Jose Mourinho has dismissed any notion of a dressing room bust-up as “a total lie”, insisting his squad are happy with his methods in the wake of reports claiming he told his players they have “no balls” after losing to Inter in the Coppa Italia.
Roma were sent crashing out at the quarter-final stage last week as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at San Siro.
Goals from former Giallorossi striker Edin Dzeko and Alexis Sanchez gave the reigning Serie A champions a comfortable victory, with Mourinho left contemplating yet another defeat to one of the top clubs in Italy.
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What's been said?
Post-match headlines were dominated by reports that the Roma boss lambasted his players in the dressing room, questioning some for their lack of courage while declaring that others belong in Serie C.
Mourinho has yet to confirm or deny what was actually said, but is adamant he still has the full trust of the squad and that he won't change his managerial approach.
“From the stories I've heard, some might have been expecting me to arrive here with a black eye and a swollen face because of all the punches – that's a big lie,” he told reporters ahead of Roma's clash with Sassuolo on Sunday.
“The story that came out of a breakup between me and the players is a total lie. We talked after the game, analysed and worked on those errors. That is how I work.
“The players told me they are happy with my working methods. There are no secrets between us, I say things to their face and I invite the players to engage in a dialogue.
“Everyone told me they don’t want me to change, so I told them I will not change. You talk about it as me letting loose frustration, but do you think I shouldn’t reproach [Roger] Ibanez, [Rick] Karsdorp, [Gianluca] Mancini or [Chris] Smalling?
“Now ask me questions about Sassuolo or I am leaving.”
Mourinho was also asked to address comments from Sassuolo coach Alessio Dionisi suggesting that Roma have a slight advantage due to boasting better technical players in their ranks.
He responded curtly: “If anything, Sassuolo have much more quality and technique than my team. They can play out from the back with their defenders, I can’t do that.”
Mourinho under pressure
Mourinho was handed a three-year contract when he inherited the managerial reins at Stadio Olimpico last summer, but it has been suggested that he is already on borrowed time.
Roma have slipped to seventh in the Serie A standings after 24 matches and only have the Europa Conference League left to play for in terms of silverware.
A defeat against Sassuolo could leave the Giallorossi's chances of Champions League qualification up in smoke, and Mourinho could be on the lookout for a new job once again unless he can oversee a swift turnaround in fortunes.