AS Roma legend Francesco Totti has defended Giallorossi coach Jose Mourinho and the conservative approach of the Portuguese, pointing out that his former Lupi mentor Zdenek Zeman was similarly criticised for his cavalier approach.
The 46-year-old, who now works as a football agent, still works closely with his boyhood club and he has been satisfied with Mourinho’s work in the Eternal City so far.
However, there has been the usual lament about the style of play at Roma under Mourinho, and Totti was quick to point out the results achieved under the experienced Portuguese coach.
Totti praises Mourinho’s man-management of AS Roma
From 1993 until 2019, Totti played under several coaches who each had their own approach to the game. One of those is current Pescara coach Zdenek Zeman, who coached AS Roma from 1997 until 1999 and again in 2012/23, and was renowned for his ultra-offensive philosophy.
However, the former Roma and Italy forward addressed the inconsistencies in arguments from people who criticise the way the Giallorossi have played, and praised Mourinho for encouraging the squad to embrace his ideas.
“When Zeman was here, they told us we went too far forward,” Totti told Sky Sport Italia. “The important thing is the results: whether you play badly or well is secondary. Now every game is [like] a final. Mourinho knows how to manage the group well, and they can do good things.
“He opens a door, the other doors must be opened by the players who must understand what the coach wants. That way there is more simplicity. He is in the quarter-finals in the Europa League, he can get into the Champions League spots. Hopefully, he can get [Roma] as far as possible.”
Totti’s Mateo Retegui regrets
Totti had seen footage of new Italy striker Mateo Retegui around 2020 when the now 23-year-old was emerging in his native Argentina. Back then, he was lacking in experience, but impressed the AS Roma legend in other aspects of his game.
Totti did not take Retegui on as a client, but Azzurri coach Roberto Mancini is now benefitting from the Argentine’s recent naturalisation.
“Mancini has made me pay on the pitch,” Totti said. “I saw him [Retegui] on some videos when he played in Argentina. We are talking about three years ago when he was still young and inexperienced. He impressed me on the physical side and his will.
“Unfortunately, I don’t have him now. He has a good future, coach Mancini will handle him well.”