Coach Jose Mourinho held his customary pre-match press conference on Wednesday afternoon, as Roma prepare to face Udinese in another important Serie A meeting.
Thursday's game at the Stadio Olimpico gets underway at 20:45 CEST, with the Giallorossi looking to bounce back after a first defeat of the season against Hellas Verona.
Here's what the boss had to say about that 3-2 defeat, and the challenge now in front of the team...
The game against Verona seemed to confirm the suspicion that Roma will struggle in really physical games this season, in games where there are lots of one-on-one battles. Can you resolve that issue somehow, or will you ultimately need to sign a central midfielder who is better suited to dictating the play?
“The transfer window is closed, but you guys want to talk to me about the transfer market! I won’t do it, I won’t talk about transfers. Obviously we will analyse this topic, but I can’t share with you everything we look at and everything we analyse. I understand your question, but I won’t answer it. Not even the first part – I don’t want to talk about the squad suffering in certain circumstances. In the same I didn’t join your euphoria when we won three games in the league and three more in Europe, I am not going to get involved with any talk of 'big problems' now.
“We lost a game, we didn’t play well. And as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing more I need to say to you than that. To my players then, yes, obviously we have analysed the game in detail, but even then we did it in a way that looks to the future, and not back on a game that is already lost and that has already seen us drop three points.”
You are a coach with a lot of experience, that has won everything there is to win. After a defeat like that, which few people expected, how long does it take you to realise whether it is a one-off, or the symptom of a bigger problem?
“Why did so few people expect it? Because we had won the three games before it? Perhaps because here it is too easy for euphoria to start when we win and depression to begin when we lose. I won’t get involved in that. You have all seen me celebrate like crazy [against Sassuolo] after a special win, on a special day for me, in a special minute, in a special way … but you have seen me in that way for just one minute in two months so far. Just once. Other than that you have always seen me remain calm, balanced, never euphoric, never saying that a team that finished 29 points off the top spot last season can win the league. You’ve never seen that from me.
“And, now, you won’t see me doing the opposite just because we’ve lost one game. Perhaps I am too honest, perhaps after the game I could have said that, ‘The referee should not have given Veretout a yellow card, it affected him and how he could play for the rest of the game’. Or I could have talked about the rain which didn’t help, or the condition of the pitch. Perhaps I was too honest when I said, ‘We didn’t play well, we made mistakes.’ Perhaps a draw would have been fair for all; but we lost. We are sad about that but we are still keeping it in perspective.
“And you all will not influence me this way or that way based on one result. I am keeping a balance. I knew what it was like before I came here. I am here exactly because of the experience, the maturity and the balance that I have. To make sure I don’t get the fans too excited after three games won – three games, not thirty. Those were my words. And now, in the same way, to tell the fans not to be too disappointed. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of work to do.
“You are trying to put us in the mix with teams that have finished recent seasons with 15, 20, 25 points more than us. Instead, you need to leave us to it. In the good moments and the bad ones. In the good moments, don’t say that we are candidates to win something – because we are not candidates for anything yet. My words again: We are only candidates to win the next game in front of us. That’s all.
“We lost, and you want me to analyse the game in Verona. I can’t involve myself with that. Monday was a day off for the team, but not for me and my staff. We were here at 10 in the morning. We worked all day, analysing and preparing. The next day the players arrived. We analysed the game, we held meetings both individually and as a team. We went back to work. Now we are trying to win another tough game, this time against Udinese. We are both trying to win this game.
“So we stay calm, we stay balanced. And I am calm. Am I a bit less happy? That’s normal, that’s natural when you’ve lost a game. And we’ve talked about that as well. We need to turn that disappointment into motivation. Not disappointment into depression. If we already have a ‘big problem’ after losing one game, then imagine what’s going on with the other teams that have lost two or three or drawn a few. So we will stay calm.
“We are following our path, and that path is about ambition and focus. But ambition built on a level of calm. That’s how it is. Calm. We are calm.”