BOLOGNA - José Mourinho's Inter took a step closer to the Serie A title at the Renato Dall'Ara but for the Portuguese coach, there's still a long way to go. "The championship isn't over, the mathematics speaks for itself: there are still 30 points and 10 victories," he told Sky Sport Italia after Saturday's 2-1 victory over Bologna.
"We prepared for this afternoon's match without thinking about Tuesday's against Manchester United. I can say that we just tried out dead-ball situations, and both our goals today came in this way. I'm pleased with this victory because it came against an opponent in great form who created great difficulties for us, a very organised team in defence that mirrors the qualities of their coach"
Mourinho went on to explain his decision to play Muntari behind the strikers and leave Stankovic on the bench. "It was important for me to manage the midfield like this ahead of the Manchester United match: 45 minutes for Muntari and 45 for Stankovic, but Sulley had a few problems in that role and I understand that it's not his position but he did he job and so did Julio Cesar, who 'woke up' after 75 minutes, making a great save. This is the sign that Julio and the whole team needed. The goalkeeper of a great team is really special because sometimes he doesn't touch the ball for most of the match and makes one save in 90 minutes, but in that save the whole match is decided and you understand how valuable he is. My goalkeeper coach Silvino works on this, on the concentration needed to stay on the pitch."
Balotelli came off the bench to fire Inter back in front within minutes of Britos' equaliser. "He was on the bench and was an option like the others. I decided to put him on and I was lucky," explained Mourinho. "Mario replied very well, he came on with lots of desire, he scored and he gave protection in defence. I'm always happy when a player gets his concentration back. He's very happy and we have three more points."
With Bologna out of the way, José Mourinho can turn his attention to Tuesday's visit of Manchester United. "Now it's important to think only about the Champions League match, but I don't want my players to go on the pitch under pressure. I want them to play with pleasure and the first thing I will tell them and repeat to them from tomorrow is that I have great faith in our capabilities. I know Manchester United since 2004, they're the best team in the world, they play on the counter-attack and we'll have to be very intelligent to face a team that moves like this. It's very easy for me to explain to my players how Manchester United will play but this is not enough, and if at Old Trafford we'll be playing against 12 men, I think it's right that at San Siro it's the same."
Mourinho confessed that Samuel is unlikely to be fit in time to face United after the Argentine defender pulled up injured in the pre-match warm-up in Bologna. "A player who felt such a strong pain in his calf on Saturday is unlikely to make it for the game on Tuesday," he said.