At the end of a turbulent few days in which Jose Mourinho has suggested he is being rounded upon, the Inter Milan coach last night delivered a scathing attack on the Italian game.
The Portuguese coach never has been scared of speaking his mind and, while his open and honest misdemeanour may endear him to fans of the club he represents, those on the other side often struggle to accept his apparent arrogance.
Nobody appears less comfortable with his behaviour than the Italian Lega Calcio officials who, 48 hours before last night’s important Champions League tie with Chelsea, banned him for the next three Serie A matches due to a handcuff gesture he made during his side’s 0-0 draw with Sampdoria last weekend.
Mourinho has kept quiet since the ill-timed disclosure of his touchline ban and the Lega Calcio may have been lured into thinking that would remain the case.
He exploded last night however, breaking his silence with a damning attack on the Italian game.
“I have recently heard a new term for my pathetic Italian,” he said.
“I am told that we ’have to lower the tone’. Well let’s ’lower the tone’.
“You Italians have created a story that I, as a professional in the world of football, as a person who earns his living in football, was terribly ashamed of.
“Your Calciopoli was shameful. At the time I was working in Portugal, and it ashamed me to feed my family with money earned in football.”
Little did Mourinho know back then during the worst match-fixing scandal to hit Italian and probably European football that he himself would end up earning his money directly from the Italian game.
But he will not let his own integrity be affected.
“I entered Italy honestly and I will leave honestly,” he said. “There was a penalty for Chelsea tonight.”
The flamboyant Portuguese coach was referring to a foul on Salomon Kalou in first-half stoppage time which was missed by referee Manuel Mejuto Gonzalez.
Inter were therefore able to preserve their one-goal advantage at the interval and go on to seal a 2-1 win, putting them in the driving seat of this knockout-stage tie, but Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti refused to pin the blame on the referee.
“I know Mejuto Gonzalez is a very good referee with a lot of experience and I don’t want to say anything else,” he said.
“We can say that we were unlucky this evening and we hope that will be better in the future.
“I think there was a penalty in the first half, but a penalty is only when the referee whistles.”
Ancelotti’s return to the San Siro was therefore not quite the occasion he had hoped for.
“I am a Milan fan so, against Inter, it’s always a derby,” he said.
“I think we played a good game with personality and courage and with good play.
“We have to do the same in the next game against Inter.”
A 1-0 win will do for the Blues at Stamford Bridge on March 16, but Mourinho is not so sure they will be able to prevent his side from scoring.
“Obviously they will think that they can turn the result around, which is normal, but we think we can win and this is important,” he said.