Last night Jose Mourinho took Inter to the Champions League final for the first time since Hellenio Herrera won the European Cup 45 years ago in 1965. This morning the Italian press is hailing the Inter display as a heroic effort and a defiant struggle. Mourinho has even been proclaimed as being like Herrera himself, a little premature perhaps. The evening was described by Jose as the greatest of his career stating that they left blood on that field.
It amuses me however to consider the manner in which Inter got to the final. In September 2004 Mourinho slammed Spurs manager Jacques Santini for his negative tactics in their encounter at Stamford Bridge. He said: "As we say in Portugal, they brought the bus and they left the bus in front of the goal.
Yesterday evening the Santini bus had changed it’s colours. Mourinho parked his bus and forced Barcelona to play through 10 men in a 20-25 yard band of the pitch between the 18 yard box and the centre circle. This left Barcelona with little room in front of or behind the defence where they could play the football everyone talks about. Plan A was to aim direct balls up to Ibrahimovic but these were gobbled up by Lucio and Walter Samuel all night long until the Swede was withdrawn. Guardiola then went for a mobile approach switching to a 4-2-4 bringing Bojan and Jeffren on to try and play quick passes and pigeon footed dribbling around the Inter back line. There simply wasn’t the space for such play to be successful.
Barcelona failed to stretch and turn the Inter back four. The bus was parked and only a futile effort was made to move it. Well done to Inter, typical of a football manager to slam a style of play only to then employ it himself while thinking nothing of it.