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Mourinho’s Inter Milan Homecoming?

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With the Portuguese tactician unlikely to remain at Manchester United beyond this season, Serpents look at the possibility of his return and what that would mean for Inter Milan.

Bayern Muenchen v Inter Milan - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

After seeing Jose Mourinho lift the big-eared champions league trophy in 2010 you would be hard-pressed to find an Inter Milan fan that wanted to see him go. Heck, for that matter, none of his players wanted him to leave either.

Tear-felt memories that seem like so long ago.

Fast forward to 2018 and you’ll find that his current crop of players are not nearly as attached to their gaffer - the former Nerazzurri legend - Jose Mourinho. Back at Inter in 2010 I cannot think of a single player that Mou had criticised, a stark contrast to his treatment of the players at his disposal at United. Instead, at Inter, Mourinho would blame himself for any shortcomings, in turn freeing his players from any responsibility.

The simple truth is that Jose does not suit the Manchester club or its philosophy. Their most successful coach, Alex Ferguson, mastered unshackling his players and giving them freedom at the right time. In comparison Jose restricts, controls. A defensive team suits him, one with experienced players.

And if his current job is put under pressure, as sure as the sun will rise in the east and the moon will wane in the night sky, there will be links in the media for a return to his beloved Inter. The problem with that is that we’re in arguably the best form since he left us. So, if the situation should arise, should we consider welcoming him back without hesitation? Would it be fair to Luciano Spalletti?

We will take a look at the teams from 2010 and 2018 and compare them. We will also look the current players compatibility with Mourinho amongst other things.

2010 Treble-winning team vs 2018 (current) team

Formations: Inter 2010: 4-2-3-1 Julio Cesar, Douglas Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel, Christian Chivu, Esteban Cambiasso, Javier Zanetti (c), Samuel Eto, Goran Pandev, Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito.

Inter 2018 present: 4-2-3-1 Samir Handanovic, Sime Vrsaljko, Milan Skriniar, Stefan De Vrij, Kwadwoh Asamoah, Marcelo Brozovic, Mattias Vecino, Matteo Politano, Ivan Perisic, Radja Nainggolan, Mauro Icrardi (c)

FC Internazionale v AC Milan - Serie A
Samir Handanovic of FC Internazionale celebrates after his team-mate Mauro Emanuel Icardi scored during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and AC Milan at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on October 21, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Defense

Julio Cesar - One of the best goalkeepers in the history of Inter Milan. There were matches that I’ve seen where he quite possibly was more active than any other keeper I’ve witnessed before, or at least that was how I felt after seeing him thwart attack after attack.

VS. Samir Handanovic - Samir once had a streak of six straight penalty saves. He is a supreme shot-stopper who has stayed with us through thick and thin and is finally experiencing the UEFA Champions League with us. His ability to stop aerial threats and the command of his area is sometimes questionable but his distribution is excellent and he could easily walk into a Pep Guardiola side.

For Mourinho - Mourinho would be happy with Handanovic as would most managers.

Maicon - There has been no right-back since Douglas Maicon that comes close to the colossal presence that he had on the wing during his time at Inter. His crossing was on par with Luis Figo’s, he would bulldoze up on down the flank week in and week out. He was a phenomenon and a samba machine in his own right.

VS. Sime Vrsaljko & Danilo D’ambrosio - To be fair to Sime I think between him and Kwadwoh Asamoah we have found Javier Zanetti or something close. But Joao Cancelo was the closest the Inter Milan squad has come to replacing the qualities of Maicon.

For Mourinho - I believe Mourinho would be happy to have either of these players at his disposal as they are more than able defensively and still capable of building plays from the back.

Lucio - To me one of the best defenders to play football but never mentioned next to the greats. Dribbled out of the back in the biggest games without giving away the ball or being exposed in a positional sense.

VS. Milan Skriniar - Another defender adept at bringing the ball out of the back. He’s been an absolutely graceful monster of a player since we got him. He doesn’t take quite same the risks that Lucio would but make no mistake this kid has guts to spare. And he’s willing to dedicate his football career to Inter. Something that Lucio didn’t manage to do for any one team for an extended period of time.

For Mourinho - It’s no secret that Jose has been begging for a central defender at United. He would be more than happy to have Milan Skriniar at his disposal.

Walter Samuel - ‘The wall’, well his name speaks for itself. He was a warrior. An integral member of the Argentine contingent at Inter and will go down as a legend that saved his best football for when he came to us.

Vs. Stefan De Vrij - I have watched more of Walter’s career than I have of De Vrij’s but if Stefan continues on from what I’ve seen so far, then he will exceed Samuel’s career. He shares the same uncanny ability to get onto the end of set-pieces as Samuel. Internationally he’s also building a solid partnership with Virgil Van Dijk.

