DES KELLY: Inter boss Mourinho is happiest in the role of panto villain...

22 February 2010 02:11
Jose Mourinho and Chelsea have very few surprises in store for one another this week, but the Inter Milan manager still served up a timely reminder of just how difficult he can be.

Wherever he is in charge, whatever the odds, Mourinho always moulds a team who are notoriously tough to overcome.

Two red cards reduced Inter Milan to nine men for nearly an hour of a petulant encounter with Sampdoria. With a familiar theatrical flourish, Mourinho was so incensed he gestured to the crowd that the decisions of the referee had slapped him in handcuffs.

Forever connected: Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho comes face-to-face with former club Chelsea this week

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'How do I feel? I feel proud,' said Mourinho later. 'This was good for morale and good for team spirit. It's eight years now without a defeat at home in domestic competitions, championships and cups.

'To celebrate the anniversary with this match, in these circumstances, and for our team spirit to survive the way it did is great.'

The result preserved Mourinho's impressive record of never having lost a home game since 2002, a sequence that stretches back through his time with Porto, Chelsea and now Internazionale.

Those impressive statistics are a measure of the task facing Carlo Ancelotti and Chelsea in the San Siro on Wednesday night.

'To lose here in the Italian game, we would need to be left with six players on the field,' said Mourinho, not even bothering to conceal his scorn for his Serie A rivals.

'I said the same thing when we beat AC Milan with nine men and I'msaying it again now. But we won't beat Chelsea with nine players.'

Mourinho does, however, perceive a resolve and sense of purpose atInter that could give him the edge over the Premier League leaders.

Tussle: Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o (right) battles with Luciano Zauri

'InEngland it is never easy, you can lose any game, but when a team isalways strong, strong, strong,' he repeated for emphasis, 'then itdoesn't lose many matches or so many points.'

Mourinho may have been making an oblique reference to the four awaydefeats Chelsea have already suffered under Ancelotti, no doubtrecalling how he lost just once on the way to the first of his twoleague titles at Stamford Bridge.

Old friends: Jose Mourinho celebrates winning the Premier League title with Chelsea players Frank Lampard (left) and John Terry (right)

Marching orders: Referee Paolo Tagliavento sends off Inter defender Ivan Cordoba

But although the result on Saturday night was a psychological boost for Inter, the strain of playing for 53 minutes with nine men was far from the ideal preparation Mourinho would have wanted.

'My players feel very tired, very tired,' he admitted. 'Samuel Eto'o was running miles and miles for one-and-a-half hours on his own up front.'

As a football spectacle it was a dismal affair. As a pantomime, it had much more to commend it. Players from both sides spent the majority of the match fouling one another or rolling around in mock agony.

Inter's Argentine defender Walter Samuel was shown a red card for elbowing Nicola Pozzi in the face as he closed on goal. Central defender Ivan Cordoba was dismissed for two bookable offences, before Sampdoria's Giampaolo Pazzini was sent packing by the referee midway through the second half.

Italy now waits to see if Mourinho can translate his domestic dominance into Inter's first European Cup triumph for 45 long years.

Never mind pretend handcuffs, that is a real ball and chain. 

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Source: Daily_Mail

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