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Mourinho's defining moment nears

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Phil Minshull | 12:24 UK time, Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Strange as it may seem, Inter Milan's Champions League semi-final second leg at Barcelona on Wednesday may ultimately be viewed as a defining moment in Jose Mourinho's career.

If Inter progress after their 3-1 win in the first leg, the Italians will start as the favourites when the final takes place on 22 May and Mourinho will have a fantastic chance to deliver what he couldn't do at Chelsea.

However, if Inter lose in the Camp Nou - and a 2-0 win for Barcelona is certainly not an unthinkable scenario - he might then be regarded as a failure, possibly by many Inter fans and perhaps also by himself.

It seems rather begrudging to say that 'The Special One' could be considered an under-achiever after twice winning the Premier League while at Stamford Bridge and also the Serie A title last season.

He is closing in on a second successive Serie A crown, too. Inter lead Roma by two points with three games remaining after the latter's shock 2-1 loss at home to an inspired Sampdoria.

However, it is the Champions League which Mourinho and Inter fans crave. A second success, after winning with Porto in 2004, will give the Portuguese's career the validation it needs and present him with another chance to savour victory on Europe's top stage.

He was unable to do that first time around, famously leaving Porto for Chelsea before being able to celebrate the triumph with his team and fans in the Dragao.

Jose MourinhoJose Mourinho faces one of the biggest nights of his career in the Nou Camp on Wednesday

"I won the Champions League trophy but I never had time to touch it, I just kissed it," he said, upon his arrival in London. "I didn't have time to have my photo taken with it, that's why I want to win it again."

It did not happen during his time at Stamford Bridge but it may with Inter.

Joining the Nerazzurri in the summer of 2008 after a nine-month sabbatical, Mourinho revealed: "The challenge for me is simple. I always want to do well, always want to win. I don't need anybody else to establish the challenge for me."

He stopped short of promising outright to Inter fans that their glory days in Europe would return and they would finally regain the bragging rights from local rivals Milan.

However, winning the Champions League has clearly been top of his agenda. The last of Inter's two European Cup triumphs came in 1965, while their last appearance in a final was back in 1972.

By contrast, Milan have won two of their seven European titles in the last decade and also made a third final, that unforgettable game against Liverpool in 2005.

Inter's failure to match Milan in recent years ultimately cost Roberto Mancini his job, despite three successive league titles.

If Inter fall short on Wednesday, it could result in Mourinho being encouraged to leave the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, even if Moratti has to pay off some or all of the remaining two years of his contract.

Mourinho is widely believed to be the world's highest paid coach. A salary of €9.5m a year puts him in the unusual situation of being paid more than any of the players at Inter, including the likes of Samuel Eto'o.

Curiously, if both Inter and Bayern Munich fulfil the bookies' predictions and make the final, it could bring about an intriguing clash of personalities in the next few weeks.

Much has been written about Mourinho's relationship with Barcelona, but, if Inter and Bayern face off at the Bernabeu on 22 May, it will be the first time he has faced his former boss from his time at the Nou Camp, Louis Van Gaal.

Mourinho was Van Gaal's translator and assistant when the Dutchman became Barca boss in 1997 but, as an unwanted leftover from the regime of Bobby Robson, found himself surplus to requirements the following summer.

I wonder if Van Gaal has read the interview that Mourinho gave to Champions, Uefa's official magazine, in the summer of 2004 after taking over at Chelsea?

"During the day I worked as a loyal assistant but I arrived home to my wife a critic. I'd go on about how Van Gaal does this and if it were me, I'd do that," said Mourinho.

You might interpret Mourinho's comments as an admission of backstabbing during his last season at Barca, and certainly that's a word I recall being used in some of the Spanish media upon his departure.

At the time of the interview, Mourinho probably never imagined that one day he would be on the same side of the field as Van Gaal, just a few metres apart in their respective dugouts.

For the record, if Mourinho or Van Gaal were to win the Champions League it would make them the third member of a very select group.

Ottmar Hitzfeld and Ernst Happel have been the only coaches so far to win European crowns with two different clubs.

Hitzfeld did so in the Champions League with Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and then Bayern Munich in 2001. Happel led Feyenoord to victory in the European Cup in 1970 and then did the same with Hamburg in 1983.

sc_getty595.jpgThe talented Sergio Canales could be used as an understudy to Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid next season

Comments on the blog in the space provided. Other questions on European football to europeanfootball@hotmail.co.uk. I don't need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.

Here's a couple from the postbag.

Q) We hear more and more about under-rated players like Darren Fletcher and I was just wondering which European player you consider to be the most under-rated and which player you consider to be most overrated? Lukas Roper, Bristol, England

A) To be honest, to talk about who is the most under-rated European player is an impossible task. How do you define under-rated for a start? There are some fantastic players in the lower leagues of Spain and Italy doing great jobs for their clubs and there are also players over-achieving for relatively modest clubs in the top divisions. A good example of the latter in Spain would be Deportivo goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia or Mallorca striker Aritz Aduriz.

To show how difficult it is to answer such a question, let's move the analysis up a level.

The May edition of World Soccer has an article on "the unsung heroes, surprise packages and relative unknowns who could make all the difference in South Africa". Among the Europeans mentioned are Italy's Antonio Candreva and Portuguese goalkeeper Eduardo.

In my humble opinion, one of most over-rated European players, and I'll stick to those playing outside Britain, is possibly Germany and Real Madrid defender Christoph Metzelder.

He might have had a few decent games for Borussia Dortmund early in his career but, even taking into account his injuries, I've never understood why he is often mentioned as being one of the world's best central defenders.

Q) Sergio Canales has agreed to join Real Madrid (which I think is a bad move for someone so young to move to a club of that proportion) next summer of course but how good do you think he is/can become? Do you reckon he'll get a chance at Real Madrid?
Shahin Patel, London

A) A lot has been written about Canales. His potential is unlimited, especially as he's still only 19. Canales could be used next season as an understudy to Cristiano Ronaldo. If that happens, he'll get some occasional minutes as a substitute in La Liga and Spanish Cup games.

However, it's highly likely that he'll be loaned straight back to Racing for a season. This is widely believed to be one of the key points of the contract. After that, who knows what Real Madrid will look like and whether he will be wanted back at the Santiago Bernabeu. A lot changes in 12 months, nowhere more so than in Spanish football.

Comments

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  • 1. At 1:28pm on 27 Apr 2010, weezer316 wrote:

    Canales is utterly class, if a touch wayward at times. ahe really should have went to barca or valencia as they would likeely give him the chance Real simply wont, at least not while ronaldo/kaka/benzema and co are around. Would be a shame if such a talent ends up guarding the real drink bottles in his mid twenties.

    Good blog though :-)

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  • 2. At 1:30pm on 27 Apr 2010, MCCOURT_THE_LEGEND wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 3. At 2:04pm on 27 Apr 2010, DevilOfRed wrote:

    I don't understand why half the players go to the revolving doors of Real Madrid, nevermind the young ones.

    They all seem to leave after a season or two, and it's not like the club is that succesful anymore anyway (in the Champions League at least).

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  • 4. At 2:25pm on 27 Apr 2010, CrabPeople wrote:

    I don't know anyone who has ever rated Metzelder as one of the world's best defenders.

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  • 5. At 2:26pm on 27 Apr 2010, Mikey wrote:

    Seems a bit over the top for the press to have used 'backstabbing' for that comment.. Van Gaal probably had different ideas from the coach he learned his trade from too..

    What I find strange is how Mourinho got his break.. if he worked as a translator did he do coaching badges at the same time or had he coaching experience before this.. I have always found it to be an unusual part of his CV..

    Phil what you have said of Metzelder is exactly how I feel about Franck Ribery.. I recognise him as a good player but I don't feel he is anywhere near the 30mil + rating or the anywhere near the 'world class' label..

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  • 6. At 2:29pm on 27 Apr 2010, Tori_torres8 wrote:

    David beckham is the most over-rated player,even today when his career is practically over.

