How Jose Mourinho reignited his magic at Roma

Remember when Jose Mourinho was the most charismatic manager in football? The “Special One” who led underdog teams to glory everywhere he went, including Champions League triumphs at Porto and Inter Milan and two Premier League titles and five domestic cups during his first spell at Chelsea. Well, in recent years, something has changed. The magic disappeared. 

As his spells at Chelsea and Manchester United unravelled, people started to whisper that perhaps his best days were behind him. Mourinho’s confidence gave way to surly paranoia. The master tactician was now labelled a dinosaur, unable to adapt to modern football.

But in 2021, Roma came calling. And the Italian club, desperate to recapture the magic of their early 2000s golden era, proved the perfect stage for Mourinho’s redemption. In just one season, the iconic Portuguese coach revived his aura in Rome. So how exactly did Mourinho reignite his magic? Let’s break it down.

Mourinho’s fall from grace

First, we must understand Mourinho’s dramatic fall from grace. His managerial career exploded onto the scene in 2004 when he led unfancied Porto to a miraculous Champions League title. It remains the last time a club outside the so-called “Big Four” European leagues of Spain, England, Italy and Germany has lifted the trophy. This set the stage for a trophy-laden first spell at Chelsea between 2004-2007, where he became a global superstar. 

At his peak, Mourinho won 6 major honours in 3 seasons at Chelsea, including two Premier League titles and an FA Cup, while being named FIFA World Coach of the Year. He pioneered a defensive counter-attacking style and his charm made him a media darling.

After winning league titles and another Champions League with Inter Milan, and getting the better of Pep Guardiola’s mythical Barcelona team to land the La Liga title with Real Madrid, Mourinho hoped his 2013 Chelsea homecoming would relight the old magic.

At first normal service was resumed with Mourinho leading the Blues to the 2014/15 Premier League title. But a disastrous start to 2015/16 saw Roman Abramovich wield the axe with Chelsea sitting 16th. Things barely improved at Manchester United either, as dreary tactics and high-profile player feuds like Paul Pogba’s defined an underwhelming 2.5-year spell.

By the end, the Special One had lost his aura. The Portuguese coach was now a target for constant criticism from an English press pack that had previously adored him. With Mourinho’s managerial mojo faded, what better time for you to try capturing some magic of your own? Head over to and back yourself on the next Premier League fixtures. With thrilling odds and big jackpots, you could rediscover your own winning magic today!

By the end, ridiculed and dismissed as a stubborn has-been, Mourinho left Old Trafford a shadow of his former self. Could this polarizing figure once hailed a genius ever regain his mojo?

Roma’s ambitious project

As Mourinho’s star faded, Roma were experiencing their own crisis. Despite boasting one of Italy’s most passionate fanbases, the Giallorossi had not won Serie A since 2001 or any trophy since 2008. After years of mismanagement, they had declined from title contenders to Europa League regulars.

But Roma’s fans remembered better days in the 2000s winning 5 trophies. Led by club legend Francesco Totti and coach Luciano Spalletti, Roma were the last team other than Juventus to lift the Scudetto. After American billionaire Dan Friedkin bought the club in 2020, he promised to bankroll Roma’s return to the top.

Friedkin appointed Portuguese general manager Tiago Pinto and backed him to overhaul the playing squad. When manager Paulo Fonseca failed to secure Champions League qualification, Roma knew they needed a bold replacement to spearhead their project.

Against the odds, they coaxed Mourinho back to Serie A 18 years after leaving Inter. This raised eyebrows - was he really the right man to spark a Roma renaissance?

Implementing his methods

Mourinho immediately revitalised a deflated club upon arrival in July 2021. He conducted a brutal but honest squad assessment, moving on aging veterans and freezing out 23 players during his first transfer window. Mourinho recruited warriors like Rui Patrício and Matias Viña, demanding work ethic above all.

The Portuguese introduced a rigorous preseason training regime focused on organisation and positional discipline. He drilled the team in his structured 4-2-3-1 defensive shape before transitioning into a devastating counter-attack. If Roma lost the ball upfield, they would quickly form two tight banks of four to deny space before breaking forward again.

Mourinho displayed tactical flexibility during matches, fluidly adapting Roma’s shape between a 4-2-3-1, 3-4-2-1 and 5-3-2 to counter opponents’ strengths. The coach crafted detailed game plans targeting the weaknesses of Serie A’s elite like Juve’s vulnerable left flank.

Key was transitioning quickly from a defensive low block into attack. Mourinho tailored motivational techniques to each player, cajoling, inspiring and challenging them to hit new heights.

The Special One’s impact

This meticulous coaching coupled with shrewd summer business produced remarkable results in Mourinho’s maiden campaign. Roma finished 6th with a club record 63 points, winning 18 games compared to 17 the previous season. They scored 18 more goals than the previous term.

Roma conceded just 40 goals, down from 58 the previous season as Mourinho tightened their defence. He transformed players like Bryan Cristante from liabilities into one of Serie A’s best midfielders. Veterans like Henrikh Mkhitaryan found new life under the Portuguese coach’s guidance.

Mourinho engineered famous victories home and away over all of Italy’s top clubs, taking 4 points each from Milan, Inter, Juventus, Atalanta and Lazio. His man management coaxed the best from unfashionable players. Above all, Mourinho restored long-absent passion and unity to the Roma dressing room.

His charisma motivated fans to dream of trophies again. By embracing Roma’s history and channelling the Olympic Stadium’s fervour, he gave a fading club its identity back.

The cherry on top of the cake was Roma winning the Europa Conference League. It was the club’s first piece of silverware since the 2007/08 Italian Cup, and a first European title for an Italian side since Inter won the Champions League in 2010… under Mourinho.

Jose’s journey continues

Mourinho wasted no time building on his successful first season in the eternal city. Roma backed the manager heavily in the summer 2022 transfer window, spending over €100 million on new signings.

Big money arrivals like Paulo Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum signalled Roma’s intent to challenge for the Scudetto. Mourinho added maturity and experience to a young hungry core. With a squad boasting greater depth and quality, the Special One could implement more tactical versatility.

Roma were close to another memorable season, missing out on Champions League qualification by a whisker both through the league, where poor end-of-season results saw Roma drop out of the top four, and in the Europa League, when the Italian side lost a controversial final to Sevilla.

Key takeaways

The Special One's Roma revival proves several valuable lessons:

  • Mourinho’s magic was not lost; he just lacked the right club fit - His strengths aligned perfectly with Roma’s needs.
  • An ambitious project with an underdog mentality brought out Mourinho’s best - He thrives when fighting against the odds.
  • Tactical flexibility and motivational man management were key - He tailored approaches to both players and matches.

Roma rejuvenated Mourinho as much as he did them. This club offered him a path to redemption that super clubs like Manchester United could not. The result? The Special One has his mojo back.

In conclusion

Mourinho and Roma’s inspirational journey continues. After securing the club’s first European trophy in 61 years in his first season, and almost adding a second the very next year, Roma have invested heavily in the past two summers, demonstrating their belief in Mourinho’s project.

With renewed passion and tactical sophistication, can the Portuguese maestro now lead Roma to overtake Italy’s elite? Only time will tell. But one thing is sure. By embracing his authentic self once more, Mourinho has reignited his magic. And Serie A is all the more special for his dramatic return.