Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Pride comes before the fall and Inter are in danger of tumbling over the precipice thanks to an ever-deepening rift between Jose Mourinho and Mario Balotelli.
It seems more than likely that one or the other will depart the club at the end of the season.
Apparently the Portuguese apologised for snapping the youngster’s necklace in the wake of a heated discussion when the player refused to take in a few laps of the pitch at the end of a training session when ordered by one of the coach’s assistances.
However, there has been no act of contrition coming in the other direction and there lies the problem.
What usually happens in Italy when an argument gets out of hand is that it may seem as if all-out war has been declared but by the time you arrive on the scene the respective parties are acting like long-lost family members.
"What have I told you about wearing the same scarf as me?"
Both will have admitted their guilt and everyone would have moved on for a cup of coffee.
This is plainly not the case between little dictator and troubled teen hence the former’s exile which has now extended to six games following the latest snub for tonight’s Champions League tie with CSKA Moscow.
If Mario would just issue a statement along the lines that he has been acting like a big kid and all that business about donning a Milan shirt for the television cameras was just a bit of fun, but of course not in keeping with a serious professional, which of course he will strive to be now, then with remorse comes forgiveness.
That is the Italian way, but unfortunately, that does not seem likely especially now that Dutch-based uber-agent Carmine “Mino” Raiola has taken over the player’s affairs.
The little Mr Percentage seems to be reportedly inflaming the situation even more by encouraging his client to demand that Mourinho make a public stand-down.
The lippy lad did just that when he called a chat show where Giovanni Trapattoni was appearing to state that he was not for turning after the Ireland coach had voiced concerns that the player could become another “lost talent” of Italian football much like Antonio Cassano.
"What the fu....actually, you're quite a big fella, never mind..."
Massimo Moratti has so far kept a haughty distance for the whole affair, but with the title race no longer a foregone conclusion, the president dispatched sporting director Marco Branca to mediate and finally bring an end of the ever-widening impasse.
Of course, Moratti may have to step into the line of fire and send a decree calling for a halt to all hostilities coupled with a carefully-worded peace-document that saves face for everyone.
The Portuguese would probably prefer to sing the Fado wearing a Milan shirt in front of Duomo than ever admit he was in some way at fault.
After all, one of his central pillars is the team before the individual, so how will this saga play out?
Well, it would seem that Raiola will be the one to benefit – either he negotiates a massively-improved contract for his charge at Inter or peddle the lad around Europe’s elite clubs.
After all, that was the reason Zlatan Ibrahimovic employed him and the Swede is doing nicely on €15 million a year at Barcelona.
Balotelli’s current deal runs until 2013 and there is a two-year extension waiting to be signed with €2.5 million salary on the table.
Not bad for a 20-year-old but apparently Raiola has already sounded out Manchester City - where of course the man who gave the player is big break, Roberto Mancini currently resides – and Arsenal – with whom Inter would like to do business so they can get their hands on Cesc Fabregas.
Of course, another plausible scenario is that if Mourinho lands the Champions League he will make a grand exit, leaving everyone’s honour intact.
In the meantime, the team have a crucial week ahead but that seems the mere mundane day-to-day life compared with the intrigue at Court of Inter.
I would be more concerned about Mourinho leaving than Balotelli to be honest. The teen looks like a train wreck waiting to happen. Kalac, the former Milan keeper, was talking on Australian TV this morning about how over the top Balotelli was when they played each other. If he doesn't wake up pretty soon then I think Inter should call those clowns at Man City and take them for every penny they can get. If he goes to Arsenal as part of the deal for Fabregas that would be great but I can't see the Spaniard going to Serie A. He will surely end up in Barca. As for the game Inter did quite well. They should have buried CSKA in the second half though and it will still be tough to go through. What odd's now there is no English team in the semi's with Arsenal outclassed and Rooney injured?
Mourinho will come back to England and was a great manager. The english love a big ego remember Brian Clough!
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