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  • 7. At 2:46pm on 27 Apr 2010, Tori_torres8 wrote:

    A loss at hands of barca shouldn't mean that Jose is a loser or anything else. Inter was never a truly european team even at their heights. Taking them upto the semi-finals itself is an achievement. Whatever happens on thursday night barcelona are a team no-one else can think of beating at their own backyard. Jose had shown his charisma already in the first leg by beating this barcelona side with a scoreline even the best manager would have not thought about. How rarely are they beaten that way. Only few times by real madrid and rarely in european competitions. Why hiddink did last year is the limit of what a tactical manager can do against the bests. But if inter went on to manage to sneak through to the finals,the limits will be expanded. The world is watching and its again the destructor vs destroyer. I think jose have enough in his squad to take the game to barca. Don't be amazed if 'the matrix revolution' starts on thursday. Good luck inter. Hope you'll give away the league to roma if you guys are in the cl finals.

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  • 8. At 2:51pm on 27 Apr 2010, Tori_torres8 wrote:

    And by the way,it seems CL is much intriguing and competitive this year,for not a single english team could sneak into the semis. No disrespect intended to the most competitive league.

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  • 9. At 3:20pm on 27 Apr 2010, Bergysdeftflicks wrote:

    If Inter beat Barca it will be well deserved im sure, but the prospect of Inter v Munich in the Final tie is hardly a mouth watering one.

    For what its worth i feel that Munich's name is as good as on the C L trophy this year, so the vain one will miss out.If it shuts up the media from drooling about him in the UK as theyve done for about 6 yrs we will all owe a debt of gratitude to Van Gaal. Its frankly pathetic.

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  • 10. At 3:51pm on 27 Apr 2010, JoC wrote:

    There's little doubt Mourinho has the midas touch - what odds Van Gaal's 'translator' beating his former master in the final in Madrid's own backyard just to rub salt into Barca's wounds? God must be smiling kindly on the 'Special One' especially after Roma's shock capitulation in SerieA over the weekend. Hope it had nothing to do with Ref this time heh? ;) (only kidding)

    Mourinho isn't completely fallible though - the stress is catching up with him a bit with that Gandalf look (pic). Personally, I'd prefer a Lyon or Bayern victory in the final or the 'White Wizard' might really become unbearable.

    Phil, do you think Canales will be taking the famed no.7 shirt off a departing Raul in the Summer (The King is dead..long live The King)...or will CR7 take it?

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  • 11. At 3:56pm on 27 Apr 2010, Aaron Bell wrote:

    Since when has Christophe Metzelder been considered one of the worlds best defenders? He's hardly ever mentioned in Spain where he plays let alone other countries!! You're supposed to be giving us an insight into European football man!! whereas you appear to be around 7 years behind the rest of us! Nobody has mentioned Metzelder for years!

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  • 12. At 3:58pm on 27 Apr 2010, Oneness wrote:

    How on earth do you interpret Mourinho's comment:

    --- "During the day I worked as a loyal assistant but I arrived home to my wife a critic. I'd go on about how Van Gaal does this and if it were me, I'd do that," said Mourinho. ---

    as backstabbing?

    It's just a comment describing how his own coaching ideas were developing.

    He said it to his wife - not the club's owner!

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  • 13. At 4:09pm on 27 Apr 2010, Shahin wrote:

    Further to my question to Phil, I think Canales is making a big mistake personally. Other highly rated talents such as Gago and Reyes were at a similar age to Canales but have ultimately flopped due to various reasons. Other more experienced players such as Van Der Vaart and Sneijder (who is quality) have also been on the periphery at Madrid. It's a poorly run club with constant changes from top to bottom causing major disruption year in, year out. Maybe they can learn a thing or two from their fiercest rivals Barca in terms of humility, courage, respect, faith and most of all, beautiful football. Barca are truly 'mes que un club'...more than you can say about Real Madrid.

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  • 14. At 4:57pm on 27 Apr 2010, Stevat wrote:

    #3, people join Real Madrid because they are historically the best football team in the world. Who wouldn't want to be mentioned in the same breath as the players who have graced that team?

    The press bandwagon has perpetuated some very anti-Madrid feeling in the UK since the transfer of Ronaldo. People seem all too willing to jump on that bandwagon and castigate them for buying expensive players, but the likes of Man U, Chelsea and to a lesser extent Liverpool have done exactly the same over the years. They have as many home grown players in their team as any I just mentioned. The fact that they haven't a youth system as celebrated or productive as Barcelona's isn't a criticism in my mind, how many can even come close?

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  • 15. At 5:03pm on 27 Apr 2010, alanm07 wrote:

    Agree with mikey about ribery being over-rated, when i have seen bayern this seaso its robben who impresses me most.

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  • 16. At 5:19pm on 27 Apr 2010, My Car Is a Lemon wrote:

    Just to correct you, the highest paid manager in the world is Felipe Scolari, currently coach Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan. It's been reported that the Gene Hackman has been earning over 13 million pounds a year there.

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  • 17. At 5:34pm on 27 Apr 2010, jchubeta_aBridgeTooFar wrote:

    However, it is the Champions League which Mourinho and Inter fans crave. A second success, after winning with Porto in 2004, will give the Portuguese's career the validation it needs"
    ____________________________
    Phil, I disagree with the 2nd part of your statememt. As rightly pointed out above, if Jose loses against Barca tomorrow, it would not diminish his greatness. He has already proved that he is an excellent man-manager, motivator and tactician, a throw back to the great Italian managers of the mid 80s to 90s. Where Mourinho excels above many, is his ability to make ordinary or underachieving players out-perform themselves and play for him. He also knows how to set his team up to play. In world football, there are an elite group of managers that have won either the world cup or the Champions League. Some have won both like Marcelo Lippi who I believe is one of the best managers in the world. Mourinho has won the Champions League and also titles in 3 different countries. Some of his critics point to the vast amount of money spent at Chelsea, but even if that ridiculous arguement were to hold, what about his record at Porto where he won the UEFA Cup, and then CL the following year with the likes of Deco, Alanitchev, Carvalho, Maniche, Ferreira, then all virtual unknowns.

    No matter the outcome at the Nou Camp tomorrow, JM would not be short of offers where he to decide to leave Inter. Arsene Wenger for all the plaudits he gets, has never won the CL, and he will be the first to admit that it is a gap on his CV, never mind all the dietary and physical fitness innovations he accredited with. Rikjaards and Gaurdiola's Barcelona, Hollands's 88 team, Brazil's 70 WC team and Spain Euro 08 team prove that you can play football that mesmerises the purists and also win trophies. Jose Mourinho's name deserves to added to the illustrous list that includes names like Van Gaal, Capello, Lippi, Saachi, Hiddink.
    His first season in Chelsea was phenomenal; Chelsea were simply unbeatable, and their points haul that season was a record. They only lost one game, shy of Arsenal's unbeaten record.

    Speaking of underrated players, I would say Drogba. Sure he gets plaudits, but if he were English, he would get far more. He can take freekicks with astonishing accuracy, he defends well, he is a brilliant header of the ball, he has a decent first touch for a big lad, he has exceptional technique. Peep the control for the cross that Lampard scored from against Stoke, and the turn around and smash volley against Liverpool at Anfield some years ago. He also scores lots of goals despite not being the penalty taker for Chelsea. He performs on the really big games, he is strong, pacy. In my opinion, should have been Player of the Year. If he played for a team like Arsenal or United, he would be more recognised than he is.

    I also think SAF is overrated. Not as trophy winner, but with all the supposed "mind games" he plays and wins.

    Essien is underrated. Best defensive midfielder in the World.



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  • 18. At 6:10pm on 27 Apr 2010, McEwanwhosarmy wrote:

    Metzelder's reputation is built upon the football and championship manager games where he is an excellent defender. In that case Maxim Tsigalko and To Madeira should be the best strikers in the world (Legends of Championship Manager 01/02).

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  • 19. At 6:29pm on 27 Apr 2010, AntonioSaucedo wrote:

    Overrated? All managers. I think too much attention is paid to these guys. Managers don't win games, let alone titles, players do. But managers can lose games and titles. I find Mourinho, Ferguson or Van Gaal entertaining, don't get me wrong, but enough is enough. If any of these guys were managing a money-strapped team we wouldn't be talking about them.

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  • 20. At 6:34pm on 27 Apr 2010, AntonioSaucedo wrote:

    Underrated? Perhaps Van Bommel. Didn't do well in Spain, but now he's recovered the confidence he displayed in PSV. He reminds me of Redondo a bit due to the regal manner in which he patrols the midfield. He deserves some of the attention paid to Robben and Ribéry.

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  • 21. At 6:35pm on 27 Apr 2010, georgiesthebest7 wrote:

    So Mourhino worked as a translator for Van Gaal as well as for Sir Bobby -is there no end to the man's talents? Jose himself will of course tell you No! - can't wait to see him back in the PL (probably at OT).

