Ahead of Lazio vs Roma, The Laziali’s Jerry Mancini spoke to Steven Sciavillo of Chiesa di Totti to get his thoughts on the Giallorossi’s business this past summer, the departure of Paulo Fonseca and consequential appointment of Jose Mourinho, and his expectations of the team.
It was a difficult season for Roma under Paulo Fonseca last year. What were your thoughts on his time with the club? Were you surprised that he departed?
I’ll start by saying that I was not at all surprised that Fonseca and the club parted ways after two seasons. With new ownership and front office in place, Fonseca was always a lame-duck manager, so it would’ve likely taken at minimum a top-four finish to get ownership to even consider keeping him around. And we know the results on the pitch were far from good enough to even stay in the top four mix past March.
In the end, his time at the club ended up being a disappointment after Roma failed to qualify for the Champions League in both seasons. Not all of it is his fault, as the roster wasn’t good enough considering all the deadweight leftover from the Eusebio Di Francesco/Monchi days. Injuries to key men like Nicolo Zaniolo and Chris Smalling also didn’t help his cause. That being said, there were plenty of times that his managerial decisions often came into question or he looked out of ideas when Roma needed a substitution or tactical change to change a match in its favor.
The results against the top sides were also unacceptable. I believe the derby win in last season’s penultimate match was the only one against the other top 6 sides in the league over the last two seasons. I find it crazy to think that a club like Roma couldn’t get a couple more wins against those sides when you consider even teams like Empoli and Spezia can manage it from time to time.
I thought the Fonseca hiring was a good hiring when it was made and I really wanted to work out. He’s a very likable and humble man so it was sad to see it end the way it did. But ultimately Roma had to move on.
Roma announced the signing of Jose Mourinho this past summer. This was a signing that many didn’t see coming. How did you feel at the time when this signing happened and did you like this move?
I was absolutely shocked. I found out when one of our listeners tweeted at me while I was at work and just couldn’t believe it. It was unthinkable that Roma would’ve been able to lure a name like Mourinho under Pallotta, but this speaks to the ambitions of the Friedkins. I was very excited when the move happened despite Mourinho’s less than stellar results at Tottenham. I mean we’re talking about one of the best managers of this generation coming to Roma. How could I not be thrilled?
What would be a successful 2021/22 season for Roma? What about the expectations for Jose Mourinho’s tenure overall?
I would say that a successful season would have Roma finishing in a stronger position than last season and remaining in the Champions League mix to the very end. Ideally I’d love to see them finish top four and return to Europe’s prestigious competition, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a failure if that isn’t achieved. The team is building a project, so it’s most important to see improvement each season.
For Mourinho’s tenure my expectation would be that Roma is able to begin challenging for a Scudetto again. It might be a bridge too far to guarantee a Scudetto because so many things that are out of a team’s and manager’s control can decide the race over a long season. But like when Luciano Spalletti was in charge, Roma was always in the Scudetto conversation.
And last but not least, what’s your prediction for Sunday?
I’m expecting goals on Sunday. Both teams have been scoring quite a lot and both defenses have had some issues. I predicted 3-2 Roma on various podcasts already, so I’ll have to stick with it.