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Mourinho pleased with first steps

Jose Mourinho was in an upbeat mood after seeing his Roma side beat Trabzonspor 2-1 on Thursday night.

The Giallorossi took a step towards qualification for the Europa Conference League group stage thanks to goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Eldor Shomurodov - as Mourinho picked up a win on his first competitive match in charge.

Here's what the Portuguese tactician had to say after the game...

How tough was that tonight? Roma won but without playing brilliantly…

“There was pressure there because it was a knockout game and the opponents we are facing are better than the Conference League. People thought that it would be an easy game, because we are playing in the Conference League. But it was a tough game: they are a good side with a lot of experience and some quality players – and with fans behind them who really helped in this match.

“But, despite that, the team stayed balanced, focused and did well out there. In the second half we struggled a bit from a fitness perspective, especially for guys like [Jordan] Veretout and [Bryan] Cristante who have not had a full pre-season. But the team were a team and that is the most important thing for me.

"Today the fans had an impact and I hope next Thursday at the Olimpico it will be the same. I hope we can reach the group stage.”

How important was the quality of the players too in getting this win?

“It’s easy for you guys to talk about players but it’s a bit harder for me: I should really start with Rui Patricio and continue through to Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Even those who played fewer minutes played their part tonight. But we got into dangerous positions too often without scoring. In the first half, how many crosses from Karsdorp or Vina…

“But we had a plan for the game and we followed it. After that, though, we lacked something in our decision-making, in our finishing. But I liked how the team reacted even in tough moments, like when they equalised. We worked even as a team, even once we got a bit tired. We won, but even if we hadn’t my verdict as a coach would have been positive.”

You have talked about professionalism. Now the players won’t go home: they’ll sleep at Trigoria.

“Perhaps their partners won’t be happy, but that’s what we have to do. We return too late and we need to recover. That’s professionalism. Holidays are over.”

In terms of the way the club has worked in the transfer market, and the opportunities young players will have to work with Mourinho; for the experienced players you have at your disposal and a fanbase that loves to dream like Roma’s … this all seems a season tailor-made for Jose Mourinho.

“The dream the fans have is the same as the players. You don’t play football to have fun but to win something, and we are no different. We know that we finished last season 29 points behind Inter and 16 or 19 points off fourth place, and that for two seasons in a row we have finished sixth or seventh. Slowly, slowly …

"Yes, the club has done well in the transfer market – but it was a reactive transfer market, not one we planned for. There were plans in place but then the injury to [Leonardo] Spinazzola and the exit of [Edin] Dzeko changed things.

"That means that I am still missing something. Perhaps something that I hope arrives next summer; that way we can have different aspirations in our second season. Like this, as I’ve said before the first match, we will draw a lot of games and there will be some defeats too, but we want to go into every game thinking that we can win.”

 
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