Straight from the dark heart of Italy
RESULTS Sat Feb 20 Genoa 3-0 Udinese, Internazionale 0-0 Sampdoria Sun Feb 21 Atalanta 0-1 Chievo, Bari 0-2 Milan, Bologna 1-2 Juventus, Cagliari 2-0 Parma, Fiorentina 2-1 Livorno, Palermo 3-1 Lazio, Roma 1-0 Catania, Siena 0-0 Napoli
Only Jose Mourinho could grab the headlines without having to open his mouth.
The press have been having a field day in the wake of the Special One’s ‘handcuffs’ gesture during Saturday evening’s game against Sampdoria.
It came after Inter had been reduced to nine men a mere 39 minutes into the game – and has been widely perceived as a sign from the Portuguese that he understands that there will be no escape to victory in the league.
It could also be seen as a “come and spring me” plea to Real Madrid or whichever English Premiership club are seeking an upturn in their fortunes.
No one wants a see a return to the days when the referee could either be a twelfth man or twelfth opponent depending on one’s influence, but Mourinho has alluded to such goings-on with heightened fervour of late.
There was last weekend's spot-kick for Juventus against Genoa, which had him musing why the penalty area was extended to 25 metres for one team; the penalty against his side at Bari; the penalty appeal turned down at Napoli; the Wesley Sneijder red card in the derby.
The list of grievances goes on and on, but it's a two-way street: Mourinho’s motives will always be questioned here in Italy and many observers would like nothing more than for Carlo Ancelotti to put the acid-tongued one in his place for once and for all.
NEWS, Sat Feb 20: Inter staff shun press after controversial game
Even if Chelsea do overcome Serie A’s best team it seems highly unlikely that Mourinho will stop sniping at his adopted country of employment, but he must be careful that his backbiting at all things Italian will not be his undoing.
There's no doubt that Wednesday’s game is weighing heavily on Inter minds and the players who took the pitch against Sampdoria did so with enough pent-up aggression to suggest that maybe the pressure is actually getting to them.
The fact that Walter Samuel swung an arm towards Nicola Pozzi is neither here or there, but the reality that the home defence was scattered to the four winds on the counter-attack suggested that minds were not totally focused on the task in hand.
Ivan Cordoba was culpable for his own demise when he floored Pozzi minutes after being booked. From there on, what should have been an intriguing encounter was nothing short of farce at times – and another less than brilliant advert for the Italian game.
When Inter did deem to return for the second half some five minutes late, they had the look of hounds scenting blood. Any sympathy for their plight soon disappeared, so long and vociferous were the protests that followed every decision taken by referee Paolo Tagliavento.
Gamesmanship won out over sportsmanship and Sampdoria were never going to turn their numerical advantage into three points. That's not to suggest that the visitors eased off, more the fact that unlike say Juventus or Roma they did not have that built-in assurance and confidence to take what was rightfully theirs.
NEWS, Sat Feb 20: Nine-man Inter draw with Sampdoria
Mourinho played his part, once more whipping the home fans into frenzy with his guffaws and the pointed finger that for the first time in Italian football history produced a ‘panolada’ of white handkerchiefs or – in keeping with the lowbrow nature of the event – tissues from the fans to wave down scorn (or the flu bug) on the official.
Tagliavento lost all semblance of control as he failed to reduce Inter to eight men when Diego Milito deserved his marching orders for flailing at Angelo Palombo, but in a plea for mercy he then sent Giampoalo Pazzini packing for a more innocuous challenge.
The upshot is that Mourinho’s unbeaten home run has now reached 130 games during spells at Porto, Chelsea and Inter, but that feat is becoming ever more preserved in bile and rage.
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He could maybe, just maybe, be forgiven for his tedious histrionics IF his teams played champagne football; however they don’t, they are generally on the browner side of turgid. Therefore please shut up you abhorrent little man.
To say the ref lost control is mis-placed. As a Juventino it hurts to admit but Mourinho was simply brilliant here. Not only did his touchline performance take the heat & focus away from his players (as he always tries to) he managed to oversee one of the most amazing tactical displays of recent years while putting on such a show for the cameras.
The fine & ban are inconsequential when weighed against the psychological boost gained by the point won here against the odds.
Inter didnt hold off Doria, they attacked after halftime to the extent they actually domianted the game.
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