The unforgivable elimination from the Italian Cup with Cremonese is the daughter of his mistakes. He no longer seems happy to be where he is
Horrible Rome? No, horrible Mou. “A horrible first half,” José dismissed the affair with hindsight. “It could only be horrible”, we say and he too could have said it as a shrewd millennial coach (“More than a thousand games on the bench”, he likes to remind us from time to time) with the (non) hindsight of before, thus saving the club and to the fans, wonderful and authorized to go mad, a beating that would have been easy to dodge.
Worse than the one with Bodo and any other debacle in Mou’s Romanist history. For what it was and for what it could have been and it won’t be: another full house in the semifinal inside a ferociously yellow and red Olympic team and a probable million-dollar final always on the home turf against Inter or Juventus to live on for whole weeks of waiting, boiling, titles and yearnings, not to mention the eventual victory and related consequences, in terms of emotional, economic and planning relaunch, including a Super Cup final to be played in a straight match next season.
In short, an unbearable defeat. However absurd and however easily avoidable. A minimum of sense was enough. A formation without rhyme or reason. The worst possible. So incomprehensible that you can only explain it as the omnipotence blow of a coach inclined to believe in the dogma of his own infallibility. The couple Cristante and Tahirovic in the midfield is implausible at any level, not even in a friendly against Solbiatese. It remains so, even if anointed by the Lord of Setubal. He forbids little and proposes zero, splits the team into two non-communicating logs. Mou’s sudden (insane?) football passion for this twenty-year-old is inexplicable. Parachuted into a situation conspicuously bigger than him, poor Benjamin, crushed by the consciousness of not being where he should be, has regressed to the level of elementary football, unable to dare anything other than the comfortable ball behind his closest partner. Which, if it’s Kumbulla, you can hear the noise of the omelette before the omelette is completed. No, José, so you don’t do the good of the “child”, so you kill him in the cradle. If you then add child to child…
Volpato has much more kick in the feet but lacks, let’s say, the street dedication of a Bove, more useful in an inside or outside match. You don’t go far if you line up a still unripe sweetbread next to a Pellegrini whose two-cylinder engine hiccups these days. There is no body. Zero consistency. It was enough to withdraw Pellegrini or deploy the last, brilliant El Shaarawy alongside him, instead of ousting him as a winger with marking duties. If you then leave Smalling out and choose Kumbulla as the pivot of defense, as cumbersome as ever due to congenital biomechanics, accumulated rust and confidence at an all-time low, you are close to the masterpiece of the worst, the nightmare canvas of the “horrible Mou”. Then add (to the disaster) and subtract (from Rome) the ostracism for Camara and the mysterious reticence in showing a handsome talent like Solbakken (in the continuing absence of Zaniolo, Dybala and Abraham on the bench, and such an exhausted Pellegrini). Feelings? From bad to very bad. The Mourinho of recent times suggests the idea of a man between listless and irritated. You understand it from how he trains and how he communicates.
Was celebrating the defeat in Naples a test of strength or weakness? Doesn’t exalting the most beautiful Rome of the season in this way underline how little it was in the rest of the season? Sending that team onto the field in a quarter of the Italian Cup, three steps from delirium, isn’t it proof of a coach who has lost sight of his most well-known faculty, the animalistic urge to win? The management, even verbal, of the Karsdorp case (was it really necessary to define him a “traitor”?) and the lack of clarity in that of Zaniolo seem to be further proof of a coach who is no longer happy to stay where he is. If true, clarity is needed. The Friedkins know the art of silence, but silence isn’t always golden.
February 4 – 08:36
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