Inter Milan midfielder Dejan Stankovic is aiming for a repeat treble ahead of his team’s Champions League opener away to FC Twente on Tuesday.
The holders, who also collected the Italian league and cup last season, were given a tough draw in group A alongside Tottenham and Werder Bremen.
But last season’s success has allowed a certain confidence and ambition to grow at Inter, who until the arrival of Jose Mourinho were known for flopping in Europe.
Mourinho may be gone now after two successful years but he and his influence is not forgotten.
“He really is the Special One. Even when you’re dead on your feet and you can’t go on, as happened in the last two or three months of last season, he gets you to give 130 percent,” said Serbia captain Stankovic.
“And he always makes you feel on form and ready. He was on the bench but it felt like he was on the pitch.”
Rafael Benitez has taken over at Inter but so far the performances have not been up to scratch.
Inter were beaten 2-0 by Atletico Madrid in the European Supercup before drawing 0-0 at Bologna in the league and just scraping a 2-1 home win over Udinese.
But Stankovic believes the Spaniard just needs time.
“We’re a great team and we have to be aiming for another treble,” he said.
“It’s important to win when you’re not playing well which is what happened against Udinese.
“Benitez is really hungry for success and we have to accept his way of working. We’re on the right track but just like Mourinho in Madrid, he needs time.”
Stankovic is a major doubt for Inter in Holland while Thiago Motta is definitely out but Benitez hopes to have Maicon back after the Brazilian full-back missed their first two Serie A games of the season.
Another problem for Benitez is trying to get the best out of forward Diego Milito and Samuel Eto’o, who have yet to click this season.
He even substituted Milito against Udinese with the Argentina striker kicking a bucket in frustration as he walked to the bench.
Eto’o meanwhile scored the winner but only from a rebound when his poor penalty had been saved by Samir Handanovic.
Benitez has continued Mourinho’s system of playing a 4-2-3-1 formation with Milito as the lone striker and Eto’o flanking Wesley Sneijder with either Goran Pandev or Jonathan Biabiany on the right.
But the Spaniard said he hasn’t yet had enough time to impose his own ideas on the team.
“It’s not yet my Inter because there’s not much of me in this team. I need time but we’ve had too many breaks and there’s things we can improve,” he said.
“Eto’o can play wide or in the centre. But bringing him closer to the goal means making a change which isn’t possible right now given how little time I’ve had with the players.
“Right now he’s playing wide and he’s scoring. As for Diego he’ll get off the mark, I know that.”
Inter have at least had a reasonable start to the season with four points from two matches that leaves them in touch with the front runners and ahead of major title rivals AC Milan, Juventus and AS Roma.
Twente, the Dutch champions, may have lost coach Steve McClaren to VfL Wolfsburg in Germany but they have proved they are still competitive and are closely following leaders Ajax and PSV Eindhoven.
However, this will be their debut in Europe’s elite competition and it remains to be seen how they adapt to the step up in class.
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