Straight from the dark heart of Italy
If there were any lingering doubts over why Jose Mourinho feels he needs to get under everyone’s skin, then the press conference ahead of this weekend’s season opener nailed his modus operandi.“I have heard my enemies sounding off recently and this pleases me,” he informed a hushed press room at Inter’s training camp before leaving the statement hanging in the air.In Jose's George Bush-like world it is a case of “you are either with us or against us,” and seemingly there are “enemies” at every turn.Ciro Ferrara – for you will become an enemy because you coach the enemy – Marcelo Lippi, Luciano Spalletti and all the rest, you have been warned.New campaign, same old Jose then…The champions were as sullen as the late-summer weather when they stepped out to face newly-promoted Bari at the San Siro on Sunday evening.It took the big, bad boss man all of 25 minutes to make his first change when he withdrew Sulley Muntari, later explaining that the poor fellow had been so ineffectual because he had been fulfilling his religious obligations by fasting during the Muslim month of Ramadan. In fact, it was only the combination of the free-falling Diego Milito, who feeling the merest breath of a defender on his neck tumbled to the ground like the first leaf of Autumn, and the incompetence of the referee for awarding the penalty, that gave Inter the lead. The away side were too shocked to argue and Samuel Eto'o too embarrassed to celebrate after dispatching the spot-kick for his first goal in Italy.
Maybe that's why he went on to put a free effort in front of goal wide, but welcome to Serie A Sammy. There are sure to be a few more gifts on offer whenever your side are at home. However, there is some justice in this mean old world and Vitali Kutuzov - who started his career across town at AC Milan - fired home the equaliser after Lucio and Marco Materazzi had lumbered up-field. In fact, the visitors should have won it at the death, and the only noise at the final whistle were the pounding of feet of the Nerazzurri faithful as they quickly disappeared into the fading light while the rest of Italy chuckled heartily. Leading those guffaws were Juventus and Milan, who overcame tricky openers to get their seasons off to winning starts.Solid rather than spectacular was the order of the day, which is not a surprise as the opposition was Chievo and Siena respectively, two sides not noted for open football.Diego certainly looked the real deal, but it would be unfair to jump to the conclusion that the Brazilian will be the 'New Zidane' as has been suggested in some pro-Juve quarters.One thing is certain though, Amauri will be flicking his tangled mop in anticipation of the service from his compatriot if he can get on the end of the sort of free-kick that Vincenzo Iaquinta headed home for the only goal of the game.And what about Milan's Thiago? From persona non grata last season to the man set to keep the midfield ticking over in an unruffled manner.Maybe Ronaldinho will be another fallen star set for a renaissance – well he certainly will be if the opposition decide not to mark him.Siena gave the former golden boy of world football all the room he could ever have dreamt of to weave a bit of the old magic.
And he duly did so, having a hand in both goals with Pato popping up in perfect Pippo Inzaghi mode to find the net on each occasion. But really Milan should be wiping the floor with teams such as Siena, whose players are like those summer waiters scurrying around resort restaurants, ferrying food to the masses.
You only need to be able-bodied to do it.Serving up more of a treat were Palermo, Napoli, Genoa and Roma.Palermo coach Walter Zenga is already claiming his side can be within touching distance of the title after the Sicilians overcame Napoli, who it has to be said could have grabbed all three points themselves if it hadn’t been for some disastrous defending.The same goes for Roma, who were forced to play Nicolas Burdisso after the defender made a mad dash from Milan to Genoa a mere 24 hours earlier to sign a loan deal.He may not have been that familiar with his new team-mates, but at least the Argentine knew the man he was marking... former Inter team-mate Hernan Crespo.Little good it did him as the “hardest working side” in the league scored three and in doing so unearthed two more gems: midfielder and scorer of a wonderful free-kick Alberto Zapater and the man with a strange braid monstrosity growing out of the side his head, Rodrigo Palacio.All in all, a positive start and the signs are that Ibra and Ricky will not be missed, especially if Antonio Cassano and Mauro Zarate keep tying defenders up in knots. It’s the Milan derby next weekend and Jose is already in combative mood, claiming the media will be building his city neighbours up while dismissing his own side.He can carp away as usual – and entertaining, in part, it may be - but the feeling is that the real talking and entertainment will be done on the pitch this season.
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