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  • 22. At 6:37pm on 27 Apr 2010, margaretthatcher07 wrote:

    Phil could you explain why Raúl will be leaving Real this summer? I understood he had a contract for life at Madrid which would be renewed as long as he made at least 30 appearances a season which he has indeed done again this season. He is their top scorer ever, is the Champions League highest scorer and is the top scorer ever for the Spanish national side. He is also hugely loved in Madrid and Spain as a whole where you will see everyday t-shirts branded with the number 7 despite being nothing to do with football. Surely Perez will not sell El Capitan?

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  • 23. At 7:12pm on 27 Apr 2010, Ross wrote:

    To the guy at number two - epic fail, really. Sad enough to say 'first' is one thing; actually being second is just tragic.

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  • 24. At 9:00pm on 27 Apr 2010, waldovski wrote:

    "I wonder if Van Gaal has read the interview that Mourinho gave to Champions, Uefa's official magazine, in the summer of 2004 after taking over at Chelsea?"

    This is not a question, so why the question mark? Were you not listening in class in 3rd grade English?

    Why is three-quarters of the article stuff I have already heard a million times? This and Vickery's columns are supposed to be the ones that make you feel thankful the masses are reminded from time to time that football does in fact exist outside the British Isles. Instead, you tell me that Inter last won the European Cup in the 60s, that Mancini was fired for not winning the CL, that Milan lost to Liverpool in Turkey, and that Mourinho left Porto for Chelsea? Are you really trying to pass this off as European insight?

    Where's the application form for this job?

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  • 25. At 9:00pm on 27 Apr 2010, Rob04 wrote:

    #19
    I find Mourinho, Ferguson or Van Gaal entertaining, don't get me wrong, but enough is enough. If any of these guys were managing a money-strapped team we wouldn't be talking about them.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Nonsense you probably just wouldn't know about them.

    Ferguson produced one of the best young sides in Scotland in the 70's (St Mirren) on a budget of less than zip and took them into the top division. He then managed another cash strapped side (Aberdeen), took on the old firm (and won), and won a European trophy against Real Madrid!!!!! In Scottish football in the late 70's and early 80's nothing other than Ferguson and his team was spoken about. Many of the players at both St Mirren and Aberdeen went onto become established Scottish internationls. Even with a bit of cash he applied the same principles at ManU and look what happened.

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  • 26. At 9:21pm on 27 Apr 2010, Zeemo wrote:

    JM is THE most luckiest manager/person in the history of football/the world, EVER!

    Not only did he grow up, be clever enough to learn 5 languages and then become a translator.
    But he grew up to be a translator and manage to land a job at Barcelona translating between players and manager! All the time learning from the likes of Van Gaal and B. Robson!

    Did his coaching badges and hey presto, The Special One is born!

    Won the UEFA cup with Porto(I say won, but dived there way to the final, and then didn't stop there. Ask Celtic)

    Then Won the Champs League with them in 2004..again lucky with Barca, Madrid and Man U going through a transitional period, and Chelsea still learning.

    But the luckiest moment of all....came on route to that 2004 win...at Old Trafford...trailing 1-0..Scholes scores his second...clearly on-side 2-0 game over...but up comes the lines mans flag and the goal is ruled offside!!

    That was his 'sliding-doors' moment. If that goal had rightly stood, Porto go out and JM is just JM....Just another Manager.

    Lucky so-and-so......

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  • 27. At 9:48pm on 27 Apr 2010, desertwalker wrote:

    A bit off topic, but I have never understood how Ernst Happel never really was regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all time. Nevermind what he did at Feyenoord, he transformed Club Brugge from a struggling club (some team like Bolton as an example of a present day club) into a title winning side that won 3 consecutive championships and achieving a European cup final appearance, only to lose to Liverpool) and a UEFA Cup final, only to lose to Liverpool AGAIN at Anfield in controversial fashion.

    Then he gets Holland into a World Cup Final, only to lose against ze Germans. He buggers off to Hamburg and wins two consecutive championship titles with them, a European Cup and the German Cup for good measure.

    This guy has the best CV in world football.... puts Shankly's CV to shame....

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  • 28. At 9:55pm on 27 Apr 2010, buymespresso wrote:

    Will Jose really be viewed as a failure in Italy if Inter don't get to the finals? When was the last time Inter was in the semis?

    PS: Agree with Zeemo that Jose has had more than his fair share of luck. But he's also very good. Alex F also got pretty lucky twenty years ago when Mark Robins (who he never thanked) scored that FA Cup goal against Forest. Arsene got lucky when he moved from a Japanese Club (G8) to a top English club - know of any other coaches at Asian clubs who'd be trusted by the owner of a club with that opportunity?

    There are lots of very competent people in this world. There are lots of very lucky people in this world. The two overlap, sometimes.

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  • 29. At 9:59pm on 27 Apr 2010, Ryan_Scholes wrote:

    hahah... good one waldovski (#24)...

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  • 30. At 10:19pm on 27 Apr 2010, Oily1984 wrote:

    buymespresso

    Bob on to become a successful manager is first being lucky enough to get the break and then working hard and being smart enough to keep it whilst hopefully winning titles and cups.

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  • 31. At 10:22pm on 27 Apr 2010, The United Way wrote:

    What a waste of BBC money..

    You really have no clue.

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  • 32. At 10:51pm on 27 Apr 2010, AntonioSaucedo wrote:

    #25 Point taken. Something similar can be said about what Porto achieved under Mourinho. But I still think way too much attention is paid to managers in general. Footie talk should always be about the players and not their managers. We should talk about Deco's Porto, or Carvalho's Porto, and not --or much, much less- about Mourinho's Porto. He didn't play a single game and gets all the credit.

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  • 33. At 10:54pm on 27 Apr 2010, AntonioSaucedo wrote:

    # 22. Nothing major but RM's president is known as Florentino in Spain and not by his very common surname. It's like Fidel: nobody calls him Castro in the Spanish-speaking world.

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  • 34. At 10:59pm on 27 Apr 2010, over_there wrote:

    5&15: Totally agree about Ribery. When he's in the mood he works his socks off and reminds me a lot of Hargreaves (without the smile), which is no insult, but well below the multi-million valuations being thrown around at the moment.

    As for Mourinho - just brilliant. And he has added a touch of humour to the arrogance which I'm warming to. Inter could well pull this off, but if not Mourinho will have plenty more opportunities. Rubbing the salt into Chelski just makes it all the better.

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  • 35. At 00:23am on 28 Apr 2010, Gavelaa wrote:

    I'm actually fairly confident, as a football fan, that Barca can pull it off tomorrow night. They will go for it from the off and will have prepared a far more intelligent game than they did last week. At home they will also have a much faster tempo to their game that they just couldn't manage last week. Messi will not be anonymous and with Barca working on the double I can see them getting at least one goal by half time.

    Inter will sit back and invite pressure, and that will be the best tactic for them. They know that it will be very hard for Barca to break down 10 men behind the ball, and this tactic will be the better for the fact that Barca need to score 2. Attacking Barca will not work.

    I predict: 2-0 Barcelona: Ibrrahimovic 24, Messi 76.

    Inter onslaught for last ten mins but Barca hold to hold on. Inter (I think) will miss Maicon, and possibly Wesley Sneijder. Diego Milito will not see enough of the ball and will eventually tire. Last week he was effective because Inter had more of the ball than many expected, but chasing Barca shadows will ruin him. Eto'o will again make no impact.

    As for Barca I don't expect them to be at their very best, but if they string some combinations together then it should do the trick. Their best was evident against Arsenal away in the 2-2, and they will pretty much have the same line up as that game save for Milito in for Puyol. They should be confident, but so should Inter regarding their position in the tie.

    As for Mourinho, it will be no shame should they not advance. Barcelona are the better team, and it will be hard to tactically tame them at the Nou Camp, especially as I think Pep will have learned from the tactical and physical nightmare that was the San Siro first leg.

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  • 36. At 00:25am on 28 Apr 2010, U7161659 wrote:

    You really have no idea about Italian football, do you Phil?

    "However, if Inter lose in the Camp Nou - and a 2-0 win for Barcelona is certainly not an unthinkable scenario - he might then be regarded as a failure, possibly by many Inter fans and perhaps also by himself."
    Not true - have you spoken to any Inter fans? They are over the moon. Inter are finally a real player in Europe after years of faltering, they play like a team rather than a collection of mercenaries, and Barcelona's melodrama (the t-shirts, the videos etc) shows they are scared of Inter. Trust me, Inter fans are over the moon.

