Jose Mourinho took full responsibility for Roma’s humiliating 6-1 defeat to Bodo/Glimt but pointed at the ‘limitations’ in his squad after the Europa Conference League humbling, suggesting he only had 13 players of real quality.
Roma had a 100 per cent record in the competition ahead of this evening’s Group C clash and the Special One decided to ring the changes, with the match being played on an artificial pitch in Norway.
The Serie A giants, heavy favourites at the Aspmyra Stadion, fell behind to an early Erik Botheim goal and Patrick Berg doubled the hosts’ lead with a wonder strike in the 20th minute.
Carles Perez pulled a goal back just eight minutes, but Botheim completed his brace to put the Norwegian minnows in the driving seat just after half-time.
Ola Solbakken netted a late double and Amahl Pellegrino also got on the scoresheet to pile yet more misery on Roma in a one-sided final 20 minutes and the Italians rarely threatened to reduce the deficit as the clock ticked down.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was the first time ever that Mourinho – managing in his 1,008th game – had seen one of his teams concede six goals in a single match.
‘I decided to play with this line-up, so the responsibility is mine,’ Mourinho told Sky Sport Italia shortly after the final whistle.
‘I did it with good intentions, to give an opportunity to those who work hard and to rotate the squad on a synthetic pitch in cold weather. I decided to rest many players.
‘We lost against a team that showed more quality on the night. It’s that simple.
‘If I could always play with the same XI, then I would. It’s risky, because we have a huge gap in quality between the two groups of players.
‘I knew the limits of this squad, it is not new to me, but I still expected a better response.
‘As I said, it’s my choice to play them, so my responsibility.’
Mourinho hopes the embarrassing scoreline silences those who have been questioning his team selections this season.
‘Every defeat does damage. I spoke to the players and was honest. I was honest with them, I cannot be honest with you,’ the former Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid boss added.
‘I never disguised the fact we were a squad with real limitations. We have 13 players who represent one team, the others are on a different level.
‘At least the positive thing from now on is that nobody will ask me why I always use the same players.’
Roma play host to Serie A leaders Napoli this weekend and Mourinho knows his players will have to go into the Stadio Olimpico clash with the right ‘mentality’ to come away with a result.
Looking ahead to the clash, the Portuguese said: ‘Our main team is playing well and to have the right mentality. We will play with that mentality on Sunday.
‘We had already said some things in private before the 6-1 defeat. This result won’t make me say that in public.
‘I will continue to say it in private, without advertising our internal issues.’