Mourinho talks Abraham performance, Empoli qualities and Roma injury crisis

José Mourinho manager of AS Roma gestures during the Serie A match between Empoli FC and AS Roma at Stadio Carlo Castellani on September 12, 2022 in Empoli, Italy.

Jose Mourinho was satisfied with Roma’s hard-fought win over Empoli, even if things could’ve been prettier on a warm Tuscan evening.

The Giallorossi took the lead after only 17 minutes thanks to a trademark curler from Paulo Dybala, but things got a little more complicated after Filippo Bandinelli found an equaliser just before half time. An edgy second half followed but Roma eventually secured the win thanks to a close-range effort from Tammy Abraham.

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, Mourinho first discussed Abraham’s performance and his movement for the second goal.

“He has to do it. He has to drop deep when the team needs him. Maybe he can struggle more mentally to do it, but that is also the mission.

“I must say that scoring goals against Vicario was difficult, he looked like the best goalkeeper in the world.”

He commented on how Roma had to suffer to secure all three points against Empoli.

“We could’ve won in another way, with more tranquillity. If we were 3-1 up we could’ve managed it better ahead of Thursday. But the important thing is to win again.

“We suffered, seven minutes of extra time for a team that wins is a lot but we managed it well.

“I want to congratulate Zanetti because his Empoli team were tough to play against, but in the end we deserved the victory.”

The Portuguese coach looked ahead to the Giallorossi’s upcoming Europa League clash against HJK Helsinki.

“The way these teams work, those considered secondary, has changed. In Europe you used to draw a Scandinavian team and it was done, if you drew one from the East it was the same, unless you drew one of the big ones.

“Now everyone knows what the best teams are doing, just a click away on social media.”

Finally, Mourinho discussed if Roma’s season has started as he expected and the impact of the injury crisis affecting the team.

“The run of points is not a problem. Obviously Udinese are a tough game away from home, we were aiming to score points and we failed to do so. All games are tough, here too we were in danger of losing two points.

“On a game level we’re a team with a lot of difficulties that we didn’t expect. If we lose players we’re in trouble. I’ll take this opportunity to thank Zaniolo, for his effort to be here. Before the second goal he was ready to come on the pitch to help the team and it’s different without him.

“Wijnaldum was a key player for us and he got injured. Cristante and Matic are two great players but for our idea of the game it’s not easy to make them play together. Then with the injuries of Zalewski and Karsdorp we are uncovered on the wings.

“There are difficulties, in two days we have a game to win and in four Atalanta who aren’t playing in the cups.

“These are difficulties that smaller teams don’t have and they can prepare for these games with a different potential. But I prefer to have the difficulties but stay in the thick of the competitions and play on Thursday.”

In a press conference, Mourinho also spoke about if Roma would’ve beaten Empoli without Dybala on the pitch.

“I don’t know. To say he played well is obvious, not all players have his potential. We were a team and I like that. I didn’t like the time between our first goal and theirs, we stopped pressing and lost positioning going forward and also in defence.

“They had space to create. In the second half we transformed, we were always in control. The third goal had to come and after that we put ourselves in a risky situation. The victory is deserved, they are difficult to play against.”

At the end of matchday six, Roma sit 5th in the Serie A table with 13 points, only one point behind by league leaders Napoli, Atalanta and Milan.

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