    "Inter's failure to match Milan in recent years ultimately cost Roberto Mancini his job, despite three successive league titles."
    No, it's the manner he went out, losing his head and resigning at the post-match press conference, plus the fact he had lost the dressing room.

    "If Inter fall short on Wednesday, it could result in Mourinho being encouraged to leave the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, even if Moratti has to pay off some or all of the remaining two years of his contract."
    Utter nonsense. It's the other way round - he's being tempted by Man City and Real Madrid and Inter are desperate to hold on to him.

    Gosh this blog is even worse than one of McNulty's...

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  • 37. At 00:37am on 28 Apr 2010, izuchukwu wrote:

    I don't mean to overlook the effort put in by Internazionale when the beat Barca, but it's a shame that UEFA allowed that game to procced. A 14 hour trip by bus is hardly what you need at this stage of the season.

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  • 38. At 05:59am on 28 Apr 2010, wigan need more fans wrote:

    At least, in terms of Serie A and La Liga sides, we get two teams with players who do not go down at the slightest indication of contact.

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  • 39. At 07:33am on 28 Apr 2010, Cameron wrote:

    Complete and utter drivel.

    "if Inter lose in the Camp Nou - and a 2-0 win for Barcelona is certainly not an unthinkable scenario - he might then be regarded as a failure, possibly by many Inter fans and perhaps also by himself."

    You are joking right ?

    As an Arsenal fan I really don't like the guy much, and probably never will.

    But asking if he will be regarded as a failure if he can't get his team past Barcelona at the Nou Camp is like asking if Sir Alex Ferguson will be considered a failure if he cant win the Premier League again this year.

    The "question" is complete and utter nonsense?

    It could actually be the dumbest comment/question I have ever read from a BBC sports "writer".

    At Porto JM won:
    1 x UEFA Champions League
    1 x EUFA Cup
    2 x Portuguese Leagues
    1 x Portuguese Cup
    1 x Portuguses Super Cup

    At Chelsea JM won:
    2 x Premier League Titles
    1 x FA Cup (vs Man Utd)
    2 x Carling Cups
    1 x Community Shield

    At Inter JM has won:
    2 x Serie A Titles
    1 x Italian Super Cup

    In 8 seasons, Jose Mourinho has won 15 cups or titles in 3 different countries with 3 different teams, not to mention his personal awards or achievments.

    And to do with the money thing, plenty of other managers have wasted plenty of other moneys, yet they do not have a CV that remotely resembles Mourinho's.

    So will he be considered a failure if Inter don't progress? NO !

    Do you want to know what failure really is ? This Blog !

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  • 40. At 07:41am on 28 Apr 2010, CharlieDontSurf wrote:

    Most over-rated player: Ibra
    Most under-rated player: Eto'o

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  • 41. At 07:46am on 28 Apr 2010, Cameron wrote:

    And just before anyone corrects me, I wrote 2 x Serie A Titles because does anyone seriously think that he won't guide Inter to the Serie A title again this season, no matter the challenge from Roma ? With JM, it's in the bag.

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  • 42. At 09:21am on 28 Apr 2010, gazzaCFC wrote:

    NO.9 how can u seriously think Munich's name is on the trophy. d winner of barca v inter has an easy final against a very defensively poor Munich side, who hav been very lucky to get to d final

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  • 43. At 10:33am on 28 Apr 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    I don't understand why half the players go to the revolving doors of Real Madrid, nevermind the young ones.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Cassillas 12 years
    Raul 18 years
    Guti 16 years
    Carlos 11 years
    Salgado 10 + years

    Thats only the ones Ive heard them talk about on sky sports, McManaman stayed there at least five years Ramos, Higuain, Gago seem to have been there a long time also. You obviously just read a few headlines to base your opinions on.

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  • 44. At 10:39am on 28 Apr 2010, DrCajetanCoelho wrote:


    We are in for a great football feast this evening. Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola are top quality football managers. Best wishes to the players and fans of Barça and Internazionale.




    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

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  • 45. At 10:57am on 28 Apr 2010, mr_hag wrote:

    39. is absolutely correct - even if JM does not get Inter to the final, he has overachieved this season.
    Getting out of a tough group, then past Chelsea, then to a 3:1 lead over one of the best club teams ever, is a very good achievement.

    JM a failure? Not in anybody's book - certainly not his own, as both his fans and foes will agree....

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  • 46. At 10:58am on 28 Apr 2010, tomefccam wrote:

    18. At 6:10pm on 27 Apr 2010, McEwanwhosarmy wrote:
    Metzelder's reputation is built upon the football and championship manager games where he is an excellent defender. In that case Maxim Tsigalko and To Madeira should be the best strikers in the world (Legends of Championship Manager 01/02).

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Haha. Made me chuckle this. Don't forget Mike Duff as the only right back to rival Cafu.

    I think Phil's comment about Metzelder is completely wrong. He is a very good defender. However he has been blighted with injuries during his career. I would compare him to a german version of Jonathan Woodgate. Tremendous player if you can keep him fit. Both made big money moves to madrid and it didn't work out. I don't think this makes either of them overrated though.

    In my mind, Mascherano or any of these "specialist holding midfielders" are all overrated. Makelele, Mike especially. What ever happened to the all round midfielder, someone who could do the defensive duty just as well as atacking. Gerrard is a great example, Essien another. If you have to play with a 5 man midfield to accomodate these holding midfielders, you are compromising your attacking strengths by playin 1 striker.

    For me, the most underrated player in History is David Platt. What this guy achieved was unbelievable. Look at his Goalscoring record at international and club level. A big game player and a goalscorer in major tournaments.

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  • 47. At 11:12am on 28 Apr 2010, Anonimo Lombardo wrote:

    Barca give their best when they play easy, without pressure. All this mounting pressure is playing in Inter's favour.

    We can be cold-blooded, we are lead by a cold-blooded coach. A charging bison can be stopped by a calm hunter with a single bullet. And we've two or three good sharp shooters.

    If we put one in, I can't see Barca scoring 3 or 4 against what I deem to be the best defense in the world.

    But as it is, a 2-0 is very much an achievable goal for them.

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  • 48. At 11:15am on 28 Apr 2010, JamesAVFC wrote:

    To Madeira - What a great shout, ahhh the old Champ man.

    Most under-rated - Pablo Aimar

    Most over-rated - Alton Towers , then John Terry.

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  • 49. At 11:25am on 28 Apr 2010, r2k wrote:

    I don't see this as a defining for JM. The man is a bit unconventional but his pedigree is exceptional - if he loses a game against what is widely regarded one of the best teams in the world (ever!) I doubt people will start questioning his credentials. By your reckoning, if he wins tonight then the final itself and ultimately winning it would be less defining despite the place it would place him in history.

    Despite this, in a final between Inter & Bayern, Bayern win in my opinion, but actually I find this quite an intriguing match up - moreso certainly than Barca v Bayern.

    As for over & under rated players I actually see Beckham in both categories.

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  • 50. At 11:27am on 28 Apr 2010, Dazz wrote:

    @26
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    At Porto JM won:
    1 x UEFA Champions League
    1 x EUFA Cup
    2 x Portuguese Leagues
    1 x Portuguese Cup
    1 x Portuguses Super Cup

    At Chelsea JM won:
    2 x Premier League Titles
    1 x FA Cup (vs Man Utd)
    2 x Carling Cups
    1 x Community Shield

    At Inter JM has won:
    2 x Serie A Titles
    1 x Italian Super Cup

    In 8 seasons, Jose Mourinho has won 15 cups or titles in 3 different countries with 3 different teams, not to mention his personal awards or achievments.

    All down to luck???? That is stretching the boundaries of logic...even for an Englishman!

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  • 51. At 11:31am on 28 Apr 2010, online_genius_11 wrote:

    I think this blog is slightly over exagerating things to be honest. How will JM be viewed as a failure if he doesn't progress to the final? He has transformed a team that normally struggles in Europe to a very competent, competitive outfit. He is not an underacheiver. CL Final 2004 says it all...

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  • 52. At 11:37am on 28 Apr 2010, CrabPeople wrote:

    3: I don't understand why half the players go to the revolving doors of Real Madrid, nevermind the young ones.