For Mourinho - Again one can only imagine that Jose would be excited at the prospect of having a player like De Vrij at his disposal.

Christian Chivu - The often injury ravaged and battle-torn Romanian was a quality player. Once coveted by Barcelona, Chivu had a tough time with injuries throughout his career, much of that happened at his time with Inter. Where he started wearing a ‘helmet’ due to a terrible head injury. He slowly gained fitness, composure and confidence in black & blue, but when he did he was quality. Capable of taking set pieces, playing at centre-back or left back, sometimes he was even utilised on the left wing. He always made himself useful to the team.

VS. Kwadwoh Asamoah - There are undeniable similarities between the two players. Chivu’s fitness issues would have been worse than Kwadwoh’s but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t also have his fair share. They both have good left feet on them and have been utility players throughout their careers.

For Mourinho - Basically if Mourinho could transport the whole Inter defense to England so that they could play week in and week out for Manchester he would. It is no different for Asamoah, Jose would love him.

FC Barcelona v FC Internazionale - UEFA Champions League Group B
Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan looks dejected after Barcelona scores their first goal during the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale at Camp Nou on October 24, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Midfield

Esteban Cambiasso - One of my favourite players. Cambiasso was so subtle that he would probably appear to the casual observer as a bland player, with no charisma. But those that really followed and watched him as footballer know, they know, that Cambiasso was a very skillful and intelligent player. At Inter he focused on the defensive aspect of his game, he also had good ability as a deep-lying play-maker. But I think think in the end he realized that solidity benefited Inter more than anything else.

VS. Marcelo Brozovic - Brozovic and Cambiasso are at somewhat opposite ends of the spectrum. Put simply, Cambiasso would intercept plays and Brozovic has become a play builder, although his tackling ability is nothing to laugh at either. Brozovic often looks like he’s run himself ragged when a match is over, in contrast everything Esteban did was measured and calculated.

For Mourinho - If given the choice between Cambiasso and Brozovic, Mourinho would choose Cambiasso a million times. Sorry ‘Epic Brozo’ but Cambiasso possesses the qualities that impress Jose. I think if Mourinho were to come to Inter right now he would attempt to change the way Brozovic plays which would affect his confidence and quality. They are not a match made in heaven.

Javier Zanetti - What can we say about Zanetti, that hasn’t been said before? He is the consummate athlete. Classy. It is rumoured that he went for a jog just before he got married. Zanetti’s regular position is not midfield but this is where he played in the champions league final. I remember when Arjen Robben gave Chivu trouble Zanetti was shifted there and Robben was kept quite for the rest of the match. Simple as that. And he did it to Messi too, but with humble players people don’t talk about these things.

VS. Mattias Vecino/Roberto Gagliardini/Borja Valero- Of all these players maybe Valero can tie Zanetti’s boots. In all likelihood none of their careers will compare to ‘El Evergreen Capitano’s’ but between the three of those players they are managing to fill the role of one. I think that Sime and Kwadwoah are more similar players to Javier in all honesty.

For Mourinho - Borja would be ushered out quickly. Borja in his prime wouldn’t particularly possess the qualities sought out by Jose anyway. I do think he would appreciate players like Vecino and Gagliardini (once touted as the white Pogba) but I think their positions, too, would be far from assured.

FC Barcelona v FC Internazionale - UEFA Champions League Group B
Mauro Icardi of FC Internazionale competes for the ball with Clement Lenglet of FC Barcelona during the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale at Camp Nou on October 24, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Attack

Goran Pandev - Goran came to Inter from Lazio as a backup playmaker for Sneijder. An exciting journeyman that reached the summit, the biggest club that he would, in his career. When Sneijder got injured, Pandev scored a free-kick and some goals. Then he eventually even wormed his way into the starting team for the Champions League final, which is a testament to his work-rate and ability as Jose won’t stand for any slackness from his wingers.

VS. Matteo Politano - Politano definitely has a bigger engine, more stamina, more speed and more skill than Goran Pandev. They both are left-footed and more than capable with set-piece deliveries. Politano is poised to have a greater career than the Macedonian though, he just needs to keep up the good work.

For Mourinho - Mourinho would want to work with Politano. He might give him a more restricted role than he has now and more defensive responsibilities but he would definitely see his potential and try to mould it in his own way.

Samuel Eto’ - For me Samuel Eto is one of the top 10 strikers of all time. Top 15 if you really want to stretch it. For the first time in his career he was asked to do something different, and take defensive priorities into consideration for the - in his words - ‘only coach I would play on the wing for.’ Eto compromised and the end result? A back-to-back treble for the Cameroonian.

