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Mourinho: Progress will take time but Sundays are for winning

Read everything the boss had to say ahead of Sunday's Serie A opener against Fiorentina...

The game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CEST.

How is the team looking after their efforts in midweek?

“Victories always help with the recovery. When you win, the tiredness isn’t quite the same as it is after a defeat. And that is a good thing for us. No new injuries from the game either, not even little knocks. So we are good.

“We are ready, even if we only played 48 hours ago. But the sport today is like that. Having squad depth can help us in tougher moments. Against Trabzonspor we saw what a difference it makes to the intensity when you have played a few more competitive games.

“I won’t make a lot of changes tomorrow; we need to play and to get minutes in our legs. We have this game, Trabzonspor and then Salernitana before the first international break. We need to push forward to then.”

Can the Roma fans help you to close the gap on the other teams?

“The fans can help – but they can also play a real role too. Sometimes they are there at the stadium, sometimes they are there at the stadium to help the team, and sometimes they are there to really play. They can have that impact.

“Their passion is tremendous. I’ve felt that, as an opponent. It’s over a year now that fans haven’t been able to go to the stadium. If they really play their part alongside us, it will be much more difficult for Fiorentina to go home with a positive result.”

Did you say this week you are still ‘missing something’ to spur the club into action, or to ensure expectations remain lower?

“The only thing I’m missing right now is the three points from tomorrow. Three points that are available to us and to Fiorentina. We want those points, our players want them. We want to win, that’s what I’m thinking about.

“But I understand your question. I tried to explain [at the time] what I meant as well as I could. I said that our transfer activity has been reactive, based on emerging needs. Because of that we haven’t signed a few players that were part of my initial vision, my analysis for what could be important to balance out the squad.

“However, when a club has reacted as fantastically as we have to the problems that the market have thrown up for us, I do not have any right to apply any sort of pressure. And I will continue to hide behind a key word in all this: ‘Time'. Time is key to our project.

“Time is a word that brought me here to Roma. It will be difficult to make a big leap. My task is to work, to work with the players we currently have. And then to be given the time to build on that. If we can’t build on that now then we will do it in January, if we cannot do it in January then we will do it the following summer. I hope that this might be the last time we talk about this.

“However, to repeat, I am extremely pleased with the efforts the club have made in the market and the way they have been with me and with this project. I don’t have any right to ask anything more. We will work with what we have, with the positive feeling that I like to see. We will go into every game looking to win; there won’t be any game where we won’t look to win.

“As a principle we will also aim to win, even when we play some sides that are stronger than us.”

How are you approaching tomorrow’s game? Have you watched Fiorentina’s last few friendlies, or rather how Spezia used to play under [new Fiorentina coach] Vincenzo Italiano?

“Fiorentina have chosen two great coaches this summer – first Gennaro Gattuso, and then Vincenzo Italiano. So congratulations to them, they chose well.

“With our match analysts we have studied everything that it is possible to study. We know the dangers. They have quality players, a quality coach who has arrived recently like me. When a coach has had a while at a club to implement his ideas then the threat can be different. But, having said that, Italiano is a good coach, I’m a good coach … and I think both teams already play pretty well considering the little time together so far.”

Are you worried about the standard of pitches in Italy, especially compared to those in England that you know well. And, also, will Tammy Abraham be involved tomorrow?

“In England the climate helps a lot with the quality of the pitches, and that is true in other aspects too - so it is a little difficult to compare England with other places. However, I will say that some of the mutterings about Chris Smalling’s injury and the quality of the pitch are completely unfair to me.

“The pitch was not good last week [for the game against Raja Club], and I have my doubts about whether it will be great tomorrow – but I have confidence in the professionalism and pride of those whose job it is to work on it. For sure, the week after, when Lazio play at home, the pitch will be in even better condition for them. So, there should be a bit of pressure applied from everyone, not just from my Instagram – which is a bit of a mean Instagram where I have no filter. I think something, and I just post it. No-one can control me, not even Luca [club press officer Luca Pietrafesa] there.