    -----------------------------------

    Firstly, Real Madrid is the most successful club of all time. It's pretty obvious why players want to go there.

    Secondly, generally if players are good enough, then they will stay at Madrid. There are some exceptions of course, Sneijder and Robben. They were good enough, but obviously, Madrid needed to sell them to balance the books after their summer spending. Sneijder form at Madrid in his final year was nothing special, with his performances affected by some off the pitch problems. On the other hand, Robben played probably half of Madrid's games. It didn't seem like a terrible decision at the time. Even now, there is no guarantee that either of them would perform for Madrid like they are doing now. Also, in my opinion, as a Madrid fan, we would not be keeping up with Barcelona in La Liga with Sneijder and Robben, like we are doing now. There is no denying that their replacements, Kaka and Ronaldo, have helped Madrid lessen the gap in quality with Barcelona.

    Finally, young players shouldn't come to Madrid? Have Higuain and Marcelo been failures at Madrid? Obviously, not all signings (of any age) work out for Madrid (or anyone else.) If a promising young player has the right attitude, like Higuain and Marcelo, and keep working hard, they make it.

    Oh, and @ Phil Minshull: I've already said it already, but still, Metzelder as your best example of overrated? Really? And Aranzubia as your example as underrated? He is good, but even if we are talking about goalkeepers in Spain, there are plenty of good ones with little recognition, such as Diego Alves (who will probably not even go to the World Cup as Julio Cesar's understudy, even though he is one of the best in La Liga). Staying on the topic of goalkeepers on La Liga, you can easily find a good example of overrated: Sergio Asenjo. Before being replaced by De Gea (an excellent young goalkeeper), he was disastrous, but every now and then he is still linked to the likes of Man U and Chelsea.

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  • 53. At 11:49am on 28 Apr 2010, Dazz wrote:

    However, it is the Champions League which Mourinho and Inter fans crave. A second success, after winning with Porto in 2004, will give the Portuguese's career the validation it needs"
    ____________________________
    Phil, I disagree with the 2nd part of your statememt. As rightly pointed out above, if Jose loses against Barca tomorrow, it would not diminish his greatness. He has already proved that he is an excellent man-manager, motivator and tactician, a throw back to the great Italian managers of the mid 80s to 90s. Where Mourinho excels above many, is his ability to make ordinary or underachieving players out-perform themselves and play for him. He also knows how to set his team up to play. In world football, there are an elite group of managers that have won either the world cup or the Champions League. Some have won both like Marcelo Lippi who I believe is one of the best managers in the world. Mourinho has won the Champions League and also titles in 3 different countries. Some of his critics point to the vast amount of money spent at Chelsea, but even if that ridiculous arguement were to hold, what about his record at Porto where he won the UEFA Cup, and then CL the following year with the likes of Deco, Alanitchev, Carvalho, Maniche, Ferreira, then all virtual unknowns.

    No matter the outcome at the Nou Camp tomorrow, JM would not be short of offers where he to decide to leave Inter. Arsene Wenger for all the plaudits he gets, has never won the CL, and he will be the first to admit that it is a gap on his CV, never mind all the dietary and physical fitness innovations he accredited with. Rikjaards and Gaurdiola's Barcelona, Hollands's 88 team, Brazil's 70 WC team and Spain Euro 08 team prove that you can play football that mesmerises the purists and also win trophies. Jose Mourinho's name deserves to added to the illustrous list that includes names like Van Gaal, Capello, Lippi, Saachi, Hiddink.
    His first season in Chelsea was phenomenal; Chelsea were simply unbeatable, and their points haul that season was a record. They only lost one game, shy of Arsenal's unbeaten record.

    Speaking of underrated players, I would say Drogba. Sure he gets plaudits, but if he were English, he would get far more. He can take freekicks with astonishing accuracy, he defends well, he is a brilliant header of the ball, he has a decent first touch for a big lad, he has exceptional technique. Peep the control for the cross that Lampard scored from against Stoke, and the turn around and smash volley against Liverpool at Anfield some years ago. He also scores lots of goals despite not being the penalty taker for Chelsea. He performs on the really big games, he is strong, pacy. In my opinion, should have been Player of the Year. If he played for a team like Arsenal or United, he would be more recognised than he is.

    I also think SAF is overrated. Not as trophy winner, but with all the supposed "mind games" he plays and wins.

    Essien is underrated. Best defensive midfielder in the World.

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  • 54. At 11:52am on 28 Apr 2010, Great_Shatners_Ghost wrote:

    jchubeta - Do you know what underrated means?

    I think in a lot of circles Drogba is considered one of the best strikers in the world. And I'm also sure that Essien is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders (He'd be my choice), so how are they underrated? Just because he's been injured for a while and therefore out of the press doesn't mean people don't rate him! *bless*

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  • 55. At 11:52am on 28 Apr 2010, 4thlion wrote:

    @46... totally agree with you on the David Platt / Udner rated theory. Class act, delivered for his country at the highest level when given a slight opportunity (WC 90). One would have to consider that the whole 'gazzamania' that followed this tournament was really why DP was not fully appreciated by the masses. Platt was my favourite player and my earliest footballing memory was that incredible 119th minute overhead kick against the unfortunate Belgians. Great stuff! I even supported Villa for a little while while he was there as captain, then he moved to Bari, then Juve and Sampdoria... winning a few cups along the way! He was a good old fashioned midfielder who scored goals a plenty! 27 in 62 for England (in 7 years)... not bad ay!

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  • 56. At 11:53am on 28 Apr 2010, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    Ah Mourinho! The defining moment in that career has long since passed I'm afraid Phil.

    That would have been in 2004 in the 1st knock-out stage of the CL against Utd at Old Trafford when a (later proven) perfectly good Paul Scholes goal was flagged offside by the linesman. Yes, they're the breaks you get in footbal but without that big decision Porto would have gone out and Mourinho would never have been on Chelsea's radar.

    On he went to the biggest open cheque book in the history of the game...read any number of managers could have delivered on that (possibly even 3 titles in a row and at least 1 CL).

    When that ended it was off to the dominant team in Italy with the main competition out of the equation following the 'scandal'.

    Mourinho is nothing but a lucky manager with a huge ego. Hopefully Barca will leave him with egg on his face!

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  • 57. At 11:54am on 28 Apr 2010, hackerjack wrote:

    Further to my question to Phil, I think Canales is making a big mistake personally. Other highly rated talents such as Gago and Reyes were at a similar age to Canales but have ultimately flopped due to various reasons. Other more experienced players such as Van Der Vaart and Sneijder (who is quality) have also been on the periphery at Madrid.
    ----------

    Sure there have been failures, but that's what happens, most young players never achieve their potential. For balance what about Higuin and Sergio Ramos, both went early, both key figures there now.

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  • 58. At 11:56am on 28 Apr 2010, pragmaticaldo wrote:

    Speculation, of course, all of it, no less interesting for that.
    2-0 should be easy for Barca.
    I suspect Bayern prefer Inter in the Bernabeu final.

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  • 59. At 12:04pm on 28 Apr 2010, Great_Shatners_Ghost wrote:

    mmmmmm ridiculously long moderation time....

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  • 60. At 12:33pm on 28 Apr 2010, SpillageIdiot wrote:

    @26

    "Not only did he grow up, be clever enough to learn 5 languages and then become a translator.
    But he grew up to be a translator and manage to land a job at Barcelona translating between players and manager! All the time learning from the likes of Van Gaal and B. Robson!"

    Mourinho's dad was a footballer, Mourinho then became a footballer, then went into coaching/management. It was after that that he became interpretor at Barca, a job which I would imagine had various other responsibilities in terms of assisting with coaching.

    Totally agree that he's lucky to have had those opportunities but I don't think you're giving the guy enough credit for what he's achieved mate. And I'm sure there's plenty more to come!

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  • 61. At 12:58pm on 28 Apr 2010, Virtuet wrote:

    Also, in my opinion, as a Madrid fan, we would not be keeping up with Barcelona in La Liga with Sneijder and Robben, like we are doing now. There is no denying that their replacements, Kaka and Ronaldo, have helped Madrid lessen the gap in quality with Barcelona.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Don't you think keeping Sniejder and Robben would have benefited the team rather than buying Benzema ?. I disagree about these two being anything other than a success at the Bernabau that is until Sniejder had an injury sustained in a pre match game against Arsenal it took him a while to recover from that but he came good again. I saw a massive improvement in Robben when he first arrive at Real Madrid he was the same as at Chelsea going down too easy and always injured in his last season he was being compared to Messi by some in the press and looked a lot tougher. Also Sneijder always looked better than Van der Vaart whom has had to cover for Kaka in most games this year. These two even coming on as subs could have made a difference when it mattered against Lyon and Barcelona for instance an would have much more of an impact than Benzema.

