BOSTON - José Mourinho broke his press silence in an interview with the Italian journalists who are following the Nerazzurri's pre-season progress in the USA. "I haven't spoken because I thought it was right towards the club not to interfere with an important deal that was taking place nine hours ahead our our time here," admitted the Portuguese. "There are no problems with the managers, we have always worked as a group. My only worry was not knowing with certainty the right direction to take with the team's work, but this problem has been resolved now."
Inter has changed and Mourinho explained how: "It will be a different Inter because we have players with different characteristics. I wanted a more balanced team and I can say that this team is more balanced and stronger than a year ago. We will have a different game and we will need a bit of time to build it, even if the Super Cup and the start of the championship are near. But this is a situation that stimulates me and, from what I have already seen, stimulates the team also."
On the imminent swap deal involving Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Samuel Eto'o, Mourinho commented: "Samuel is equal to Ibra, it will be a more balanced team. Only a stupid coach would say he's not sorry to lose the Swede, but the same goes for a coach who doesn't approve of his substitute. Samuel knows this. I wanted him when I was at Chelsea, but Barça said no at the time. Now you will have to ask Barcelona why they have decided to do without him. I wasn't expecting this deal and this is the reason why I said Ibra would have stayed. But 50 million plus Eto'o for Ibra is an extraordinary deal. If I talk as a coach I can't be happy about losing Ibrahimovic, but from an economic and business point of view it's a great deal. We have lost a top player and brought in another."
But the two players are impossible to compare, as Mourinho explained: "If I talk as a coach and a man I say that I don't want to lose this player. If I talk as a manager, I say that Inter have done a great deal. If Ibra is worth 50 million, Eto'o isn't worth 49. Ibrahimovic is better with the ball at his feet. Eto'o is better when the ball is in space. They are two completely different players. He's not just a striker who scores, he plays football very well and is used to pressing very high and we can do that now with a defender like Lucio."
Mourinho said he didn't give Ibra any particular advice for the continuation of his career. "I spoke with him a few days before the final decision," said the Inter coach. "I told him that if he wins the Champions League with Barcelona he won't have done anything extraordinary because the Catalans have won it twice in three years. I like doing something extraordinary, not normal. He has this dream and he wanted to leave. He told me that he will miss me, and I told him exactly the same thing. He's going to a club that I worked at for four years. Barcelona is an extraordinary club and he will be happy there."
The Portuguese also commented on the arrival of Lucio: "It wasn't a drama not to have Deco and Carvalho. I'm not blaming the club. There was a difference of 20 million between the project and the real negotiations, so we changed direction. I indicated that Bayern Munich had four central defenders, but I didn't think they would give up Lucio. So when Marco Branca called me to tell me that there was this possibility, I said immediately: 'fantastic'. As for Hleb, he's not a born playmaker but he has played in that role many times and he's a midfielder that we need. He can give velocity to our manoeuvre."
Mourinho believes that Maicon is key to Inter's success, while Balotelli can become one of the best strikers around. "My opinion is that if we want to have ambition we can't lose a player like Maicon. He's the best right-back. Mario can become fantastic but he's not at the moment. He has to learn that he has to be a phenomenon on an off the pitch and sometimes I feel alone in this battle. He has to learn to be more humble and more open with me and with his companions."
But for now there is a new season looming, a new season in which each person will be crucial to the success of the new Inter. "The key men are the fans, then there's the president and then us, the team," said Mourinho. "One thing is sure: myself and the president work together and he knows that I like working with this team."