With flamboyant vibes, an operatic atmosphere and an act of betrayal mid-plot to rival anything William Shakespeare would produce, Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on a grueling evening in September was the perfect setting for Jose Mourinho’s latest collapse on the touchline.
Mourinho spent the last year in charge of Roma, leading the club to their first European title last season while displaying the kind of animosity that has turned this wronged Portuguese son into a household name across the world.
With Roma trailing Serie A leaders Atalanta on Sunday, the 59-year-old discovered an ideal opportunity to distract from his side’s shortcomings.
Mourinho and his players felt Niccolo Zaniolo was dragged into the area by Atalanta’s Caleb Okoli, but the on-field referee and VAR officials did not believe the challenge justified a penalty.
The Roma coach made the decision with remarkable grace. While the referee was deliberating on whether Zaniolo’s faltering warranted a penalty, Mourinho dazzledly dashed onto the pitch and waved his hands in the manner of a young child wanting his mother’s attention.
Fingers stabbed angrily. The Italian section turned the sky into attractive shades of blue. Mourinho’s outstretched arms were crippled by Killjoy’s official at his best.
The red card was as inevitable as it was glorious; Despite approaching his 60th birthday, Mourinho still oozes with the energy of the world’s most grumpy teenager and has come out auspiciously through an intriguing big gate.
He whispered softly, but the referee made the right decision in the end. But Mourinho knew exactly what he was doing by beating the crowd into a frenzy, and making himself the headliner instead of beating Roma 1-0.
Meanwhile, dozens of fans across Europe reached out to eat popcorn and failed to hide the smile. This pantomime was classic Jose.
Jose Mourinho was kicked out of the Olympic Stadium 🟥
The Roma coach was ordered to walk after protesting the referee’s decision not to award his team a penalty. pic.twitter.com/lliYiR62t4
Football on BT Sport (btsportfootball) September 18 2022
Mourinho had failed to boil slowly as a microphone was pushed in his direction. “There was a very clear penalty kick,” he said in his post-match press conference. “I then asked the referee why, and asked him to explain with me that the reason was that Zaniolo had not come down.
“So I have to change my advice to the players, I have to tell them not to try to get on your feet, don’t play ball, be a clown the way a lot of people dive like they’re in pool swimming you do in this league, because that’s obviously how you get on penalties. “.
But perhaps the core of Mourinho’s frustration lies in the knowledge that Roma missed a golden opportunity. With Juventus in crisis and both Milan clubs making disappointing starts to the season, Serie A has rarely felt so open.
Atalanta’s victory in the Italian capital climbed to second place behind Napoli on goal difference. Udinese has an eye-catching presence in third place while Lazio moved undetected – perhaps under the hood of Maurizio Sarri’s smoldering cloud – to fourth.
Sunday’s result was even more infuriating as it came with Roma’s best performance of the season so far. Their victories were narrow and unconvincing while Mourinho’s side lost 4-0 to Udinese two weeks ago.
The big three of Italian football are likely to reassert their dominance during the winter months. But after an ambitious summer in the transfer market that included the signing of Paulo Dybala, there are growing expectations about Roma this season.
Their next league match will be outside Inter Milan. If Mourinho manages to win it, Roma fans will start dreaming of their first Serie A title since Gabriel Batistuta’s glory days.
But, of course, he would not be allowed to chase the touchline at San Siro on this occasion. The landscape will be much poorer because of this fact.
Written by Michael Lee