After a full midweek slate of Serie A action, there were only three matches Saturday as AC Milan took care of business against a bottom-of-the-table Salenitana side behind early goals from Franck Kessie and Alexis Saelemaekers and Atalanta handed Napoli their first home loss of the season. The story of the day, however, is that not all is well in Rome for Jose Mourinho.
Rome is fuming?
Roma have not dropped in the table yet, but they’ve lost two in a row and four out of the past six. It was clear from the opener that it wouldn’t be Roma’s day, but they didn’t even show up for the race in this one.
Only putting one shot on target and not even being able to touch Inter after they went up 3-0 in the first half says a lot both about Inter still being an amazing team and Roma not being anywhere close to where they want to be. While Tammy Abraham sat this one out due to suspension and Lorenzo Pellegrini was sidelined due to injury, this was a match where things again came down to Jose Mourinho’s tactics.
When things go well for Mourinho, as they did in August and September, they go extremely well. From the beginning of the season through September, Roma had four wins and sat fourth with 14 goals scored (fourth-best in Italy) and eight goals allowed (seventh best). And then all of a sudden the wheels fell off. Roma are eighth via points since Oct. 1. They’ve only scored 10 goals, good for 13th in the league, and allowed 11 goals (seventh). It has been quite the mid-table slide, which isn’t what Mourinho was given complete autonomy for.
Mourinho is beginning to feel the pressure as he is starting to get extra prickly with reporters before and after matches. Following Saturday’s loss, the Portuguese manager deflected a question asked by a reporter and instead said: “Your job is a lot easier than ours which is why we earn a lot more than you.”
While there are issues at play outside of his control and his job may not be in immediate danger, these responses sound eerily similar to the end of his reigns at Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham. What’s especially concerning is that it usually takes a season or two for the bottom to fall out. We’re only 23 games into his time at Roma. With showdowns against Atalanta, AC Milan and Juventus among the next five league matches for the Giallorossi, things will get worse before they get better too.
We’ve got a Scudetto race, folks
On the other side of Roma’s loss is that Inter Milan don’t look like a side that lost Antonio Conte, Romelu Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi this summer. Credit to Simone Inzaghi as they’ve now won four straight and look like the most dangerous attacking outfit in the league.
Atalanta reminded us that they can’t be left out when discussing Serie A’s top teams after going toe to toe with Napoli and coming out with a 3-2 victory. The victory gives Atalanta a nine-point gap on fifth place and leave them only four points out of league leaders AC Milan as Serie A’s top tier is beginning to take shape. Ruslan Malinovskyi opened the scoring with quite a finish that was assisted by great hold up play from Duvan Zapata.
Piotr Zielinski leveled things in the 40th minute before Napoli went ahead right after halftime via Dries Mertens to stun Atalanta. But this is where Atalanta’s growth shows as they were able to regroup and score two goals from Merih Demiral and Remo Freuler to get the win. It’s amazing that with these results all top four teams are firmly in the Scudetto race while only one point separates each team in the top three.
Any dropped points will loom large in a title race that will go down to the wire. After them, the race for fifth place also is wide open with five teams sitting three points off of Roma. The pressure is on and teams will also have to invest during the January transfer window.