By Mark Duckworth of The National Game
Inter Milan may have won the Champions League on Saturday night, but as Jose Mourinho led his Inter side around the Santiago Bernabeu for a lap of celebration, you got the feeling that it wouldn’t be long until Mourinho is back, but not with Inter Milan.
Mourinho may have just won Inter, their first treble, but I feel that still won’t be enough for Inter to keep the Special One, and with Mourinho’s love hate relationship in Italy, it looks like this is another marriage that will end in tears.
The final itself was rather a dull, disappointing affair when you consider what both sides had achieved to get this far, but it was dull because that is what Mourinho wanted, and it was his only way of stopping and starving Robben out of the game and he did that with consummate ease. Robben may have been Bayern Munich’s best player on the night, but on far too many occasions Robben was left isolated and alone and as he tried to twist and turn his way into space, Inter just got in his way. In fact Mourinho was that scared of the flying Dutchmen he tried tackling himself, this would have been a test of match-referee Howard Webb’s bottle, had Mourinho made contact with Robben in the first half.
But just as Mourinho was edging closer to the pitch, Inter were finally starting to find their feet, and on the 35th minute finally broke the deadlock. The goal wasn’t pretty and more route one than anything else, but as Diego Milito latched onto the return pass from Sneijder the Argentinean striker made no mistake.
In now typical Mourinho fashion, Bayern were kept waiting for the second half, and it was a plan that nearly backfired as Bayern walked through the Inter backline only to be denied by the excellent Julio Cesar. That was Bayern’s really only decent team move of the second half. As the pattern followed the first, and Robben was at the center of every attack. He almost scored a wonder goal; sick of crossing into the box, he tried to curl the ball into the other corner of the net, but was denied by another excellent save by Cesar. Cesar would have probably been handed the man of the match award if it weren’t for the brilliant Milito. There have been some special goals and performances in this season’s Champions League, but Milito’s top them all. After a good advantage by Howard Webb, the now selfless Samuel Eto’o fed Milito, who Daniel Van Buyten turned inside-out before coolly finishing in front of his adoring fans.
This final may not have been as exciting as the past few, but that is because the Special One didn’t want an end-to-end final, because the pace of Bayern would have probably destroyed his aging midfield and back four.
So what next for Inter? Well although Mourinho hasn’t yet officially left, the signs are for him to be out of the exit door and through the entrance of the Bernabeu. Is this a bad thing? Well maybe yes, it all depends on who replaces the Special One. Mourinho has shown this side how to win on the biggest stage and that could be worth more than any manager and player. Inter also have a good squad and with Milito pledging himself to the club, along with Eto’o then Inter could be at the start of a new glory era.
For Mourinho it looks as if his Italian marriage has come to an end, and with the bottomless pit of money at Madrid, I expect the divorce to be expensive and painless. And with the victory on Saturday; which saw him become only the third manager to win the Champions League with two different clubs, Mourinho can expect to add a few zeros to his contract.
Mark Duckworth is a contributing writer for The National Game. His column appears on The Soccer Guys courtesy of the National Game.