Of all the memorable quips throughout José Mourinho’s illustrious career, there is one that still echoes back toward him. Famous soundbites nominating himself as “The Special One” and “not Harry Potter” immortalized him in the banter Hall of Fame, but in 2018 with Manchester United, after an early-season loss to Spurs, he issued a measure to his career. 

“Hegel says, ‘The truth is in the whole,’” Mourinho said with his trademark arrogance. 

Citing one of the founding figures of western philosophy in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the soundbite answered whether he could still consider himself “one of the greatest managers in the world.” His point: Look at the entire portrait, not just one snapshot before you judge a career. 

Since winning the 2016–17 Europa League, Mourinho endured the longest stretch of his career without a trophy, leading to questions about when such a turbulent snapshot would become the whole portrait. But after a promising start and a sixth-place finish at AS Roma last year, it is his second season in the Italian capital that could provide more clarity on how such a proclamation applies to his career. 

While the curse of the sophomore slump shrouds sports figures, Mourinho’s success has been defined by his second season. The Portuguese manager has won the league title five times in his second season with a club: Porto in 2003–04, Chelsea in ’05–06, Inter Milan in ’09–10, Real Madrid in ’11–12 and Chelsea again in ’14–15. It’s not a guarantee, of course. Highly anticipated stints with Manchester United and Tottenham weren’t as glorious.

But after delivering AS Roma its first trophy in 13 years with the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League title, there is reason for Giallorossi fans to be optimistic heading into the upcoming season. Add what appears to be a successful transfer window to the formula, and optimism starts to bleed into excitement as Roma chases its fourth Scudetto and first since 2000-01.