LEICESTER – «He’s a hammer“. It’s a hammer. British reporters at King Power Stadium describe José this way Mourinho, after having (re) seen him play the game with his irrepressible leaps on the bench. The motivational method, which focuses first on the head and then on the schemes, begins to deliver results in Rome, now solid and concrete. Gary noticed too Lineker, English football legend and Leicester fan, who used British irony to describe the unexpected difficulties encountered by Brendan Rodgers in the Conference semifinal. “That coat that looks like a silver fox-he tweeted commenting on Mou’s look-was a strategy to disorient us Foxes. It’s working”.
Here: with the declared principle of “stability”, which protects better than any coat, Mourinho has transmitted an identity to the team that can almost ignore the results of the next three weeks: Roma will be able to win the Conference League and finish fifth in the league or lose everything, even a place in Europe. The important thing will be the summer strengthening plan, if anything. “But as we are working, progress is evident – clarified the coach – I’m happy anyway for what we have become. Five months ago in Leicester we would have lost, but now we are here to accept a result that perhaps could have been more favorable“.
It took less than an hour to enter the hearts of the Romanists, who naturally elected him as the head of the people, it took less than a year to create a Rome in his image and likeness. It was May 4 when the Friedkins, with a semifinal still to be played, unexpectedly announced their engagement. Many at the time suspected that Mourinho had settled for the first available offer after Tottenham’s painful dismissal. And that he aimed to secure a passionate but not too ambitious career ending in a nice place to live. Perhaps, despite his resume, he had been underestimated. And he understood himself definitively on January 9, the evening of the incredible defeat against Juventus, when he said bluntly: «I didn’t think it was that difficult to convey my mindset. Here there are people used to the comfort zone of a fifth-sixth place. But it must be the players who rise to my level, not me who descends to theirs“.
No sooner said than done. There began the series of 13 days of the championship without defeat, interrupted last Saturday by Inter, which is also the only Italian team to have beaten Roma in the period examined, including the Italian Cup. The other knockout, remembered for the brawl in the locker room rather than the result, was the irrelevant one in Bodø, canceled by the Olimpico 4-0. Something has certainly changed in the collective spirit, to which Mourinho has added some decisive ingredient: the launch of Zalewskiwhich not even the protagonist imagined, the definitive turn on the three (or five) defense that the coach adopted to reassure the team, the construction of a block of praetorians ready to sacrifice themselves for “José, the italian uncle“. The Italian uncle as Abraham would say.
Now Roma, which in the last 28 European matches at the Olimpico have lost only once against real Madrid, is called to the last step: to win the final in the backyard to deserve the real final, in Tirana. It is an enviable starting condition, to which Mourinho has given the right weight: for one who has won four out of four, of European finals, no result is written until it ends up in the almanacs.
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