02 Jun 2023, 09:48

'Proud' Mourinho leaves Roma fans fearing summer exit

MILAN, June 2, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Jose Mourinho told his Roma players that
there was no need to cry after a long, emotional Europa League ride ended in
defeat at the final hurdle, but fans will shed a tear should the Portuguese
leave this summer.

Roma and Mourinho were denied a second European crown in as many years when
his exhausted, injury-ravaged team lost on penalties to Sevilla, but he gave
a rousing post-match speech on the pitch before thanking the army of Roma
fans who made it to Budapest.

His message was one of pride, which is what he has restored at Roma, a team
which has one of Italy's largest, most passionate fan bases but has won
little of note since being founded in 1927.

Last season's Europa Conference League win, the fifth major continental
trophy of Mourinho's career and the first in Roma's history, had supporters
believing that a winning mentality could be instilled in what has often been
a basket case club.

"You can lose a match, but you must never lose your dignity," Mourinho later
told reporters.

"We lost a match but we didn't lose our dignity. I've won five finals but I
didn't go home any prouder than I will today. Happier, obviously, but not

Those comments, and calling referee Anthony Taylor a "disgrace" in the Puskas
Arena's car park for not awarding Roma a second-half penalty for handball,
were lapped up by supporters who in Mourinho see their representative in the

- Future in doubt -

The 60-year-old's contract expires at the end of next season but rumours
about his future beyond the end of this month have been swirling since the
end of last year.

He has yet to sit down with Roma's billionaire American owner and president
Dan Friedkin, but Mourinho said on Wednesday that he and his team "deserve
more", saying that he was "too tired to do the job as a coach, as a spokesman
of the club".

"I want to stay but with the possibility of giving more," he added.

That has been taken as a hint that he wants more public backing and more
money in the transfer kitty to challenge and potentially win the Serie A
title like Napoli did this season.

Wednesday's defeat means that Roma will not compete in the Champions League
next season. A seven-game Serie A winless run has killed their hopes of the
top four and the increase in revenue that comes with Europe's top club

Roma are sixth in Italy's top flight with one match left this season and
could yet be overtaken by Juventus who sit just a point back in the
Conference League spot.

Roma host Spezia, who are scrapping for their Serie A lives, and will have to
deal with the physical and mental toll of losing such a gruelling final.

But the Spezia match will be little more than a backdrop for another
outpouring of emotion from the Stadio Olimpico stands to the team and
Mourinho in a hopeful bid to keep their coaching icon in the Italian capital.

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