The Roma Project: Can Mourinho Reignite his Managerial Career by Winning the UECL?

Liam Bewsher

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The Roma Project: Can Mourinho Reignite his Managerial Career by Winning the UECL?

On Wednesday night, AS Roma and Feyenoord go head to head at Arena Kombetare in Tirana, Albania, with legendary manager Jose Mourinho looking to claim his first trophy as manager of the Serie A club, whilst completing the European set having most recently won the Europa League whilst in charge of Manchester United in 2017.

Roma are regarded as a big club not just in Italy, but across the world, having had a number of high profile players on their books in years gone by, such as Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Carlo Ancelotti, Rudi Voller and more.

But, what will always be said about the Stadio Olimpico based club, is that their trophy cabinet isn’t as full as it should be, having won just three Serie A titles, most recently in 2001, as well as nine Coppa Italia’s, two Supercoppa Italiana’s domestically, whilst their two European honours are the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1961 and the Anglo-Italian Cup of 1970.

This may sound a decent haul on paper, but, their last trophy came some 14 years ago, whilst their last league title, as previously mentioned was all the way back in 2001 and they have failed to win a European trophy in the last 52 years despite always competing to a reasonable level in Europe since then.

Europa Conference League Final Tips



Roma vs Feyenoord: Mourinho’s Chance to Rebuild his Reputation

Mourinho will be desperate to brush off the criticism that he has often received as a manager since the start of the 2018/19 season when his managerial career somewhat imploded, having been sacked as United manager in December 2018 after an appalling display in a 3-1 defeat at Anfield.

The 2017 Europa League final win he managed over Ajax with the Old Trafford club remains both his and Manchester United’s last trophy to date, something which both parties would have scarcely believed if they were told that would be the case on that day at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, as they looked like a match made in heaven at that moment in time.

Since then, he managed a second-place finish in the Premier League, and was an FA Cup final runner-up with United against Chelsea later on in the 2017/18 campaign. He has failed to finish in the top four of a league since then too following an unsuccessful spell at Tottenham Hotspur between November 2019 and April 2021.

None of this seemingly adds up, what has happened to one of the most decorated managers in the history of the game? After all, Mourinho has won 25 trophies since taking charge of Porto partway through the 2002/03 season.

On Wednesday, he could add another to his tally and potentially one that sees him climb the ladder back to the top.

Roma come into this final as favourites against Feyenoord on Wednesday, having brushed off the likes of Bodo/Glimt, Zorya Luhansk and CSKA Sofia, on top of Vitesse and Leicester City on their road to Tirana. But, Feyenoord did pull off a shock 3-2 aggregate win over Marseille in the semi-finals and have progressed past the likes of Union Berlin, Slavia Prague, Maccabi Haifa, and Partizan Belgrade along the way.

Mourinho, however, is one of those managers that usually gets it right on the big occasion and will be keen to add to his Champions League wins with Porto and Inter Milan in 2004 and 2010, on top of his UEFA Cup and Europa League wins in 2003 with the former and 2017 with United.

Europa Conference League Final Tips



Roma’s Season so far

The term ‘Rome wasn’t Built in a day’ comes to mind, as Roma looks like a work in progress, having finished sixth in Serie A, one point behind Lazio, as well as seven points behind Juventus, culminating in a sixth-place finish.

Mourinho has focussed on regenerating his side, replacing the likes of Edin Dzeko with Tammy Abraham, who has shined at the Stadio Olimpico, scoring 27 and creating five assists this season, whilst also bringing in some young talents in Roger Ibanez and Matias Vina, on top of experienced goalkeeper Rui Patricio from Wolves.

There has been a mass clear out of players in general, as the likes of Cengiz Under, Pau Lopez, Justin Kluivert, Alessandro Florenzi and Borja Mayoral were all shifted from the wage books on loan deals, with many of them having the option to leave the club on a permanent basis.

In the Coppa Italia, Roma were given an unfavourable tie away at Inter Milan in the quarter-finals, of which they were beaten 2-0 after previously advancing 2-0 against Lecce in the Round of 16, but, on they did beat eventual Turkish champions Trabzonspor 5-1 on aggregate to qualify for the Europa Conference League back in August following their disappointing seventh-place league finish in 2020/21.

Europa Conference League Final Tips



What is ‘The Roma Project’?

Ultimately, the Roma project is Mourinho’s plan to bring Roma back to the top of Italian football for the first time since 2001 when they famously won the Serie A title ahead of Juventus as they beat Parma 3-1 on the last day of the season under Fabio Capello.

However, when looking at the might of Inter’s and AC Milan’s current squads, Roma still lies a fair bit off due to there being many players in the process of trying to fulfil their potential under Mourinho, whilst many in the squad simply aren’t at the required level to compete.

Roma will likely be aiming to compete for a top-four finish next season, or even win the Europa League to gain qualification for the Champions League, which is ultimately the next step in drawing the interest of top players to move to the Stadio Olimpico.

But, it does look likely at present that Mourinho still has the pulling power required to attract high-quality players to the clubs he works for, as rumours suggest that Paulo Dybala could be on the verge of a free transfer to Roma, whilst the Portuguese coach is reportedly looking at bringing free agent Nemanja Matic in, following the Serbian’s decision not to extend his contract at Old Trafford.

With defensive-minded football not having such a stigma around it as it does in England, Mourinho will likely have a good chance of succeeding at Roma, but firstly, that must start with a Europa Conference League win against Feyenoord, as it would lay down the foundations and give some of the younger players in his squad the hunger to achieve more in the future.

Europa Conference League Final Tips



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