“But anyway, the pitches in Italy need to get better. If we want to see brilliant football, then we need brilliant pitches to play on.

“As for Abraham: tomorrow he will be in the squad. He has not trained this week with the team, he’s been training alone because those are the current rules. But he has played pre-season at Chelsea, he’s played in some decent games with them and I think he’s physically ready to play. It’s been a tough week for him, though, with all the travelling and the medical tests and the paperwork that has had to be signed. But he will be with us.

"We have three forwards – Borja Mayoral, him, Eldor Shomurodov – and I am delighted to have them.”

At what point is Bryan Reynolds at in his development? And what can you say about Alessandro Florenzi’s departure?

“There’s not a lot I can say yet about Reynolds – we’ve only been working together for a month or so. Physically he has great attributes to be a full-back, that’s clear. Tactically and technically he needs to improve, but he’s coming from a completely different environment so that is normal. He’s never played in Europe, he’s still very young.

“As for Florenzi, I want to wish him well for the season – I hope he’s happy in Milan, although I also hope that he ends up finishing behind us. We spoke together once, and on that occasion he was clear about what he wanted to do and that was to go to Milan. The club listened to the player’s wishes, which were to go.”

You have often mentioned the word ‘time’. Today you’ve said you will hide behind that word. In the past, in all the clubs you have been at, the time has always been now for you. So is it Roma that has changed that for you, or have you changed yourself?

“I said that I would hide behind the word ‘time’ in order to get away from you questions… Roma is a giant club, it’s a club on a par with others I have worked for in my career in terms of its history, its fanbase, the city it is in.

"But the other aspect is always the nature of the project. When I went to Chelsea, or to Inter Milan, or to Real Madrid the projects there were all clear: win now. Now, not tomorrow. But Roma are in a different situation.

“The club has not won for a while, and last season it finished a long way from the top, or from fourth spot either. So clearly changing that will take time. Numbers tell the story, and the numbers say that we haven’t won for a number of years and we need to make up a lot of points on our rivals. So I will say it again: time.

“With a lot work internally, invisible work done behind the scenes, and time then the results will come. But I will say it again: for tomorrow, for the next one against Salernitana … Sundays are for winning.”

Can you explain your approach with the full-backs? On Thursday we saw both full-backs push up a lot, although the crosses didn’t always come off…

“I will start with a joke. In England I always used to say that I missed the press conferences in Italy, because here we talk more about tactics – whereas they only want to talk about controversies. Now I’m back in Italy, though, I don’t want to talk about tactics because you are too good at it!

“That apart, though, you are right. We had a lot of crosses in Turkey and we messed up a number of them, it’s true. But we can set it up so both full-backs push up, only one pushes up, or even sometimes neither of them push up. There are different ways of arriving at the same target.

“Football has changed, you can’t have just one way of playing. That way you make things harder for your opponent. To get to our targets we need to win games, and to win games we need to score goals. To score goals we need to get in the final third, and there are different ways of doing that.

“Being able to cross a ball is usually a quality that a player either has or he doesn’t. Sometimes it’s about confidence, though, or it’s an unlucky spell. When I look at Rick Karsdorp, Matias Vina or Riccardo Calafiori I can say that they all know how to cross the ball well. But in Trabzon it was Henrikh Mkhitaryan who delivered the cross that created the first goal, and he’s not a full-back. So we will try to build up our attacking play so we have a number of different options.”

Which teams in Italy do you think are currently ahead of Roma?

“You guys already know, this is an easy question. The league table speaks for itself. When there are just a few points between teams then you can say they are of the same level, but when there are 25 points difference, or 16 or 17 … let’s leave it like that.

“We want to focus on ourselves. But the approach doesn’t change. We always want to win the game in front of us. And, when we go up against sides that last season finished above us, that approach will not change. We will be trying to win.”

 
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