APPIANO GENTILE - With immense clarity, José Mourinho explained how his team will be in 2009/10. "It's a good team that is ready to begin the new championship without any alibis," the Inter coach told a packed press conference ahead of Sunday's Serie A opener against Bari. "It's a new group with 50% of players who have only been with us for a month and a half, but it's a team with a very detailed philosophy of play that we all like.
"We are a team. We were last year too but we are different now. We have a different quality of play which in my opinion is a lot better, but now the time has come to transform this quality into something very objective, and objectivity in football is expressed by winning and earning points.
"During the championship the time will come when we'll have to defend and accept a defeat or a draw, but basically, the mental structure of this team is to play well and I think that all the friendlies we have played so far - matches that for me don't mean much in terms of the result - have helped us improved our automatisms. We'll need more time, but there's no time in football. Tomorrow's match will be hard. We play against a newly promoted team that arrives in Serie A with a winning mentality and a very high level of confidence."
The Italian champions open their defence of the title without a key player in Esteban Cambiasso. But for Mourinho, there are plenty of options to compensate for the Argentine's absence. "Without him, I have two other possibilities to keep using a diamond midfield: use Stankovic behind the strikers or Vieira or Zanetti as inside midfielders in the diamond formation," said Mourinho.
On the possible arrival of Sneijder, Mourinho remarked: "I don't know, but if we don't have a half-striker we will have another suitable one who is Stankovic. If one day he is not available we will play in a different way. For now I don't want to think about anything else. Tomorrow we have a match to play and there are twenty players called up. I have no doubts about my starting eleven that will go on the pitch at the Stadio Meazza, I have no doubts about who will be on the bench and I just want to concentrate on this game, which isn't easy."
Inevitably, there were questions about the tit-for-tat of recent days between the Inter coach and Italy boss Marcello Lippi. "If I were Portugal coach and they asked me for a prediction, I wouldn't give one," said Mourinho, who also commented on Spalletti's remarks that he lacked respect for Roma. "I spoke after a game between Inter and Roma in which he lacked respect for us," explained Mourinho. "I advise him to remember what he said in his press conference and, above all, to work better because he could win the championship with the team that he has. I have heard the noise of the enemies in these days, but it has never been a problem for me. It is more a challenge. Now I agree with Mr Lippi in saying that it's all over."
Mourinho wrapped up his first pre-match press conference of the league season by commenting on Nicolas Burdisso, who hasn't been called up to face Bari, Antonio Cassano, Patrick Vieira and Juve coach Ciro Ferrara: "Any decision on Burdisso's future is up to the club. I wouldn't take Cassano because he scored against Inter just like Acquafresca did, while Milito didn't. Vieira has amazed me. Despite me being clear with him, he has never lost heart. He asked for the chance to train and show his worth, and he hasn't missed a minute's work. Ciro Ferrara said that with certain declarations of mine I showed that I am scared of Juventus? Yes, yes..."