Mourinho sets Inter out to fend off siege
Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho has been cultivating his favourite seige mentality at the Serie A leaders ahead of Sunday's trip to Udinese.sports Updated: Apr 04, 2009 18:32 IST
Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho has been cultivating his favourite seige mentality at the Serie A leaders ahead of Sunday's trip to Udinese.
Inter lead second-placed Juventus by seven points with just nine matches remaining but Mourinho is taking no chances and has been trying to wind up his Italian league counterparts while motivating his own troops.
In an interview on a popular television show the former Chelsea manager poured scorn on the achievements of his rivals and claimed Italian media favour Juve and AC Milan.
As he settles in for the title run-in and the crucial potential title-decider against Juventus in Turin in two weeks time, Mourinho has been in typically cantankerous mood.
"Many coaches have won the Champions League more than once," he said of Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti's two European crowns, "but only one club (Milan in 2005) has lost a final after leading 3-0."
Even Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson didn't escape Mourinho's ire.
"Ferguson has won it twice but he's 68. In 23 years time we'll see how many I've won."
If that wasn't enough, Mourinho also claimed that the media support his main rivals.
"We have the Inter Channel with it's 45,000 subscribers, Juve have (sport newspaper) Tuttosport and Milan have three TV stations and the newspapers," he said. "I feel a bit like Robin Hood."
It is a tactic that Mourinho often used at Chelsea and one with which Ferguson has also attempted to galvanise his Manchester United players, creating a feeling that the world is against them.
And it could not come at a more opportune moment for Inter who are in the midst of a defensive crisis that looks set to force Mourinho to once again play his holding midfielder Esteban Cambiasso at centre-back.
The loss of marauding Brazilian rightback Maicon for the rest of the season is another blow and means Mourinho will either have to move captain Javier Zanetti back from midfield or give disgruntled left-back Maxwell a starting berth and switch teenager Davide Santon from left to right.
However, Udinese's attacking options have been severely hit by a nasty knee ligament injury suffered by Antonio Di Natale last Saturday in Montenegro that could rule him out for the rest of the season.
Earlier in the campaign this fixture would have been seen as a potential stumbling block for a top team as Udinese were early Serie A pace-setters.
However, their form dipped alarmingly and they have won only three of their last 20 league matches, although they are Italy's only remaining representatives in Europe.
Juventus's match at home to Chievo looked a lot easier a month ago as the 'flying donkeys' propped up Serie A for most of the season.
However an incredible March saw them win three and draw one in four matches and suddenly Domenico Di Carlo's side no longer look a soft touch but instead appear to be more durable opponents.
A trip to Juve and then the visit of Milan in their next two matches will put that theory to a stern test.
Milan for their part are still trying to tie up third place to ensure direct entry into next season's Champions League group stages and they host lowly Lecce.
Ancelotti himself has become very focused on that objective in recent weeks and even dismissed Mourinho's jibes.
"I don't talk about him, I don't respond to what he says," said Ancelotti. "The aim is to get back into the Champions League and to go through a season very different to this one. We have to finish in the top three."
First Published: Apr 04, 2009 18:30 IST