Mourinho eyes Inter endgame after hinting at corruption in Italian football
THERE were two indicative comments from Jose Mourinho in the aftermath of Inter Milan's 2-1 victory over Chelsea. Both were heavily laden with implication. Both will resonate.
With the first little pearl, Mourinho spoke not only of the affection he believes he still retains at Chelsea, but added that "Mourinho is lucky at Stamford Bridge." And clearly expects to be lucky again next month. If he knocks out Chelsea it will be some scalp, some retribution, some reminder.
With the second, Mourinho turned towards domestic matters and hinted heavily of a new Milan Calciopoli scandal.
"During my time in Italy I have learnt several new words and phrases. One of them is abbassare I toni, which means to be quiet," he said, hinting at a cover-up and corruption.
"Some time ago Italian football had the Calciopoli saga. From a Portuguese point of view, it was a shame for me and my family. I let my family eat with the money earned from football. I came to Italy an honest man and I will leave Italy as one."
And with that claim that he is working in a corrupt league, he stood up and left the press room to murmurs of consternation. What did it all mean?
Those who know Mourinho, who recognise his mood and mindset, will have been left in no doubt that this may be the start of an endgame at Inter that could see him return to the Premier League.
He signed a new contract last year that makes him -- after Luiz Felipe Scolari in Uzbekistan -- the highest-paid manager in the world netting him a basic salary of more than £8m a season although, as he has made public, there is a £5.5m buy-out clause this summer.
Will it be exercised by Manchester City? Certainly influential sources have been mentioning Mourinho's name with increasing regularity as the doubts start to grow over whether Roberto Mancini can survive. Exiting the FA Cup, after the Carling Cup, and floundering for league form, has not helped Mancini's prospects of staying at City beyond the break clause in his own contract.
He needs fourth place and to galvanise the disgruntled members of his squad behind him. Otherwise his City paymasters will become nervous. And if chief executive Garry Cook -- perhaps concerned about his own future -- can deliver Mourinho, having dispensed with Mancini, it would be a coup even if Liverpool, should Rafael Benitez decamp to Real Madrid, try to make their move.
Financially, however, it's no contest. (© Daily Telegraph, London)