One year since his arrival: when Mourinho can give you wings
On July 2, 2021, the portuguese coach arrived in Trigoria. From that day he began to build his Roma: between runs and tears, he gave us back our identity
With the index finger of his right hand, the man of destiny pointed to our coat of arms: the Capitoline She-Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus. José Mourinho was pointing to our identity, our roots. It was one year ago, July 2, 2021, when we felt the air change. Even in the scorching heat that inflamed the Capital, a cool breeze was blowing over Rome. The "Special One" had just landed, greeted warmly first at the airport then in Trigoria with delirious fans cheering for the Portuguese, and him pounding on his heart, blowing kisses and pointing to the center of the crest: the "Lupa" of Roma. A simple gesture (for some clueless people perhaps even trivial), but it was foreshadowing what would happen shortly thereafter.
The weight of words
Mou leaves nothing to chance. His declaration of intent came right from his first conference as the Giallorossi coach: "I don't want Mourinho's Roma. I want the Roma of the Roma people." The first trophy the magician won from Setubal showed just that, well before the Conference League triumph; it re-established the bond between the team and its fans to be the strongest it has been in a long time. In part due to the harmony with the Friedkins and Tiago Pinto, the people - back from dismal years, to say the least - and the club have become one again. The warmth of the Olimpico - and the away visiting section - has returned to play the role of eleventh man on the field, proved by the sold-out games with more than 60,000 spectators at less-favored matches (see Salernitana, Bologna and Venezia). For these fans, every match Roma plays is a main event, and Mou understood this from his first moment as Roma's coach, perhaps understanding even before his arrival.
In the summer, Mou was delighted by his team's athleticism, shown in some friendlies in Portugal which built a bond between him and the players. Mou also scolded his players harshly when they were overwhelmed by a Norwegian team in Bodø. The words he issued on Oct. 21 set the foundation for the Tirana victory; it is no coincidence that, from that moment on, Roma had never gone wrong in its approach to a European game. Mourinho has been hard on his team even after surreal performances, such as the home black-out against Juve: "The team has no leadership. I told the boys that they have to be the ones to come in my direction. It's not me who has to go towards them psychologically." Words are important, especially when well said, they can be as impactful as action. José, who regarding communication has earned every possible master's degree on the most prestigious fields in Europe, knew this well: it was from communication (verbal and gestural) that he built his revolution, a new Copernicus ready to make the "Rome-centric system" triumph.
Gestures that speak
The rush under the Curva Sud at El Shaarawy's goal in the 91st minute against Sassuolo, on the day of his 1,000th bench, was a moment that shed light on what Mourinho had been doing for a couple of months now: he was building a group, a team, and he did it by putting together the pieces of the past, using passion, enthusiasm, and heart as the glue. These are all things that you can't buy in the market. You can take the best leaders and bet everything on the mentality of the team, but a leader's characteristics have to be channeled in the right direction.
Which direction? Simple: that of Roma and its fans, an ideal that was indicated by the Portuguese coach with that liberating cry at the triple whistle after the return semifinal against Leicester. "I shed a tear for every Romanista," Mou said, and on that same day, he repeatedly harped on the concept of "family", a family of Giallorossi people that were given a European final after 31 years. That final, which ended in a jubilation of ecstasy, was something the "Special One" had been preparing for since July 2 when he pointed his finger at the only thing that really deserved attention.
The city's celebration of the Conference League victory began with a collective explosion of joy that erupted in the late evening of May 25 and continued with the team's parade through the streets of the capital the following afternoon, meaning that, like Julius Caesar, Mou could say "Veni. Vidi. Vici" or "I came. I saw. I conquered". Even with that, Josè has no intention of stopping progress, and he reiterated this in his Instagram post on May 28; not even 72 hours had passed since the triumph and he wrote, "I have to think about what's next." Great leaders are like that; they do not rest on their laurels (something that has often happened in Rome's past instead), but immediately project themselves to the next challenges and the next goals. One, the most important of all, has already been set, "I would like to see this club united forever by this passion and love," Mou said. With Mourinho at the helm, nothing is impossible because he is a captain who, despite the difficulties that have been there and will be there in the future, has never lost sight of the course and the horizon.
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