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Rediff.com  » Sports » Mourinho ups the ante with another Inter triumph

Mourinho ups the ante with another Inter triumph

Last updated on: May 17, 2010 12:55 IST

Inter have become more of a passing team

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Inter Milan sealed a fifth straight Serie A title thanks to the quick integration of new signings and coach Jose Mourinho's tactical nous, which may now lead to other clubs trying even harder to secure his services.

This season's Inter, who now head to the Champions League final seeking an unprecedented treble for an Italian club, are radically different to the side, which Mourinho guided to the scudetto in his first season in charge last term.

Then they often relied on long balls to striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic but since his departure to Barcelona last July, Inter have become more of a passing team but with the same immense physical strength and rock-hard defence.


Image: Javier Zanetti lifts the trophy after Inter won the Serie A title
Photographs: Reuters
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'I don't think I'm a phenomenon'

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Mourinho has been his usual controversial self, locked in a battle with the Italian media and soccer establishment who have struggled to come to terms with his outspoken character.

Amazingly for someone so talkative, he even stopped doing domestic news conferences for three months because he was so frustrated with the criticism of his emotive behaviour.

But in the sanctuary of Inter's training ground Mourinho has a very different relationship with his players and portrays himself as a worker bee, buzzing about for the good of the team.

"I don't think I'm a phenomenon, but I have worked hard to help my team. I have never cried, I have always worked hard to get results with my players," Mourinho said.

Despite his commitment during the season, media reports say he could be leave for Real Madrid in the coming weeks and Mourinho has admitted it is not certain he will stay.

It is easy to see why he would be so sought after having won a league title, which was much trickier than last term's triumph.


Image: Jose Mourinho

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New players have settled quickly

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Samuel Eto'o, Diego Milito, Thiago Motta, Lucio and Wesley Sneijder all arrived and all became important regulars.

Mourinho brilliantly turned the loss of Ibrahimovic into a positive by broadening Inter's style of play and interchanging between two men upfront and a three-pronged attack as needs arose, with Goran Pandev's arrival in January also helping.

The 4-0 thrashing of AC Milan in August was the first example of how the new players had settled so quickly and it was plain sailing at the top of the table until February.

Eto'o struggled slightly but it did not matter as Milito banged in goal after goal and inventive playmaker Sneijder showed how hasty Real had been to show him the door.


Image: Diego Milito with the trophy

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'We have full confidence in ourselves'

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A sudden rush of draws in February slashed their nine-point lead and a bruising defeat against title rivals AS Roma in March meant the path to the scudetto was out of Inter's hands.

Mourinho did not panic and his players rewarded him with superb displays in reaching the Champions League final, winning the Italian Cup and seizing control of Serie A again.

"We have full confidence in ourselves and now we have this great manager and he can transform the team in any way," midfielder Sulley Muntari said.

In truth, luck also played a big part in the title triumph. Roma had gone 25 league games unbeaten until a 2-1 defeat at Sampdoria last month which Claudio Ranieri's side dominated.

That result gave reinvigorated Inter the chance to retake the lead and they never looked like losing it again.


Image: Inter Milan players celebrate after winning the title

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Mourinho's team were just too good

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Even fresh evidence in the criminal trial into Italy's 2006 match-fixing scandal, which implicated Inter for the first time, failed to knock the Nerazzurri off their stride.

They denied involvement but a probe is looking at whether they should be stripped of their 2006 scudetto, which they only gained originally because first-placed Juventus were demoted.

More controversy followed. Roma cried foul when Lazio fans, hoping their city rivals would miss out on the title, cheered when their own side were beaten 2-0 by Inter earlier this month.

Lazio players said they had been trying to win to end lingering worries of a shock relegation but admitted that when Inter went ahead there was little they could do.

That was not because of skulduggery, it was simply because Mourinho's team were just too good.


Image: Inter Milan players celebrate on a bus after their title win

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