Friday 15 December 2017

Mourinho out for vengeance

Victory for Inter boss at Bridge will settle scores with Abramovich and rival manager Ancelotti

When Diego Milito did a hand-brake turn inside John Terry before firing home the first goal, Jose Mourinho sat motionless on the touchline.

When Esteban Cambiasso thundered a second past Petr Cech there was still barely a flicker of reaction on the face of the Inter Milan manager.

Mourinho knows Inter's 2-1 Champions League first leg victory over Chelsea in the San Siro last month was nothing to celebrate.

But if the final whistle sees Inter cling to their advantage tonight, when Mourinho makes an emotional return to Stamford Bridge for the second leg, then you can be sure he will consider racing down the touchline, punching the air, coat tails flapping, just as he did when his Porto side knocked out Manchester United back in 2004.

At least, in his head that is what he will be doing. Mourinho has too much respect for the Chelsea fans who once worshipped him to gloat at their expense.

The same does not go for Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, whose fall-out with Mourinho led to the manager's departure in September 2007.

The same certainly does not go for current Chelsea coach Carlo Ancelotti, with whom Mourinho has a vexed relationship following their time in Milan.

Make no mistake, Mourinho has revenge on his mind. Retribution for the manner in which he was sent packing from Stamford Bridge after delivering back-to-back Premier League titles.

ANGST

You only have to listen to football's most charismatic manager to detect the angst.

"Chelsea have suffered in the past two years, and it's no coincidence that their decline happened after I left," says Mourinho.

"We had a unique relationship as a manager, players and fans, and when you break that it's not easy to fix. They've had a lot of coaches since and maybe some didn't have the mentality for the club. Maybe they tried to change too much of what we put in place."

Many would agree with that summation.

Abramovich wanted the titles but he also wanted to win them playing fancy, attractive, attacking football. He wanted to win the Champions League that way too.

Mourinho was the pragmatist. Under Mourinho, Chelsea's full-backs rarely got forward, yanked back as if on an invisible leash if they strayed beyond the halfway line.

Mourinho was cautious. He had no desire to win 3-0 or 4-0 if a game could be wrapped up securely with a single strike. At Inter there is more freedom. His side are leading scorers in Serie A this season by some distance (52 for and just 22 conceded before this weekend).

They have menacing strikers in Milito and former Barcelona star Samuel Eto'o, but particularly in Milito whose twisting, turning style will be a constant menace to a Chelsea side who know at some stage they must press.

But while Inter's threat was obvious in the San Siro it should not be forgotten that it was Chelsea who controlled the match. Chelsea who dominated possession and dictated territory.

They miss the injured Ashley Cole but in Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, John Obi Mikel and co, they have a formidable central force.

And up front Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka provide a strike partnership as formidable as anything in the Champions League.

True, Inter's Brazilian defender Lucio kept Drogba quiet in Milan. To do so again would be a real achievement.

There is, of course, another reason why today's tie has so much spice.

Mourinho and Ancelotti dislike each other. They never got on when Ancelotti was boss at AC Milan and they had to share the limelight in Italy's premier footballing city.

Mourinho has admitted as much. "Ancelotti is no friend of mine and this won't change," he says. "In England, you're shown respect if you're a foreign coach who comes in and offers his experience and knowledge. But in Italy, this respect only comes if you're born as an Italian." It is why Mourinho is so driven. To prove Chelsea and Abramovich wrong to get rid of him. To prove the Italians wrong. To prove he really is the "Special One" he professed to be when he arrived at Stamford Bridge. The smart money says Chelsea will be too strong. Somehow they will find a way.

But if they do not then it would be a 'special' moment for Mourinho; one worth celebrating.

CHELSEA v INTER MILAN,

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