It was widely reported yesterday that when Jose Mourinho officially takes the reins at Inter he will ask club president Massimo Moratti to launch an audacious transfer bid for three of his former Chelsea players.
It is believed that Mourinho, who is likely to have a transfer fund of around sixty million pounds, is targeting Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Ricardo Cavalho.
Lampard is yet to sign a new contract with Chelsea, Drogba has been telling anyone who could be bothered to listen that he wants to leave Chelsea and Ricardo Cavalho has followed Mourinho before when he left Porto for Chelsea. On that basis, it is quite possible that the three of them could join their former boss at the San Siro.
Inter, who have parted company with Roberto Mancini, are the current Serie A Champions after securing the league by three points just a couple of weeks ago. This was their third successive league triumph after a barren period of some seventeen years. You could say that the good times have returned to Inter, so why do they need the Ã¢â‚¬ËœSpecial oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ and half a new team?
The reason a new boss is required is because success in European competition is essential for a club the size of Inter. They havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t won the Champions League in forty-three years and havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appeared in a final for thirty-six. In the lesser competition, the UEFA Cup, Inter last won the title in 1998. That is not acceptable to Moratti and it is not acceptable for the legions of Inter fans.
In the forty-three years since Inter were kings of Europe their city rivals Milan have triumphed on six occasions and Juventus twice. For Italian football in general this seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Champions League with only one team in the quarter-finals and none in the semi-finals was a unprecedented disaster. Inter will see it as their duty to put that right next season as they enter the tournament once again as national champions.
The question Moratti had to ask himself was whether he thought Mancini was capable of taking the club to European success. He has been InterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most successful coach for many years winning two Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana, alongside the three league successes, but he has never looked likely to bring the big one home to the San Siro.
In 2004-05 Inter were humiliated by Milan in the quarter finals. In 2005-06 it was the quarter finals again as they lost to Villareal on away goals. In 2006-07 Inter only made the first knockout round going out again on away goals, this time to Valencia. It was this seasonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s tame defeat at the hands of Liverpool in the first knockout round that would have been the final straw for Massimo Moratti.
Of course, Mancini initially stated that he would be leaving at the end of the season after that defeat to Liverpool, but once someone pointed out that he wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be entitled to any compensation if he resigned, he changed his mind and has forced Moratti into making a decision.
Is it likely that the self proclaimed Ã¢â‚¬Ëœspecial oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ can turn around InterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fortunes in EuropeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most prestigious competition? His track record domestically is second to none and he has had European success, but twice he has fallen short with a team that, on paper, probably should have won the competition or at least made the final.
Famously, Mourinho took unfancied Porto to a Portuguese league title and UEFA Cup double in 2002-03 and followed that up with another title the following season and a hugely unlikely triumph in the Champions League.
He left Porto for Chelsea that summer and then proceeded to take them to two successive Premier League titles, their first in fifty years. However, with the backing of Roman AbramovichÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s billions, the team Mourinho assembled should have been capable of repeating the success he had with Porto. 2004-05 saw semi-final defeat against Liverpool who they had finished thirty-seven points ahead of in the Premier League. In 2005-06 they met Barcelona in the first knockout round and lost to the eventual winners. In 2006-07 they lost on penalties to their old foes Liverpool in the semi-final. In that season, Chelsea had finished fifteen points ahead of their opponents domestically.
There is no doubt that Mourinho is a special manager and he has an aura and magnetism that draw the media, players and fans towards him. There is no doubt that he has the ability to succeed at the very highest level.
I do, however, doubt whether he can transform the Milan side that looked so ordinary against Liverpool into a side capable of seriously competing for the Champions League. He may do it, but by bringing in a whole group of Chelsea players who have played for him in Europe and not succeeded, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think he has found the answer.
You either love Jose Mourinho or hate him. I come down on the side of loving him as I think he is a great character to have involved in the game. As to whether or not he really is the Ã¢â‚¬â„¢special oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, a Champions League win for Inter next year would go a long way towards proving he was right.
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