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  • 62. At 1:15pm on 28 Apr 2010, U7161659 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 63. At 1:20pm on 28 Apr 2010, Anti-war wrote:

    As a Chelsea fan its simple, whether the Barca basketballers or the Inter rugby tacklers (as shown in their wins over Chelsea) will win. It all depends on UEFA instructions to the referee !! But with Thiago (Drogba/Ivanovich rugby tackler, of all people) talking about 'clean' football I think Barca will win.

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  • 64. At 1:28pm on 28 Apr 2010, paulgjonze wrote:

    Mourinho great? If he could get a league two team into the premiership, maybe? Why are people like him (and there are loads in football) given loads of praise and adulation for getting what is already a highly talented, well resourced club to the top? It's hardly and achievement to get one of the top ten clubs in europe to the final of the merry-go-round of top-flight trophies.

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  • 65. At 2:07pm on 28 Apr 2010, Andy ES wrote:

    Brilliant Blog:

    http://commentarybox.pkht.co.uk/football/tiger-and-claret-tears-an-approaching-championship-d-day-and-a-first-for-the-faroes/

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  • 66. At 2:17pm on 28 Apr 2010, GP wrote:

    Alex Ferguson has also won the trophy with two different clubs.

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  • 67. At 2:39pm on 28 Apr 2010, David Jahngir wrote:

    Another lazy article, I am getting a bit tired of these articles, I only read now for fun, if you actually investigate further Mourinho is a huge admirer of Van Gaal and the man he credits with creating dossiers on opponents and such attention to detail with his coaching, Van Gaal was also the man that first let Mourinho take coaching sessions.
    Ronaldo is currently playing upfront for Madrid and Canales is a creative play-maker and at the very most would be used behind a front man or front two so is not a like for like replacement, if anything Canales would be backup for either Van Der Vaart if he stays or Kaka.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE RESEARCH YOUR INFORMATION FURTHER BEFORE POSTING ON A NATIONAL WEBISTE.

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  • 68. At 2:41pm on 28 Apr 2010, Krzysztof Wasilewski wrote:

    Mourinho is an arrogant but a likeable one, whereas Van Gaal is not.

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  • 69. At 2:43pm on 28 Apr 2010, Alexandereski wrote:

    Looking forward to the game, without a favourite. I just hope the football is good.

    In regards to the irony of the "special" one, and his achievements and future challenges, plus the rumours of SAF's alleged retirement, there could be two sparrows stunned with one pebble here.

    JM to manage either Liverpool, or Man City next year. I can think of no stronger reason for SAf to stay on, and "prove a point", and for JM to make his own point to the corporate boxes at Stamford Bridge.

    The EPL would certainly benefit from the competitive nature of both characters up against each other, and it would give the rags a plethora of one-liners to choose from every week.

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  • 70. At 2:46pm on 28 Apr 2010, David Jahngir wrote:

    How do you still manage to stay employed as BBC's European "Expert" lay off the Corona's and do some serious journalistic work.

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  • 71. At 2:53pm on 28 Apr 2010, JamTay1 wrote:

    @66

    No Alex Ferguson has NOT won the Champions League/European Cup with two different clubs. He has won it twice with Man Utd. He has however won the old European Cup Winners Cup with two different teams, Man Utd and Aberdeen.

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  • 72. At 3:00pm on 28 Apr 2010, daveydaveydavo wrote:

    "3. At 2:04pm on 27 Apr 2010, DevilOfRed wrote:
    I don't understand why half the players go to the revolving doors of Real Madrid, nevermind the young ones.

    They all seem to leave after a season or two, and it's not like the club is that succesful anymore anyway (in the Champions League at least)."


    It night have something to do with £100000+ a week, signing on fee, leaving fee, image rights and the chance to live the life of Riley in one of the Worlds most beautiful cities. Or am I just a cynic........


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  • 73. At 3:09pm on 28 Apr 2010, bill40 wrote:

    "God must be smiling down on the special one"? i am sure god is more concerned that the special one* is smiling on him.

    *(Other world creating deities are also available)

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  • 74. At 3:54pm on 28 Apr 2010, Bearsridingbikes wrote:

    It's probably not his defining moment, they could quite plausibly lose the game and he'll be back at the same stage of the same competition with Inter, or most likely another team.

    An #64. are you suggesting the likes of Paul Jewell should be receiving all the plaudits then?? He's doing that job because he's worked hard to earn a good enough reputation to be offered it. Also, in my book it's the managers that achieve this level of success at various clubs and internationally that should be genuinely considered Word Class rather than the one club wonders.

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  • 75. At 4:26pm on 28 Apr 2010, jchubeta_aBridgeTooFar wrote:

    54. At 11:52am on 28 Apr 2010, Great_Shatners_Ghost wrote:

    jchubeta - Do you know what underrated means?

    I think in a lot of circles Drogba is considered one of the best strikers in the world. And I'm also sure that Essien is regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders (He'd be my choice), so how are they underrated? Just because he's been injured for a while and therefore out of the press doesn't mean people don't rate him! *bless*
    ___________________________

    What is the definition of the word underrated. For your greater understanding, I will give you two: Underrated: not given enough recognition for its quality. an estimation that is less than the true or actual value

    I stand by my belief that in my opinion Drogba is underrated. He is not given enough recognition for his abilities and qualities. Google his name and you will probably see big, strong, striker from CIV, or criticisms of his game like diving etc. Rooney who I think was overrated till he showed more of his qualities this season, is winning awards and getting press attention for his goal scoring form this season. Drogba has been doing this for years now. Granted his first 2 seasons were ordinary, but in 07/08 Drogba scored so many goals. The media is in the forefront of a salient campaign to make sure Rooney is considered a candidate for the Ballon D'or or World Footballer of the Year. Fair play to him, but please name one thing that Rooney can do that Drogba cannot. DD is a better finisher, a better dead ball player, a better header of the ball, has a good defensive game. Drogba will even be ahead in the goal scoring charts, did he not miss games for the ANC, and he is just a goal behind! Let's be truthful to ourselves here. I feel Drogba is underrated because he has never been contention for World and European player of the year. Those that operate in football administration circles, know that Football Associations and influential magazines through behind the scenes moves and media manipulations try to promote candidates in their leagues. Some years ago, Spanish magazines were upset that Raul was never considered for European player of the year.

    To those doubting Mourinho's pedigree, when was the last time an English manager won the Champions League? Please recognise Mourinho's greatness. Before Mourinho came to Chelsea, there was a statistic that said a manager could not win the Prem in his first year. Mourinho did that, and by securing a record number of points. Someone here said any person could win the league with the players Chelsea has; if so, then what happened with Scolari. Mourinho built that team, in the same way he has remoulded the Inter team. One interesting fact that seems ignored generally is that Chelsea always scored goals. This myth about boring football only came about in his third season (06/07) when Schevchenko and Ballack joined. To accomodate them, JM adopted a midfield diamond, which can be a dour/ narrow formation. Who would forget the 04/05 season, especially the win against Barcelona at SB, where Duff and Robben were irresistable?!

    Since when did one become a good manager only if he guided some lame town team from League One to the Prem?! There are different aspects of being a great manager. Some managers excel at helping teams get promotion but then they become unstuck in the upper division. Some managers are gifted in discovering youngsters, nuturing them and building a team structure. There are some special managers who know how to play the transfer market, bring in quality and create a team that will challenge for and win honours. These last tier are the most coverted in world football, because football is about winning trophies ultimately and not only playing good football. If you disagree, ask members of Brazil's 1970 and 1982 World Cup teams. Even Arsenal's Invincibles team had a trophy to show for their champagne football.

    Sir Alex Ferguson also spent big on players. How much were Rio Ferdinand, Rooney, Nani, Hargreaves, Carrick, Berbatov, Veron bought for?

