Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Jose Mourinho has saved his job for another couple of weeks.
Well, it isn’t that dire of course, but the pressure has been on the Portuguese.
The honeymoon period is long gone and the reality of daily life married to the demanding Italian press seems to have already worn the “lippy one” down somewhat.
Sky Italia employed a “Jose watch” during the game against Bologna on Saturday – the camera homing in on his face for tell-tail signs of mid-game meltdown.
"Who said that? Who's there?"
No such luck: no tics, twitches or involuntary spasms to report, just a few more lines and maybe a hint of darker rings under the eyes. Nothing a few days away from media duties wouldn’t fix.
Still scribbling in that little note-book though, although he still had his wits about him to literally keep it close to his chest whenever he sensed another close-up.
Thank goodness then for something on the pitch to catch the eye.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored what has to be the goal of the season in Italy and without exaggeration probably the best goal for many a season.
It’s doubtful Kung Fu icon Bruce Lee could have produced a more stunning waist-high back-heel, to send an opponent flying through a wall, as the Swede did with the ball.
Probably better to catch it on YouTube…
"How the hell did I do that?"
Ibra produced a similar feat before when he scored for Sweden against Italy at Euro 2004 and, of course, the extravagant flick was the stock in trade of his former coach Roberto Mancini.
No surprise that Zlatan practised a bit of taekwondo when he was younger.
There was another knockout blow down in Rome where Simone Inzaghi, of all people, ensured Lazio did not slip off top spot going into the international break.
The goal-shy striker, who had not found the net for four years and had spent most of the season banished to train with the youth side, came on as a late substitute to score the equaliser against Lecce.
His face was a picture to behold as he ran back to the halfway line, mouthing a few sweet nothings in the direction of coach Delio Rossi: naturally annoying must be a family trait.
"I scored!... I SCORRRRRRRRED!"
Bad day all round for Juventus and AS Roma who both lost and finished their games a player down - in Roma’s case, two.
Juve had Mohamed Sissoko sent-off and the problems they faced in midweek in Minsk – sluggish defence and lack of invention in midfield - were exploited by a lively Palermo.
Ranieri should be one starting to worry that he is next for the chop, and if reports are to be believed, former defender Ciro Ferrara is the dressing room favourite to take over.
Meanwhile, lack of discipline continues to dog Roma.
Luciano Spalletti could only stare at the ground as first Philipe Mexes talked himself into a second yellow card at Siena and was quickly followed by central defensive partner Christian Panucci for a reckless challenge.
Couple that with AC Milan drawing at bottom side Cagliari and the weekend’s shocks were just the perfect pick-me-up Jose needed.
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