AS Roma was at his magical best ahead of the Giallorossi’s clash against AC Milan in Matchday 20 of Serie A, accusing critics of expecting him to conjure the tricks of Harry Potter at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Lupi have endured a difficult season and went into the midway point of the campaign in eighth place, whilst tensions are high after a frustrating Coppa Italia exit to bitter rivals Lazio.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the trip to the Stadio San Siro, and as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport, Mourinho lamented the high expectations on him, despite a limited budget at Roma.
“Some people think I am called Jose Harry Mourinho Potter, the level of expectation is very high. We are four points off fourth place, we are fighting for something that is almost impossible if we see the level of our rivals, but we will continue,” the former Inter and Chelsea coach declared.
Roma’s injury troubles
However, Mourinho insisted that Roma‘s difficult season in Serie A had to be taken in the context of a mounting injury crisis, with the Lupi short of defenders and unable to maintain star forward Paulo Dybala‘s fitness.
“We went through two difficult periods: the first three games in which without a team we dropped eight points out of nine, and this last cycle with a very reduced group of players. To forget these difficulties is not right,” he continued.
“(Rasmus) Kristensen is not a full-back, (Gianluca) Mancini hasn’t trained for a month, (Dean Huijsen) played after 10 minutes in Serie A, (Diego) Llorente is injured. If people want to ignore this situation they are wrong. This is where I have to defend our group and say that it is a serious group, that works and suffers. We lost the derby, but we have Champions League qualification to play for.
“We are four points away from a very important target and we go to the San Siro with everything we have, with the certainty that the boys will give everything.”
Dybala absent again
Mourinho admitted that the loss of Dybala, after another injury picked up against Lazio, was making progress difficult and the financial limits on the club were an added complication.
“I think Dybala won’t be with us. Finding a way to replace him is not as easy as for (Manchester City coach Pep) Guardiola or (Chelsea‘s Mauricio) Pochettino.
“Unfortunately Roma are in a situation from the point of view of Financial Fair Play that limits them so much and this can be seen on the pitch, it can’t be hidden. We made an economic effort to have Chris Smalling and now we don’t have him and we can’t get a replacement, the same goes for Renato Sanches.
“Dybala is a very special player, who has played in a team with other special players like him, but there are none here. When he’s not here we’re in trouble, it’s not Andrea Belotti or Stephan El Shaarawy who make the connection, nor Joao Costa who is called up tomorrow and might play.”
Argentina international Dybala has been limited to just 13 league appearances this season.