    Mourinho has won more trophies in his short period of management than Wenger and Benitez put together! Inter reaching the semi-finals is on its own a huge achievement, as they have had better squads that have fallen short. To give u an idea of what Jose has done, bring Inter to within 90mins of a CL final, players like Vieri, Ronaldo, Zamarano, Baggio, Pirlo, Seedorf, Bergomi, Di Biaggio, Recoba, Matthaus, Voller have played at Inter without getting to the final of a CL. In an interview some years ago, Fabio Capello was asked what title win gave him the most satisfaction, and he replied that it was his Serie A title win with Roma in 2001. He said it was the most difficult of all the titles he had won because, he had to revamp the mentalities of a side laden with over 30 years of underachievement and historical failure, and make them believe they could win the Serie A. Lazio, their cross town rivals had won the title the year before, and due to the intense rivalry, the pressure was on. Roma pipped Juventus to the title on the last day of the 2000/2001 season. God help Capello with England at the World Cup!! This shows that belief in the ability to win, is one of the most difficult virtues to impact on a team. This aspect of Sir Alex's managerial ability, rather than the mind games nonsense, transfer market experience or any tactical nous, is his greatest attribute, and has helped Man Utd become great.

    Well, my two cents..

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  • 76. At 4:54pm on 28 Apr 2010, CrabPeople wrote:

    Don't you think keeping Sniejder and Robben would have benefited the team rather than buying Benzema ?. I disagree about these two being anything other than a success at the Bernabau that is until Sniejder had an injury sustained in a pre match game against Arsenal it took him a while to recover from that but he came good again. I saw a massive improvement in Robben when he first arrive at Real Madrid he was the same as at Chelsea going down too easy and always injured in his last season he was being compared to Messi by some in the press and looked a lot tougher. Also Sneijder always looked better than Van der Vaart whom has had to cover for Kaka in most games this year. These two even coming on as subs could have made a difference when it mattered against Lyon and Barcelona for instance an would have much more of an impact than Benzema.

    -----------

    I don't know why you are comparing Benzema to Robben and Sneijder, when I compared them to Ronaldo and Kaka. You are comparing the contributions of one player to two, and players who play a different position. Weird. Anyway, overall Robben and Sneijder were 'good' for Madrid, but they never did what they are doing now for Bayern and Inter for Madrid. Where were they when Madrid were humiliated by Liverpool and Barcelona?

    Robben was compared to Messi last season after a good run of form. Much like Robinho was compared to the likes of Pele, Garrincha, Ronaldinho etc. when he was in Madrid. It doesn't mean much. AS and Marca are obviously biased towards Madrid.

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  • 77. At 5:34pm on 28 Apr 2010, BeautifulGame wrote:

    Great blog Phil.

    It would be really awesome if Jose wins the UEFA champions league with Inter for several reasons.
    1.One is people cannot tell that he is a one time wonder winning it only with PORTO.
    2.Inter are a great team with great players and it has been a longggg time since they have won it.
    3.Players like Eto and Sneijder who are in someway restarting their carreers in Internazionale will do a lot of good for their confidence with the worldcup fast approaching. Also for Milito, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Samuel etc.

    Saying that it is also equally important for the Bavarians also considering that final is Inter vs Bayern as it is somewhat of a similar situation but they have won somewhat recently in 2001. They also have GOOD LUCK charm on their side as it showed in the game against FIORENTINA.

    We just have to wait and watch but no matter whoever wins it this time including Barcelona, it is a piece of history making this year which is very good for football.

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  • 78. At 5:42pm on 28 Apr 2010, Phil Minshull wrote:

    Tori_torres8: “A loss at hands of barca shouldn't mean that Jose is a loser or anything else.” & buymespresso: “Will Jose really be viewed as a failure in Italy if Inter don't get to the finals?” Many others also took up this theme. As various people have pointed out, Mourinho has a fantastic track record, but the current generation of Inter fans, not to say the club’s president, seem to be super-critical and rather unforgiving. (Does this sound like a similar situation to Real Madrid?) Having got this far, and holding an advantage ahead of tonight’s game, nothing less than lifting the Champions league on May 22 will do. I will not think Mourinho is a loser if Barca turn things around tonight, but others in Italy will do so.

    JoC: “Do you think Canales will be taking the famed no.7 shirt off a departing Raul in the Summer (The King is dead..long live The King)...or will CR7 take it?” Two things here. Firstly, I’m not sure that Raul will be leaving and secondly, Real Madrid have spent long enough developing the CR9 brand that it’s highly unlikely that they are going to let him change shirts now.

    Margeretthatcher07: “Could you explain why Raúl will be leaving Real this summer?” Like everybody, I’ve seen the rumours but I still find them hard to credit.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1269157/Raul-Ronaldinho-battle-replace-injured-David-Beckham-Los-Angeles-Galaxy.html

    You provided the answers for me when you said, “He is also hugely loved in Madrid and Spain as a whole where you will see everyday t-shirts branded with the number 7 despite being nothing to do with football. Surely Perez will not sell El Capitan?” He is such an iconic figure at Madrid that my guess is that he will play a couple more seasons there, obviously with an ever more limited role, and then move into coaching.

    Monsieur Wengers Wallet: “Just to correct you, the highest paid manager in the world is Felipe Scolari, currently coach Bunyodkor in Uzbekistan.” Yes, you are absolutely right. I’d overlooked the fact that Scolari had overtaken Mourinho when he took up the job in Uzbekistan. Apologies for the error.

    Karim Kamel: “I have never understood how Ernst Happel never really was regarded as one of the greatest coaches of all time.” I think Happel, who died in 1992, gets his due respect in many parts of Europe, where he league titles in four different countries. However, I get the impression that many British football fans are remarkably unaware of some of the leading players, and other figures, in European football before the advent of satellite TV.


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  • 79. At 5:55pm on 28 Apr 2010, Virtuet wrote:


    I don't know why you are comparing Benzema to Robben and Sneijder, when I compared them to Ronaldo and Kaka. You are comparing the contributions of one player to two, and players who play a different position. Weird. Anyway, overall Robben and Sneijder were 'good' for Madrid, but they never did what they are doing now for Bayern and Inter for Madrid. Where were they when Madrid were humiliated by Liverpool and Barcelona?

    =======================================================================
    I was obviously was talking about the overall balance of the squad. Benzema had to compete with Higuain, Raul and at the time RVN he was alays going to fail in terms of minutes to goals ratio. Van der Vart has had to be called upon to replace Kaka niether he or Kaka has scored or created as regularly Sniejder (check their records) did. Bringing on Robben would have given Madrid a different attacking creative option whereas replacing Higuain with Benzema isn't going to change the attack at all only weaken it.

    As for your other comments Real looked tired against Liverpool at Anfield if you had seen the Madrid derby a couple of days earlier you would have understood why. Plus Liverpool started strong in midfield overrunning Gaga and Lass anyway most of the Liverpool side seem to come coming from closer to Madrid than Liverpool in those days and were gifted two goals by the Ref who was clearly influenced by crowd. Also Liverpool were in a purple patch they also stuck four past Man U the same week without any such gifts from the ref.

    The Barcelona game was at the end of the seasom Madrid had nothing to play for, the Manager Ramos knew he was finished and the players had lost motivation.

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  • 80. At 6:04pm on 28 Apr 2010, Rorb wrote:

    As a Chelsea fan, I'm really enjoying this season's Champs league, remembering how we use to be before European competition (or European minnows), it's exciting to see the tops teams of other countries play a different style of football.

    Having had Liverpool/Arsenal/Man/Chelsea on the TV every week, you almost know exactly what each player will do, but with this there is genuine excitement.

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  • 81. At 6:09pm on 28 Apr 2010, Oneness wrote:

    Number 56, why do so many people accuse Mourinho and Chelsea of spending so big when compared to comparable clubs Man Utd. Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona etc, they haven't spend particularly 'big' at all.

    Mourinho may have had a big cheque book at Chelsea, but he didn't use it much. Most of the big expensive signings were made by Ranieri in Abramovich's first season.

    Mourinho had to get rid of quite a few of those.

    Cech, Robben, Veron, Mutu, Makalele, as well as Joe Cole, Lampard, Glen Johnson etc. etc. were all Ranieri signings.

    The only significant and expensive signings by Mourinho were Carvalho, Drogba, Essien, Malouda and Ashley Cole who was exchanged with William Gallas (with relatively minor cash adjustment). This equates to only two expensive "star" players per season. Pretty undramatic team building in a European context in comparison to the reputation Chelsea have as being big spenders (Abramavich's first season apart).

    In fact in Mourinho's penultimate season Abramavich closed the purse strings not allowing Mourinho the centre-half he needed in January when Terry and Carvalho were both injured which arguably cost Chelsea the league title that season.

