Club Focus - Inter - Inter show why they are the champions of Milan
There have been an awful lot of words said before, during and especially after the Derby della Madonnina. But away from all the sniping and conspiracy theories, in footballing terms, the last word, as ever, went to José Mourinho: "Inter were spectacular on a tactical, physical and psychological point of view and right from the start it was obvious we were stronger."
The Rossoneri have enthralled in recent weeks, largely fuelling neutral optimism that the more fragrant of the Milanese giants would end the league monopoly attained by its superiors. Milan's freewheeling style, encapsulated by some glorious Ronaldinho showings, has almost created a void in reality, a despairing hope that good will prevail over perceived evil. But this is Serie A, where only the strongest survive, and as Signor Mourinho observed, the strongest were, and are, Internazionale.
Il Diavolo's rapid start to the decade lends a lazy route into the worn euphemism about marathons and sprints, and as la Beneamata and Mourinho have consistently proven, they remain a mightily impressive combination at accumulating points over the whole duration, a fact emphatically reaffirmed yesterday. Despite the ground share, this was Inter's home fixture and no visiting team has usurped Mourinho in the league for over eight years now, and even before Wesley Sneijder’s dismissal the protocol did not look like being disturbed. The focus of the Nerazzurri's play had the hallmark of champions - they started with a purpose and a conviction, which belied the differing forms of the two sides coming into the fixture. It was a reassertion of masculinity, of inner-city pride, of superiority. They may flatter to deceive at times, enthral few and win the hearts of even less, but in domestic football, Inter are peerless.
Unfortunately, it seems that Mourinho and President Moratti believe the powers that be are trying to instil some parity to proceedings. In his post-match de-brief the Special One could not resist implying undue conduct from the officialdom: "I have already understood they won't let us seal the Scudetto. The officials do everything to stop us winning." It was a typically full-blooded riposte from the Portuguese Coach, and whilst Moratti skirted the issue with a little more diplomacy, both directly expressed a view that foul play from the referee's were trying to depose Inter of their title.
It is an unfortunate trait of Mourinho that he requires so much attention. His remarks will certainly command a large proportion of the press when his players deserve maximum credit for their endeavours. Indeed, he himself should be applauded for tactically stifling Milan, yet many column inches will devote themselves to yet more refereeing controversy which only ever seems to taint games. It probably was not a first booking for Lúcio, a red for Sneijder or a penalty and a second red card (to the Brazilian defender), but ask any smaller club if they get a fair share of the whistle against the big boys and the answer will be unanimous. This is an attack and counter-attack which has been argued by clubs on both sides of the divide for years, and one which has equal substance. Mourinho's remarks will probably lead to the league inviting him to HQ for an explanation, the secondary effect of course is on Inter's reputation, which does not seem to ever advance under José's stewardship. What Mourinho does not appear to understand is such insolence can grate inside, as well as outside of the club. This was a factor which led to his demise from Chelsea, as Roman Abramovich was keen to project a positive image both on and off the pitch for long term gain - connotations Mourinho does not always subscribe to. However, given the context of the situation and the nature of the opposition, he shall be forgiven, but, the next instance will not be far away, and support less forthcoming.
So then, now the dust has near enough settled, the Interisti can view the Serie A standings with satisfaction as the Nerazzurri sit nine points ahead of their neighbours, albeit having played a game more. Next on the agenda is Thursday's Coppa Italia quarter-final against the car crash that is Juventus. Ahead of that and the impending transfer deadline the club are still in talks with Lazio regarding the possible double acquisition of Aleksandar Kolarov and Cristian Ledesma. The Biancocelesti are holding firm on a bid for Serbian left-back Kolarov and are holding out for an inflated fee, plus the inclusion of a couple of academy players. The murky situation with Ledesma's contract could be resolved before it goes in front of the league's arbitration panel at the end of the month. Lazio have already been stung by losing Goran Pandev to the champions for nothing, so may decide to cash in on the Argentine midfielder for a nominal fee.
Inter may not be the most popular team around or have the purists purring, but this weekend has demonstrated the unquenchable thirst for success which is the hallmark of champions, and until somebody comes close to replicating their consistency and conviction, the Scudetto will remain in the blue half of San Siro.
Inter Club Focus 2009/10
Another Scudetto for the Nerazzurri? - August 18, 2009
A stuttering start, and a Portuguese explosion - August 25, 2009
It’s derby time - August 28, 2009
A wonderful derby but the champions of Europe are waiting - September 1, 2009
All is well for la Beneamata - September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Friendlies, injuries and stolen boots... - September 7, 2009
Nerazzurri look to the future as Ibra looks back - September 11, 2009
Inter get a point, but that’s not the point - September 18, 2009
They never had a problem with ugly wins - September 22, 2009
Partenopei are beaten Black and Blue - September 25, 2009
Blucerchiati run rings round Inter - September 29, 2009
Champions League? You’re having a laugh - October 2, 2009
I’d rather be lucky than good - October 6, 2009
The international break - October 6, 2009
International Week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)
Transfer Talk - October 13, 2009
Back to Genova - October 16, 2009
The Puzzle continues - October 20, 2009
What next? - October 23, 2009
Papering over the cracks - October 27, 2009
The pressure is on as Inter almost throw it away against Palermo - October 30, 2009
Judgement day awaits - November 3, 2009
Just in time - November 6, 2009
A draw with Roma, but things look good - November 10, 2009
Back to the day job - November 20, 2009
A Messi situation - November 24, 2009
It was embarrassing - November 27, 2009
José gets ruffled - December 1, 2009
Derby d’Italia - December 4, 2009
It could be worse - December 8, 2009
Disaster averted - December 11, 2009
A missed opportunity? More for them than us - December 11, 2009
Resolutions - December 18, 2009
How do you solve a problem like Mourinho [does]? - December 22, 2009
Grazie Marco - December 29, 2009
Inter transfer rumours beaten black and blue - January 5, 2010
Mario Balotelli, hero and villain - January 8, 2010
Wesley Sneijder: the human get-out-of-jail-free card - January 12, 2010
A potentially beastly decision - January 15, 2010
Bari wasn’t great, Milan must be better - January 19, 2010
Derby della Madonnina and Jermaine Jenas? - January 22, 2010
Inter show why they are the champions of Milan - January 26, 2010