Why Roma SACKED Jose Mourinho: His constant media guerrilla warfare upset their American owners, fans were fed up after FIVE red cards, he cost £3m per point and was sick of taking the blame
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Why Roma SACKED Jose Mourinho: His constant media guerrilla warfare upset their American owners, fans were fed up after FIVE red cards, he cost £3m per point and was sick of taking the blame

Feb 15, 2024

Roma confirmed the sacking of manager Jose Mourinho on Tuesday morning, bringing an end to his two-and-a-half year reign in the Italian capital.

The former Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham boss won the fans over in his first season by winning the Europa Conference League, and led his side to the final of the Europa League last term, before they lost to Sevilla on penalties.

But Roma have fallen away badly in 2023-24 and currently sit ninth in Serie A, forcing the board to step in and relieve Mourinho of his duties. He leaves with a record of 60 wins, 30 draws and 40 losses from his 138 games in charge.

He took an average of 1.7 points per game across his tenure, dropping to 1.45 this season, and according to a report by Calcio&Finanza, every point earned by Roma cost the club €3.5m (£3m) when taking into account the salaries of the players and coaches as well as the length of their contracts.

Roma’s total of 29 points from their 20 games this term is their worst return since 2002-03 under Fabio Capello. 

Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Roma after two-and-a-half years at the club

Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Roma after two-and-a-half years at the club

He drove away from the training ground after his sacking was confirmed on Tuesday

He drove away from the training ground after his sacking was confirmed on Tuesday

Mourinho leaves with a record of 60 wins from his 138 games in charge at Roma

Mourinho leaves with a record of 60 wins from his 138 games in charge at Roma

So… where has it all gone wrong?

The warning signs were there right from the start of the season when Roma won just one of their first six league games.

Their only victory of this period was a 7-0 thrashing of Empoli, but Mourinho still wasn’t happy after this game as he ranted about his team’s quick turnaround after European matches.

‘We are also a bit unlucky: Atalanta, for example, will play on Thursday and then Monday, but we always play on Thursday and Sunday. Maybe there is someone in the league who doesn’t like me,’ he told reporters.

It appeared the 60-year-old was looking for excuses for his team’s below-par performances, having grown sick of taking the blame for Roma’s shortcomings, but that comprehensive victory should have kickstarted their campaign.

It didn’t. They were held to a 1-1 draw by Torino in their next game and then lost 4-1 at Genoa. 

Once again, Mourinho blamed the schedule, injuries and lack of transfer activity at the club rather than taking personal responsibility, while also reminding fans and pundits of his achievements over the past two seasons.

‘It’s the worst start of my career… but Roma played in two consecutive European finals,’ he said.

‘Genoa played 48 hours before us. In yesterday’s matches five players had muscle injuries, tonight three. How can we get out of this? By staying united. There is no market, no one comes.’

Roma have endured a miserable campaign, and Mourinho has publicly criticised his players on multiple occasions

Roma have endured a miserable campaign, and Mourinho has publicly criticised his players on multiple occasions

Mourinho complained about Roma's transfer activity despite the club bringing in Paulo Dybala (left) and Romelu Lukaku (right)

Mourinho complained about Roma’s transfer activity despite the club bringing in Paulo Dybala (left) and Romelu Lukaku (right)

His complaints about transfers were difficult to accept given he had brought in Paulo Dybala, Romelu Lukaku, Renato Sanches, Leonardo Spinazzola, Houssem Aouar, Sardar Azmoun and Chris Smalling – all players with a history of fitness issues. 

His unhappiness with Roma’s transfer business upset American owners, the Friedkin family, who had made it clear that a prudent approach had to be taken in the market due to the club’s financial limitations. 

His constant media guerilla warfare began to test the patience of the board, and his touchline behaviour was becoming a real issue.

After being sent off three times last season, he was shown a red card during his side’s 1-0 win over Monza in October for mocking the opposition bench after Stephan El Shaarawy’s late winner.

Mourinho made ‘cry-baby’ gestures towards the Monza dugout, before later explaining that it was a response to them saying ‘nasty words about us’ last season.

That was no use to Roma, though, as he then served a suspension for their clash with leaders Inter Milan, watching them lose 1-0 to the Nerazzurri from the stands.