    Compare that to say, Alex Ferguson who spent bigger on Ferdinand, Evra, Vidic, Ronaldo, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney etc. (two of those cost more than any Chelsea player, ever) plus a few others who didn't make it out of the reserve team. And God knows how much Rafa Benitez spent in his first few seasons on average players.

    And in the more recent past the Chelsea squad has hardly changed at all, hence the comments about being an ageing squad.

    So please get your facts right before accusing Chelsea of being and Mourinho in particular as being outrageously big spenders.

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  • 82. At 6:12pm on 28 Apr 2010, H Ulike wrote:

    No Problems for 'The Special One', Mourinho's Men of Internazional will complete their bitch-slapping of the boys at Barca and will embarrass Bayern in the final; I'd put money on it, in fact that's exactly what I am going to do.

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  • 83. At 7:34pm on 28 Apr 2010, CrabPeople wrote:

    I was obviously was talking about the overall balance of the squad. Benzema had to compete with Higuain, Raul and at the time RVN he was alays going to fail in terms of minutes to goals ratio. Van der Vart has had to be called upon to replace Kaka niether he or Kaka has scored or created as regularly Sniejder (check their records) did. Bringing on Robben would have given Madrid a different attacking creative option whereas replacing Higuain with Benzema isn't going to change the attack at all only weaken it.

    As for your other comments Real looked tired against Liverpool at Anfield if you had seen the Madrid derby a couple of days earlier you would have understood why. Plus Liverpool started strong in midfield overrunning Gaga and Lass anyway most of the Liverpool side seem to come coming from closer to Madrid than Liverpool in those days and were gifted two goals by the Ref who was clearly influenced by crowd. Also Liverpool were in a purple patch they also stuck four past Man U the same week without any such gifts from the ref.

    The Barcelona game was at the end of the seasom Madrid had nothing to play for, the Manager Ramos knew he was finished and the players had lost motivation.

    ------------------------------------

    Sneijder: 2007/8: 32 games, 9 goals, 7 assists
    Sneijder: 2008/9: 22 games, 4 goals, 4 assists
    Total: 54, 13 goals, 11 assists
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/players/stats?id=28235&cc=5739

    Kaka: 2009/10: 25 games, 9 goals, 7 assists
    http://soccernet.espn.go.com/players/stats?id=21364&cc=5739

    Better record?

    In the second leg against Liverpool, Robben was so poor that he was replaced by Marcelo around half time. The same Marcelo who last year was so bad that he was booed in the Bernabeu by some of his own fans. (This year, Marcelo has been very good in midfield though.)

    Finally, Madrid WERE fighting for something when we were humiliated by Barcelona last season. If we had won that match, we would have been 1 point behind them in La Liga.

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  • 84. At 7:40pm on 28 Apr 2010, CrabPeople wrote:

    I made a mistake with the stats:

    Sneijder: 2008/9: 23 games, 2 goals, 2 assists
    Total: 54, 11 goals, 9 assists

    Kaka: 2009/10: 26 games, 9 goals, 7 assists

    Yes, I realise Sneijder struggled with injuries in his second season, but you can say the same with Kaka.

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  • 85. At 9:51pm on 28 Apr 2010, cjewelz wrote:

    @ 52,

    Real Madrid is NOT the most successful club of all time. The most successful club of all time in the European Cup, yes. AC Milan and Boca Juniors are the most successful clubs of all time.

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  • 86. At 10:04pm on 28 Apr 2010, SirMouseburger wrote:

    I think this is another example of Barcelona being a very good team, but the superlatives being laid at them is somewhat over the top. For the third time in 3 seasons, i have seen them hit a brick wall of tactically astute teams. Manchester United did it in 2008, Chelsea did it in 2009 even though they were knocked out, it was a complete travesty, and tonight Inter Milan did exactly the same thing.

    I daresay this is where the lack of competitiveness in La Liga causes them a problem, as they are used to rolling over teams with their passing game, but when a decent European team comes along and shuts them out, they soon run out of ideas and resort to specualtive long shots.

    Messi was disappointing - this is the sort of game where he needs to make the difference if he is to be considered the greatest player ever. It is all well and good banging in three goals against a very open Arsenal defence, but what Barca needed was him to unlock a very tight Inter defence when they were in dire need of some magic.

    All that said, well done to Inter Milan, an amazing performance considering there were down to 10 men after 30 minutes against the "best team in the world" on their home turf.

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  • 87. At 00:42am on 29 Apr 2010, dean22 wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 88. At 05:56am on 29 Apr 2010, WordsofWisdom wrote:

    @81. At 6:09pm on 28 Apr 2010, onenessuk wrote:
    The only significant and expensive signings by Mourinho were Carvalho, Drogba, Essien, Malouda and Ashley Cole who was exchanged with William Gallas (with relatively minor cash adjustment). This equates to only two expensive "star" players per season. Pretty undramatic team building in a European context in comparison to the reputation Chelsea have as being big spenders (Abramavich's first season apart).

    Compare that to say, Alex Ferguson who spent bigger on Ferdinand, Evra, Vidic, Ronaldo, Nani, Berbatov, Rooney etc.

    So please get your facts right before accusing Chelsea of being and Mourinho in particular as being outrageously big spenders.
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Irionic you talk about getting facts straight when yours are a complete mess!

    Below is a list by year of Mourinho's spending a total of 226m with 141m of that in his first year (no other English team/manager has ever come close to that number!)

    As for the Utd players you mention. Rio to Berbatov spreads over 7 or 8 years! Vidic and Evra were bargains (6m and 8m)!

    Chelsea bought the League and Mourinho was handed it on a platter.....every one knows that!

    2007
    Aug Juliano Belletti Barcelona £3.7m
    July Florent Malouda Lyon £13.5m
    June Tal Ben Haim Bolton Free
    June Claudio Pizarro Bayern Munich Free
    June Steve Sidwell Reading Free


    2006
    Aug Ashley Cole Arsenal £5m
    Aug Khalid Boulahrouz Hamburg £7m
    June John Mikel Obi Lyn £16m
    May Ben Sahar Hapoel Tev Aviv £320,000
    May Andrei Shevchenko AC Milan £30.8m
    May Salomon Kalou Feyenoord £8m
    May Michael Ballack Bayern Munich Free


    2005
    Aug Michael Essien Lyon £24.4m
    July Shaun Wright-Phillips Manchester City £21m
    July Lassana Diarra Le Havre £1m
    July Scott Sinclair Bristol Rovers £160,000
    June Asier Del Horno Athletic Bilbao £8m
    Jan Jiri Jarosik CSKA Moscow £4.83m
    July Ricardo Carvalho Porto £19.85m
    July Didier Drogba Marseille £24m
    July Tiago Benfica £8m
    July Mateja Kezman PSV Eindhoven £5m
    July Paulo Ferreira Porto £13.2m
    July Arjen Robben PSV Eindhoven £12m


    Total £225.76m

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  • 89. At 08:50am on 29 Apr 2010, CrabPeople wrote:

    @ 52,

    Real Madrid is NOT the most successful club of all time. The most successful club of all time in the European Cup, yes. AC Milan and Boca Juniors are the most successful clubs of all time.

    ------------------------------

    Real Madrid were voted the most successful club of the 20th century by FIFA. (Penarol were elected as the best from South America in the 20th century.)

    I have read that there are clubs who have won more FIFA and UEFA recognised international titles than Real Madrid. This takes into account Intercontinental Cups, Cup Winners' Cups etc. But for most, the domestic league, domestic cup and the top continental competition are the most important.

    Real Madrid have 31 league titles, 17 Copa del Rey, and 9 Champions League trophies (as well as 2 UEFA cups.) Milan have 17 Serie A titles, 5 Copa Italia, and 7 Champions League. Boca have won 6 Copas Libertadores and 24 domestic titles.

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  • 90. At 2:25pm on 03 May 2010, pcoelho7 wrote:

    So weird Phil. Where is your apology post to Mourinho? I don't see it!

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  • 91. At 12:25pm on 17 Mar 2011, matchwinner wrote:

    Would be great to see Mourinho pitching up at either Chelsea or Inter Milan in the next round - always adds spice. I don't think anyone can write off any of Jose's teams ever, so they have to be one of the main challengers.

    That said, Barca trounced them 5-0 last time - what a re-match that could be in the CL!

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