Under the Christmas Tree: Mourinho wants to regain lost goals

29 goals in 21 matches. Apart from Dybala (7goals, 1 every 116'), all the other forwards are traveling at midfielder averages. Those are not Champions League numbers

Abraham and the team cheers after a goal

Abraham and the team cheers after a goal (As Roma via Getty Images)

14 Dicembre 2022 - 13:03

"Dear Santa Claus, life has given me much, even more than I could have hoped for. I have no special wishes. So this time under the tree I ask you to let me find the goals lost by my Roma. Thank you. Signed Jose Mourinho." 

We are fantasizing, of course, but if the Special One should ever really send his little letter to Santa Claus, we believe we are not far from the truth. The most pressing footballing wish for the Portuguese coach would be precisely to find, when the league resumes, a Roma side that returns to more continuous confidence against the opponent's goal. Because beyond all the other issues that one might also consider in discussing the first stuttering phase of the Giallorossi's season, the one that is inevitably the most important is the offensive constipation. Roma has only scored twenty-nine goals in twenty-one official matches, an average of less than a goal and a half every ninety minutes. Far too few for a Roma side that has ambitions to qualify for the Champions League again and go a long way in Europa League and Coppa Italia.

Nils Liedholm, a few years ago, among the many pearls of footballing wisdom he passed on to us, used to say that to understand if a team is working you have to see if the forwards are scoring. "Because when you train and when you make the schemes, the logical objective is to make the forwards score". Mourinho's second Roma has numbers that might even be acceptable (17 of the 29 goals scored were scored by the forwards, not including Lorenzo Pellegrini), but the problem remains that of the few goals scored, a consequence of a first part of the season in which Roma created a lot while squandering (example: the game against Atalanta) the Giallorossi still struggled a lot to present themselves in front of the opponent's goal on duty. 

The figure, which is already disappointing in absolute terms, becomes even more worrying if one goes to examine the performance of the role forwards deployed by Mourinho. The best, easy guess, was Paulo Dybala. The Joya scored seven goals, one every 116' played. The rest is a crescendo that hurts: Shomurodov scored one goal every 151', El Shaarawy one goal (the only one) every 529', Belotti (2 goals) one every 328', Zaniolo (2) one every 490' and Abraham one (four goals) every 350'. These are numbers and percentages more like midfielders than forwards, and with these figures, it is challenging to go out and win games.

It is clear that in the next year the main problem that Mourinho will have to try to solve will be the low offensive prolificacy. With Dybala's return, part of the problem will probably be solved, but it is clear that (along with the newcomer Solbakken) it will have to be the others who need to give better responses in terms of scoring. In particular, three players Mourinho highlighted in his letter to Santa Claus: Abraham, Belotti and Zaniolo, eight goals in three which is a deficit, considering the qualities the three have shown in the previous years. It will therefore be up to the Englishman, Gallo and Nicolò to give the answers that Mourinho and the entire Giallorossi environment expect. Especially the Englishman, who so far has looked like a very faded photocopy of the one who made Rome fall in love with him in his first season in Trigoria.