Motivation, mettle and memories: The Mourinho factor makes AS Roma serious Europa League contenders

Jose Mourinho's record in European competitions is hard to dispute, which makes AS Roma very serious contenders to go all the way in this season's Europa League after already tasting European success under the Portuguese coach just last season.


Jose Mourinho would be the first to admit that he has loftier personal ambitions than winning the Europa League. The same can be said for everybody at AS Roma.

But, as he showed last year in the Europa Conference League, the Portuguese can be a master at motivating both players and supporters to focus on the objective in front of them.

That will be a concerning thought for the rest of the field in Europe’s secondary competition.

Mourinho has got his players laser-focused on lifting a second successive piece of continental silverware, after last season’s triumph in Tirana ended a 14-year trophy drought.

The fans are fully behind the pursuit; 61,608 of them packed into the Stadio Olimpico and created a racket for their recent 2-0 win over Real Sociedad, despite the awkward early kick-off time.

Roma boss Jose Mourinho. (@ASRomaEN)

It was another impressive result and performance from the Giallorossi, who are on an outstanding run at home.

With eight wins and eight clean sheets in nine home games since the turn of the year – including five in a row on both counts now – Mourinho’s men have turned the Olimpico into a fortress.

They are now in a strong position to go and finish the job in the Basque Country and progress to the quarter-finals.

Home form aside, Mourinho’s personal record in this competition is a formidable factor to consider when it comes to Roma’s Europa League hopes in 2022/23.

Mourinho’s Europa joy

Jose Mourinho celebrates winning the Europa Conference League. (REUTERS/Florion Goga)

The Portuguese coach made his name in the Champions League, bursting onto the scene by leading Porto to an unexpected triumph in 2004 before leading Inter to a stunning title in 2010 – the last time an Italian side succeeded in the competition.

But when he has dropped into the lower tiers, Mourinho has tended to succeed.

Mourinho’s home form in the Europa League now stands at a formidable 15 wins in 17 games, the only defeat coming earlier this season against Real Betis in the group stage.

The first time he experienced Europe’s second-tier competition was while in charge of Porto in 2002/03, in what was then the UEFA Cup.

It was the Portuguese side’s barnstorming run, where they eliminated Lazio in the semi-finals before edging Celtic in the final, that set them on the path to going one step further in the Champions League a year later.

There was a gap of 14 years until Mourinho was next involved in the tournament, with Manchester United in 2016/17. The result? Another trophy lift.

It may have been sneered at in some quarters at the time as a relatively insignificant achievement in the grander scheme of Mourinho and United’s objectives, but it has taken the Red Devils until this year to win anything else – the League Cup.

Mourinho’s next crack at it was with Tottenham in 2020/21, a run that ended not-so spectacularly with an exit to Dinamo Zagreb in the last-16 after the Croatians overturned a 2-0 first-leg defeat to win the second 3-0 after extra-time.

That game was clearly looming large in Mourinho’s thoughts after Thursday’s win, judging by his post-match comments.

“Winning 2-0 is only a good result if we don’t concede three in the second leg. I refuse to say it was a great game after the first leg,” Mourinho said.

Roma celebrate a goal in the Europa League. (@OfficialASRoma)

Then there’s the Conference League. Rather than turn his nose up at it, Mourinho set out to win it from the start.

The scenes of euphoria in the capital when they did, with tens of thousands of fans taking to the streets to celebrate an open-top bus parade, underlined how much it meant to the supporters to end that long wait for silverware.

Two wins from three appearances in the Europa League, and one from one in the Conference League, is a very impressive return.

And Mourinho being Mourinho, he will be desperate for silverware this season.

He has spoken of the importance of winning trophies in order to breed a winning mentality, and the Europa League is Roma’s last chance to do that this season – the Scudetto is out of sight and Cremonese unexpectedly ended their Coppa Italia run in the quarter-finals.

With a serial European trophy winner at the helm, fans creating a cauldron for every home game and the defence refusing to concede any goals in the capital, Roma stand every chance.


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