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    Mourinho eyes Mancini as potential midfield solution

    See everything the boss had to say ahead of Sunday's Serie A meeting with Torino...

    Jose Mourinho held his customary pre-match press conference on Saturday afternoon, ahead of the upcoming Serie A meeting with Torino.

    Sunday's game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 18:00 CET, as the Giallorossi look to build on last weekend's late triumph in Genoa.

    Here's what the boss had to say going into the game...

    What sort of game are you expecting against Torino, a tough side who like to go man-to-man against teams?

    “A tough game. Torino are a side that defend really well. They have a clear style. That’s not to say that they have a unique way of defending, because there are others that do it well, but they are certainly a great example of that way of defending.

    “And even if we speak very objectively, in terms of the numbers, then they are a side that don’t give away many chances. So it will be very tough. We will need to be at our best going forward if we are going to score goals.”

    On Thursday you played with three at the back again because of the absence of left-backs. Could we see that same setup tomorrow?

    “It’s a good question, a football question. But from my perspective I obviously don’t want to answer whether we will play with four at the back or five [three centre-backs and wing-backs].

    “The injury situation has improved, in terms of the options we have, apart from Jordan Veretout’s suspension and the Covid positives for Cristante and Villar. So now our problems are in the midfield area.

    “In central midfield we are without two clear starters in Cristante and Veretout. Villar is a quality option as well. But with Vina, Karsdorp, Smalling, Kumbulla and Mancini all now available we have the option to play in both formations. Before now, with no left-backs, then there was only one way we could play.”

    Tomorrow the Olimpico will be almost sold out yet again – as it will be for the Inter Milan match next month. Did you expect the Roma fans to be quite like this? Does it make things harder for opponents?

    “I knew all about the passion of the fans. All that love and passion, I expected that. I felt it from the very first day. The Italian culture, or at least the culture that I knew from my first time here, cannot be compared with English football – where every game is always sold out. And that is whatever the weather conditions are. So in that sense it’s pleasing for me, to see such a positive movement here too. Our fans need us to win at the Olimpico.

    “We have already won, lost and drawn games there – sometimes with good performances, sometimes less good performances. But they have always watched a team trying hard. They are playing for themselves but also for the fans in the stands. And I think that’s why the fans feel a connection and an empathy with the players.

    “Perhaps that is why, even in the Conference League, a competition that perhaps the fans could struggle to fall in love with, even on a wet Thursday evening they were there – it wasn’t sold out but it was impressive. I wouldn’t say it is ever easier to play like that, but it’s definitely more exciting. For the opposition too.

    “And that’s what football should be – if it’s better for everyone then that is great. If we have played a part in all this, in persuading more fans are coming to the stadium, then that is great.”

    Roma have this season scored seven goals in the last 15 minutes of the first half, and seven in the last 15 minutes of the second half too. Is that a testament to the patience of the side?

    “I’ve never thought about things like that. Never thought about it. It’s hard to say. It’s not something that we target; we don’t think about the right moment to score or about being patient. Every minute of every game is the right moment to score! But the character of this team, in terms of mentality, is to keep going until the last whistle.

    “You’ve never heard me say that my team is finished or that we don’t want to win or that we don’t have that hunger. Look at the game in Genoa; despite the difficulties we faced we still wanted to find the winning goal and we managed it. So that shows what this team is about.”

    Could Gianluca Mancini be an option in midfield, given your selection problems there?

    “He definitely could be. Especially because now we have four centre-backs available to us again. Mancini, Kumbulla, Ibanez and Smalling – all of them are available. If I ask one of them to make that sacrifice then they will have to do it. Ibanez has already played at left-back this season. Perhaps at some point he will also have to play right-back in that same system.

    “If Mancini has to play a spot in midfield, defensive midfield, then he can do it. You can’t put someone like Nicolo Zaniolo at left-back or Matias Vina up front. But there are players with that ability, like Cristante, Mancini, Ibanez and Mkhitaryan. They are versatile. It’s not just about the sacrifice of playing a different role, but also having the ability and the quality to do it. And Mancini has already played in midfield before in his career.”