And his touchline ban did not lead to a change in his attitude towards referees as he launched an astonishing attack on Fabio Maresca after the Inter loss and suggested there was an agenda against his players.

Mourinho was sent off for making 'cry-baby' gestures towards the Monza bench in October

Mourinho was sent off for making ‘cry-baby’ gestures towards the Monza bench in October

Mourinho's behaviour has been an issue all season as he has been sent off five times

Mourinho’s behaviour has been an issue all season as he has been sent off five times

Roma fans became fed up with their manager being sent off on a regular basis

Roma fans became fed up with their manager being sent off on a regular basis

‘He gave yellows to players who seemed “chosen”, the two central defenders , Ndicka and Mancini, and the two central midfielders, Paredes and Cristante. There is no respect for my players,’ Mourinho insisted.

He may have felt his players were harshly treated at the San Siro, but Mourinho had no sympathy when they were beaten by Slavia Prague in the Europa League 11 days later.

Mourinho sensationally claimed his team lacked professionalism, and stated that only youngster Edoardo Bove had played well.

‘I didn’t like anything. Very few players have had the professional attitude that I demand. Only Bove did well, but with one out of 11 the games cannot be won. A very fair defeat,’ he said.

It would not be the last time he publicly criticised his squad. 

Following a 3-1 win against Udinese in late November, Mourinho suggested that some of his players, specifically ex-Manchester United defender Chris Smalling, were not doing enough to make themselves available for matches, once more questioning the attitude of the team.

‘There are others who are more capable of withstanding the pain. He (Smalling) stands back a little,’ Mourinho explained.

Mourinho was frustrated that more players, including Chris Smalling, were unwilling to play through pain for him

Mourinho was frustrated that more players, including Chris Smalling, were unwilling to play through pain for him

‘Look at Mancini: today he had a physical problem and played under painkillers. He is one of those who would also play on one leg.’

Four days later, Mourinho’s mood had not improved. After being held to a 1-1 draw by Swiss side Servette in the Europa League, he accused his side of being ‘superficial’ and hit out at his fringe players for failing to step up and convince him that they deserved more minutes on the pitch.

‘There are people who play in a superficial way, even without having great experience in Europe. Then there are the usual ones who are always there for 90 minutes, I don’t need to name names,’ Mourinho said.

‘If someone knocks on my office door and tells me that he wants to play more, I will give him playing time when the others are dead. Because the people who respond are always the same.’

His outbursts were almost coming on a daily basis at this stage, and he got himself in hot water again before his side’s league clash with Sassuolo by claiming in his pre-match press conference that referee Matteo Marcenaro ‘doesn’t have the emotional stability to work at this level’.

Mourinho needed a strong end to 2023 to ease some of the pressure but didn’t get it as Roma lost consecutive away games at Bologna and Juventus.

They began 2024 with a Coppa Italia win against Cremonese, but that was as good as it got for Mourinho as he was then sent off in successive games against Atalanta and Lazio.

The Lazio red card was his fifth of the season and came after another insipid performance as Roma exited the Coppa Italia following a 1-0 defeat to their fiercest rivals.

Once more, Mourinho was critical of the officials for awarding Lazio a penalty in the second half, and refused to address his team’s lack of threat in the final third.

Having been adored by the Roma fanbase for much of his time at the helm, supporters had become fed up with losing their manager during games as he struggled to contain his emotions. 

Mourinho was sent off for complaining to the referee in Roma's game against Atalanta earlier this month

Mourinho was sent off for complaining to the referee in Roma’s game against Atalanta earlier this month

Mourinho was furious at the penalty awarded to Lazio in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, and blamed the officiating for his team's exit from the competition

Mourinho was furious at the penalty awarded to Lazio in the Coppa Italia quarter-final, and blamed the officiating for his team’s exit from the competition

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His final game came on Sunday when he served another touchline ban and his side were beaten 3-1 by AC Milan.

Having taken just four points from their last five games, the writing was on the wall for Mourinho at Roma, and following a meeting with president Dan Friedkin on Monday night he was shown the exit door.

Tuesday morning’s training session was delayed as it became clear Mourinho would not be taking it, and now Roma must look for a new head coach. 

Mourinho ended Roma’s long wait for silverware, ensuring his time at the club was far from a complete failure.

But that familiar third-season syndrome proved to be his downfall once again, and left Roma with no option but to act as they look to save their season. 

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