VS. Ivan Perisic - Perisic will never score the amount of goals that Eto has scored. Ever. He is a great player don’t get me wrong but Eto is another calibre for me sorry.

For Mourinho - Mou has already seeked Ivan’s services at Manchester United. We know that he’s a player that he admires, it’s safe to say that Perisic’s spot would be safe if Mourinho were to come back.

Wesley Sneijder - The trequartista that Jose knew he needed to complete his team arrived. He and Deco were arguably the playmakers that took to Jose’s philosophy the best without losing much - if any - attacking impetus. Wesley arrived from Madrid in great form. Scored plenty free-kicks and goals, and provided assists. He wasn’t the most skillful but he knew how to avoid danger and play the final ball. That’s all we needed from him, simplicity.

VS Radja Nainggolan - Even though Sneijder has made a World Cup final and won a treble - two things that Radja has not - I can’t help but feel like these two players are not miles apart. Like Sneijder, Nainggolan can play a through-ball with surgeon-like precision. He’s got arguably a stronger shot than him, he’s tougher in the tackle, more physical, better defensively and the same if not better in the dribble.

For Mourinho - All the attributes are there. If Radja Nainggolan can keep his partying ways quiet then there is no reason why Mourinho wouldn’t want him.

Diego Milito - ‘El Principe’ will forever go down in our clubs folklore as a player that peaked, fulfilled his potential, and became the best player that he possibly could that fated night in Madrid, for what he achieved during the Champions League final. That night more than any sealed his legendary status at Inter, he could do no wrong from that day forward.

VS Mauro Icardi - If Milito made himself a legend in a short space of time. Icardi has done the opposite, he’s not tasted any glory with us other than delivering us back into the Champions League. Mauro’s path has been a steady rise but the amount of goals he’s scored with our club also gives him legendary status. In terms of style I think Milito shocked the world that year, it’s as if every team was not prepared, in contrast, everyone knows Icardi, but they cannot stop him. I think Milito was a tad bit more mobile at his best, not faster but more mobile. I think Mauro is stronger on his head and with his left foot while Milito was better running with the ball on the counter.

For Mourinho - It would be interesting to see if Mourinho could make Icardi a world-beater like he did Milito. He would definitely try. Icardi’s spot is safe.

FC Barcelona v FC Internazionale - UEFA Champions League Group B
Luciano Spalletti, Manager of Inter Milan looks dejected following defeat in the Group B match of the UEFA Champions League between FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale at Camp Nou on October 24, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Tale of the managerial tape

Luciano Spalletti vs Jose Mourinho - It is difficult to make this comparison because Luciano Spalletti has not really had the opportunity to realise his full potential at Inter Milan, whereas Jose Mourinho has. In terms of style, I think Spalletti brings a more attractive, exciting and adventurous brand of football. He likes to have a strong defense but he won’t prevent proactive football in order to get it. The midfield looks fluid and mobile for the first time in years. With Jose the counter attacks were razor sharp. In my opinion, the sharpest I’ve seen consistently from any team. They were extremely precise and very clinical. The defense became so confident it looked almost relaxed on regular occasions.

There is something about Inter Milan suffering for wins and making mega-comebacks that is in fact a part of the team’s essence. A game like that made me become a fan. We have had an amazing run of games with wins fashioned in this style under Spalletti. But with Mourinho Inter was so calm and confident, we didn’t even get into situations like that too often.

An interesting fact that goes in favour of Spalletti is that in Inter’s Champions League group stage match against PSV Eindhoven they registered 17 attempts on goal in the first half. A Champions League record (No other team has done this before). This shows the intention of Spalletti. The wingplay under his stewardship has been more dynamic than that under Mourinho. Mauro Icardi has scored more under him in the league than Milito or Ibrahimovic did for Mourinho. There is reason to believe that Inter can enter an extremely offensive era under Spalletti.

In conclusion, I can say that I would honestly be very disappointed if Spalletti’s tenure were to be cut short if Mourinho’s availability were to be made possible. Even the possibility of his availability could disrupt what is currently a position under no threat, interfering with Spalletti’s work, though, he will be used to working under pressure by now. I also think that Mourinho would do well to adopt a Pep Guardiola type mentality and take a sabbatical from football of some sort when he’s finished at United.

He looks drained, tired, and devoid of new ideas, resorting to comfort zones and negativity. If Spalletti fails terribly then it would be great to have someone like Mourinho waiting in the wings. But I also do not think it is a question of if Jose Mourinho will be the manager of the Inter team again, but a question of when.

What do you think? Should Inter accept Mourinho immediately if he becomes available? Is the current Inter team suited to him?

What do you think? Post your comments below!