Soapbox: Mourinho’s Inter Milan – just like watching Blackpool


Almost a blank Saturday? Pete Sixsmith found no football to tempt him to a ground yesterday, but was so taken with what he heard and saw from Wembley and the Santiago Bernabeu that he became quite confused. Was that Ormerod or Milito who scored Blackpool’s playoff winner? See if you spotted the same similarities between yesterday’s triumphant sides …

Well that was my first blank Saturday for a while. I resisted the temptation of Newcastle University v Shankhouse in the Northern Alliance and spent a non football ground-attending day doing other things.

These included, breakfast in Bishop Auckland, fly killing at Sixsmith Towers, shopping in Church Street, Shildon, South West Durham’s answer to the Champs-Elysées and going for a tramp around Cotherstone and the Balder Valley to clear my head before facing a couple of very busy days at work.

However, football was never far from my thoughts. I returned to the family pile from my hoofing activities just as the Championship Play Off game started. Memories of 1998 flashed through my mind – quality goals, Perez coming for a ball that was way beyond him, Mickey Gray’s miss and a miserable journey back up the M1 to come home to mocking telephone messages from Mags . They wonder why we enjoyed their relegation so much.

Not being a subscriber to Murdoch’s TV Empire, I had to make do with the Radio 5 Live and the excellent Steve Claridge, (a pundit who really enjoys his football, unlike the po faced so and sos on TV) while sat in my extensive grounds, sipping a Pimms and idly chewing on caviar and fois gras. It sounded a cracker, forcing me out of my slumbers on a regular basis in a first half that threatened to eclipse our “classic” of 12 years ago.

Chopra sounded dangerous throughout and this mornings Observer described him as “a Premier League striker” Mmmmm. But Blackpool just kept coming back and once they went ahead, I felt that Cardiff would not catch them.

The last 10 minutes must have been torture for their fans but great pleasure comes from pain (as Max Mosely said, allegedly) and they hung on to give us the opportunity to return to Bloomfield Road for the first time since the Third Division season and two John McPhail goals. That was a beast of a day out of which there may well be more, later in the year.

A couple of hours break and then on to a completely different kind of game as Inter Milan took on Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final. I am usually ambivalent about games like this, but I had the feeling that this would be another fascinating game and I was right.

I thought that the controlled, disciplined football played by Inter was stunning and, in many ways, similar to that played by Blackpool. The players are of different quality, but each one knows exactly what he has to do – and does it without question. Mourinho says to E’to “track back, stifle your attacking interests, do it for the team”, he does it. Holloway says to Ormerod “sit on the shoulder of their defenders, run yourself into the ground for an hour, do it for the team”, he does it.

At the moment, the Brucester is in the process of getting our players to buy into the same philosophy. There will be some who are not keen and they must be moved on. But, others will buy into this and hopefully, this will bring even more progress to our beloved club..

If you read Lance Hardy’s excellent book on Bob Stokoe and Sunderland’s stars of ‘73, he has an outstanding section on Alan Brown and the approach that he used to organising players and systems.

There are similarities between what he preached in his two spells at Roker Park and what Mourinho has done at Porto, Chelsea, Inter and what he may well do at Real Madrid.

I can’t ever see us playing at the same level as Inter, though. Walter Samuel was immense. He did a Richie Pitt in the first minute and Howard Webb ducked out. He (Samuel) looks like the heavy in the Laurel and Hardy films – the one Stan has a boxing match with. Hard!!

Jim Beglin described Maicon as a “beast of a player” and how can Argentina leave a player like Cambiasso out of their squad? As for Diego Milito – absolutely brilliant. His first goal was out of nothing and his second was down to Bayern defenders realising that he was much better than them and losing half a pace on him. And he looks like a young Sylvester Stallone.

Bayern worked hard, ran around a lot but were miles away from the class and quality of an Italian team without an Italian in it and with a Portugese coach who will be back in the Premier League one day. Wonder if Quinny can engineer a meeting with “The Special One”?

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