Jose Mourinho’s Roma were already without a number of players for their weekend meeting with Genoa, and the manager has suffered another setback after two of his players returned positive Covid tests.
Back-to-back losses before the international break had seen Roma drop out of the top four in Italy, but they would have fancied their chances against their relegation-threatened visitors before the double setback.
Now, though, Mourinho has made his feelings very clear after being forced into changes with the game just around the corner.
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Roma’s defeat at Venezia in their last league game was another blow for a team struggling to cope with a growing injury list.
Leonardo Spinazzola remains sidelined with the injury he picked up on Italy duty at Euro 2020, while Chris Smalling has been out of action for the last month.
Cristante is a particularly big loss, with the Italian international having made more than 20 appearances for club and country this season.
“All the work we did over the week and that your sources told you about, that’s all gone in the bin,” Mourinho said in his pre-match press conference, as translated by Football Italia.
“I think it can be a good opportunity for us to see which of you reporters really are smart. Only I know who will play tomorrow. Not even my assistants know. Your sources are of no use today.
“It all happened so quickly this morning, we didn’t even manage a training session.”
Shevchenko is making his bow as a club manager, but the former AC Milan striker – who also played under Mourinho at Chelsea – was in the Ukraine dugout as his team reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.
“He did well with Ukraine, proving he has a clear philosophy of football,” Mourinho said of the 45-year-old.
“He’s a calm leader, because he’s a calm person.
“I would love for him to experience what I did at my first game as a coach: I lost, but then won many trophies later on.”
While Roma have fallen to sixth with their recent defeats against Milan and Venezia, they remain some way ahead of their weekend opponents.
Genoa parted ways with manager Davide Ballardini after winning just one of their first 12 games, acting quickly to appoint Shevchenko as his replacement.
If the Ukrainian is able to win in his first game, he can help lift the club clear of the bottom three.