Jose Mourinho Shows Trust in Roma Youngsters After Empoli Win

After navigating his side to a comfortable 2-0 win over newly-promoted Empoli at the Stadio Olimpico, Jose Mourinho admitted he is ready to shape up a new era at Roma. The Giallorossi returned to winning ways in Serie A following a 3-2 defeat to cross-town rivals Lazio in last weekend’s Derby della Capitale.

Roma bounced back against Zorya in the Europa Conference League, claiming an overwhelming 3-0 victory in Ukraine. But Mourinho’s men have prioritized domestic football, so beating the league newcomers Empoli popped up as a must-win fixture. 

Despite creating very few clear-cut chances in the opening 45 minutes of play, Roma took the lead in the first half through Lorenzo Pellegrini. The captain, who signed a new long-term contract yesterday, picked up a fine through ball from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and curled it past Guglielmo Vicario to hand his side a slender half-time advantage. 

Just three minutes into the second half, Mkhitaryan pounced onto the rebound to double Roma’s lead. Tammy Abraham forced a turnover in the danger zone and unleashed a devastating effort that came off the cross-bar. Luckily, the Armenian star was in the right place at the right time to send the ball into an empty net from point-blank range.

Mourinho made several squad rotations to the team that faced Lazio last time out. The 20-year-old midfielder Ebrima Darboe took Bryan Cristante’s place in the double pivot, making his first Serie A start of the season. Meanwhile, Chris Smalling returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Roger Ibanez. 

Short of experienced go-to options on the bench, Mourinho introduced a couple of up-and-coming youngsters in the second half. While the highly-rated left-back Riccardo Calafiori replaced Matias Vina, Nicola Zalewski came on for Mkhitaryan. It hasn’t been the first time that the ‘Special One’ opted to give Roma’s academy graduates a chance to taste senior football, as Mourinho admitted his side lack experienced players.

Darboe is a good player, he’s young, he works hard, we don’t have lots and lots of experienced, fully-formed players in our squad, so we have to help form them, making players like Darboe, Calafiori and Zalewski,” he said, as relayed by PagineRomaniste

“Cristante played constantly to bring stability to a side that I changed a great deal. Ibanez played all the time too, they both needed a rest.”