a three-year contract. While the Portuguese coach didn’t think he needed to revive his career, it was dressing-room apathy and growing disillusionment at his tactics yet again that cost him his job at Tottenham in April after 17 months at the London club.
Mourinho memorably led Inter Milan to a treble of titles little more than a decade ago during his only previous job in Italy. He also enjoyed success at Porto and Real Madrid as well as Chelsea and United.
But he was fired from United in 2018, a year before being hired by Tottenham.
“I am a victim of what I have done, a victim of the way people look at me,” Mourinho said. “Look, for example, at Manchester United. I won three trophies and it was a disaster. At Tottenham I took them to a cup final - which they didn’t let me play - and it was a disaster. What for me is a disaster, for others is something fantastic.”
For much of the news conference, however, the 58-year-old Mourinho was more relaxed. Much like he has been since his much-celebrated arrival in Rome last week.
He has been sharing videos on social media of his first week back in Italy, including of his arrival at Roma’s training ground on an iconic Vespa scooter.
On Thursday, he was happy to joke with reporters gathered on a terrace in the city. The conference took place in a makeshift structure and, about 10 minutes in, the wind caused the plastic sheeting to flap around, creating a loud and consistent noise.
It was Mourinho who quickly got up and tore down the plastic panels. He’ll be hoping to fix Roma that easily.
No trophy since 2008
Roma finished seventh in Serie A last season, 29 points behind champion Inter. The team has not won a single trophy since 2008 when it lifted the Italian Cup.
“There is something that we can’t escape from,” Mourinho said. “We haven’t won for a long time and we finished 29 points from the top and 16 points behind fourth spot. We can’t escape from that reality. But, before anything, we want to understand why, understand how we can improve to get to where we want to get to. Obviously we’re talking about time. Time is a word that we all share, it was a key word when I met the owners for the first time.”
Mourinho stressed the need for time to build a winning team and long-lasting success. Whether he will be given that time remains to be seen.
But he was succinct in his response as to where he saw himself in three years, at the end of his Roma contract.
“Celebrating ... something,” he said with a wry smile.