Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Congratulations Inter, you deserve the title. You were the best of a pretty rotten bunch.
It will not go down as a vintage year for Serie A, and at times there was more excitement witnessing Jose Mourinho single-handedly take on the media than watching the action on the pitch.
The Portuguese coach’s first season in Italian football saw him put in a brave but ultimately futile quest to change the unchangeable.
July shone brightly and full of hope as the new man arrived, tanned and relaxed, with the simple remit of retaining the domestic title and winning the Champions League.
Anything seemed possible for a man who possessed a striking command of Italian from his first day in charge, but the search for the Holy Grail in Europe would prove as torturous for Mourinho as it had for his predecessors.
Of course, lying in wait were not only the rest of Serie A but the notorious Italian media, ready to dissect and analyse every utterance that cometh out of the new man’s mouth.
He certainly didn’t disappoint, coming to verbal blows in his first live post-game television interview following the opening-day draw at Sampdoria.
“Wasn’t much of a start, was it Mr Mourinho?” came the question, followed by a yawn-inducing critique on what had gone wrong during his first 90 minutes.
“I don’t think I'm the type of person for this type of post-game analysis,” came the reply from a man who was just beginning to understand what he had let himself in for.
It was downhill from there on through the month of September as he fell out with Catania, AC Milan and, of course, Claudio Ranieri before trying to attempted to duck the press altogether by sending out his No.2 Beppe Baresi to face the questions.
The plan backfired, as he was then accused of showing a distinct lack of disrespect for the media and Italian football to boot.
Self-censorship - or yawn-stifling?
You can’t win, Jose, but at least his side were top of the table come the onset of the first chill in the nights.
But the relationship got icy early in 2009 as Inter lurched around like a drunken reveller.
Seemingly exasperated with one and all, our man turned his ire towards his own players following a dismal display at Atalanta in January.
“You won the first title in a court room, the second because there was no opposition and the third at the last minute. You’re s***,” he was quoted as telling his team.
He was certainly becoming a cult hero – for Juventus followers at least – and a pain in the neck for his peers.
More barbed comments about Claudio Ranieri’s inability to learn English were followed by a jibe that his Juventus nemesis, Carlo Ancelotti, and Luciano Spalletti would all end the season empty-handed.
The “zero titles” remark came during a seven-minute tirade in which he delivered the infamous line: “I don't like intellectual prostitution, I like intellectual honesty,” which could only be interpreted as an attack on the media who had sold themselves to an anti-Inter agenda.
"Find out what it means to me..."
Unfortunately, these slights were all delivered before he had actually won everything, and much was the mirth when Inter went out of the Champions League at the first knock-out stage.
Although Mou took the defeat on the chin, the storm suddenly abated.
Apart from the odd cloudburst of a comment, the run-in to the end of the season went as calm as Lake Como on a summer's day – coincidentally, the view from Mourinho’s villa retreat.
Even as Inter fans and players prepared to party long into the night to celebrate winning the league, the Special One was in muted mood – already planning a defence of the title and another tilt at Europe.
“I need a new central defender who can bring the ball out and a couple of physically strong midfielders,” he sniffed to the gathered press. “I'm not going to say who we are after just yet.”
No doubt the papers will fill in the blanks during the coming months.
In the meantime, Mourinho may not have conquered the press rooms, but he has another title to add to his four from Portugal and England, four domestic cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League crown – in seven full seasons of management.
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