JOSE Mourinho has fuelled the growing rumours that he will return to English football this summer by describing himself as dissatisfied with life in Serie A and admitting that he misses the English game.
"It is a simple situation, I am happy at Inter but unhappy with Italian football," the Inter Milan coach said yesterday before his team's Champions League tie with CSKA Moscow tonight. Asked why, his explanation was frank: "Because I do not like it and because it doesn't like me."
Earlier, Mourinho had said, with typical modesty: "I miss English football and English football misses me, there's no doubt about that, but right now I'm thinking only about Inter. At Inter I'm very busy with the league, the Italian Cup and the Champions League. These occupy all my thoughts, preparing games and analysing them."
Mourinho left Chelsea in September 2007, after twice winning the Premier League. He won the Serie A title in his first season with Inter, 2008-09, but his relationship with fans and media has not clicked in the way it did in England and he evidently feels underappreciated in Italy. A return to England has long been rumoured.
The most plausible English destinations for Mourinho would be Manchester United, Manchester City or Liverpool. Alex Ferguson seems as entrenched as ever in charge of United, although -- presumably -- he cannot carry on indefinitely. While Rafael Benitez's position at Anfield is hardly secure given the team's form, it seems improbable that Mourinho would want to move to a club without the funds to make a large-scale investment in the transfer market. Manchester City could certainly offer that.
Carlo Ancelotti is under pressure at Stamford Bridge after losing to Mourinho's Inter in the Champions League this month, but will probably not be sacked after a single season in charge, while Roman Abramovich, the Chelsea owner, is not likely to reappoint a man whom he parted with after a personality clash.
It was not the only piece of plain-speaking from the Portuguese yesterday. He questioned CSKA's right to be in the competition after Aleksei Berezutski and Sergei Ignashevich were provisionally suspended for testing positive for a banned substance after a group-stage game away to Manchester United in November.
They were given one-match bans, which they had already served, after they were merely found to have taken a cold medicine.
Mourinho, though, feels less forgiving than UEFA. "There's something grey about CSKA's progress in the Champions League," he said. "If two players go to an anti-doping control and a substance is found that's not allowed in the Champions League, there's something grey."
INTER MILAN v CSKA MOSCOW LIVE
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