Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Jose Mourinho isn’t a man you’d usually associate with getting as far as possible from media attention. But this hasn’t been a usual week.
Tatarstan, home of Inter’s Champions league opponents Rubin Kazan, is probably as far as one can get from the centre of European football, but it’s perfect for Mourinho to escape the Italian media – and in particular television.
The Portuguese was at his most irritable following Inter’s Saturday loss at Sampdoria.
When dragged in front of the cameras to give his views on the game, he was as sour as month-old milk.
NEWS: Samp stun Inter
The barely-hidden feeling was that he was there against his will to satisfy contractual obligations – which isn’t in fact true: there is no official contract between clubs and TV for coaches to appear, although it’s expected.
Much less expected are comments so caustic that they make the whole thing an ordeal hardly worth repeating on a regular basis.
While many coaches trot out the same old clichés, Jose can never be accused of being banal, but when he is downright rude, what is he providing to the overall analysis of the game?
The questioners – or, as our man sees them, the prosecution – can press all the right buttons so when the name of Luigi del Neri was mentioned as a bete noir, having got one over Mou once again just as he had with Atalanta, the reply was as hyper-sensitive as a car alarm at 3am.
Poor old Del boy replaced Mourinho at Porto but was soon shown the door – something the Special One took great delight in pointing out.
“My bete noir?” he hissed. “He can’t be, I won the Champions League and he was sacked after two weeks.”
And with that reproach ringing around the studio, off he trotted to the Urals before you could say “Christmas card list.”
Mourinho’s mood may have been lightened somewhat with the news that Juventus could only draw at home to Bologna thus leaving Samp as the sole leaders – something that won’t concern the champions too much.
NEWS: Juve blow chance to go top
The Old Lady definitely had Munich on their minds; missing enough chances to put the game beyond doubt before the hour mark, they were then caught on the hop deep into injury time.
So that’s just one victory from the last four games for Juve and the hoots of celebration could probably be heard all the way from central Russia.
It was cantankerous weekend all round, with AS Roma and Catania duking it out like two irate motorists in rush hour.
There’s some history between the teams and when the capital-city visitors grabbed an unlikely draw with almost the last kick of the game, the scene was set for the usual pushing and shoving, heated words and the odd red card.
Loose talk was also the order of the day in Naples where the tetchy Aurelio de Laurentiis was lightening the mood by ruing the day he ever employed Roberto Donadoni.
In fact, he was lamenting the fact that his sporting director Pierpaolo Marino had ever talked him into replacing dear old Edy Reja.
On being informed just ahead of the Siena game that he was no longer the blue-eyed boy, Marino had a few choice words on the subject – so the movie mogul edited his supporting man out of the ongoing soap opera live on television.
It’s difficult to say whether De Laurentiis had been led down this confessionary route in the heat of the moment, or if he too was using the medium he understands so well, for his own means – probably the latter.
Whatever, such outbursts ensure that the television remote control was always to hand over the weekend. All the better to follow the comedy channel where AC Milan now reside.
Even watching lame Leo’s lads labour at home to Bari made for great Sunday evening entertainment: plenty of goalmouth action, some fine goalkeeping at both ends and the sight of Ronaldinho and Clarence Seedorf’s long faces when their numbers were called in.
It ensured the weekend ended just as it started – with sour-faced underachievers getting out of the media glare.
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