Serie A TIM


Jose Mourinho was pleased with his side's efforts as Roma beat Empoli 2-0 on Sunday evening.

Lorenzo Pellegrini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored the decisive goals either side of half-time, as the Giallorossi kept a clean sheet against one of Serie A's surprise packages so far.

Here's what the boss made of the game...

Does this Roma side play well only when they need to play well?

“I thought we played well tonight. We put in a solid performance. I can’t say that it was completely calm, because even at 2-0 you can’t be completely calm, but there was the feeling that we had control against a side that plays good football and that can cause problems, with two full-backs who really push up and a lot of men behind them that mean you have to be very alert defensively.

“We executed pretty well the things we worked on over the last few days. I think we deserved to win, and doing so after a defeat is always a good thing. We’ve played seven games and we’ve got 15 points in the league, so we are doing fine.”

What did you say to Nicolo Zaniolo when you took him off?

“That his performance was the way players need to respond after any setback. He was expecting to be called up to the national team, but Roberto [Mancini] made the choices he did – which I obviously respect and Nicolo does too.

“But playing like he did, he creates problems for Roberto which I am sure he is happy about. That’s how he needs to play. In this game, in the game against Lazio and in the last 20 minutes against Zorya on Thursday, Nico was strong, great in transition, took the initiative and tried to defend well too. He played really well. I was happy with him.”

There seems to be a great connection between Zaniolo and Pellegrini, which allows the former to really express himself.

“Pellegrini is our key link. He played tonight basically being man-marked, with a guy on him all the time trying to stop him, but Lorenzo played really well in a lot of different areas of the pitch and created a lot of chances for our forwards. We played well against one of the toughest teams in Serie A.”

How do you manage the pressure that this city puts on the side – one of the youngest sides in the league?

“I think the fans are ‘well-educated’. I’ll explain what I mean. When we had won three games I said it was not 30, and when we had won four I said they weren’t 40. That was before the first defeat; I said that one would come eventually and that when it did we would have to make sure we stayed calm and united.

“We know what we are, what we want and we know the difference there is between ourselves and the top sides in recent seasons. We know the journey we have in front of us.

“I have accepted a different sort of task compared to others in my career and I’m very happy about that: I’m happy to play Ebrima Darboe, to help develop Riccardo Calafiori and Nicola Zalewski.

“But when you look at other teams they make changes with other top players. We need to develop some of our own, and the fans understand that I think.

“I was calm after we won four games in a row and I stayed calm even after a defeat in a special game like the derby. Now part of that is age and experience, but I stay calm even when the fans are euphoric or even when they are down about the team.

“But what I really liked is that, after both our defeats, the support from the fans didn’t change: from Trigoria to the Olimpico there was the same backing as there was after our other wins.

“We got to the Olimpico an hour before the game and it was already full. So we are all together in this. We know we are a big, big club – but in terms of the team that we have there is still work to be done.”

(Photo LaPresse)