Former New York Yankees pitcher Vernon ‘Lefty’ Gomez once famously remarked ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’, and this is a sentiment that could well be applied to Inter’s Saturday night victory over Udinese.
It was a very entertaining game, and one which could have been won by either side right until the final minutes when Wesley Sneijder’s calm finish won it for the Nerazzurri. It was not a commanding performance from Inter, and will once again cause many people to question whether they are as good as the team that won the Scudetto last season. But with Juventus losing to Palermo, la Beneamata find themselves at the top of the table after seven matches where they have not yet (except against Milan) found top form. After all, it doesn’t matter whether you win 10-0 or 2-1 whilst not performing well – you get three points either way.
Perhaps the biggest positive to come out of the game was the attitude and desire that Inter showed after the poor Champions League performance in midweek. The late goal was simply the deserved reward for their desire to win the game when they could have easily settled for a draw after coming under some heavy pressure from the Zebrette. Dejan Stankovic, the scorer of Inter’s first goal, was effusive in his praise of the side and in no doubt as to the reason for the victory, saying: “we won thanks to the group, our pride and our courage.” Coach Jose Mourinho was a very pleased – and very relieved – man after the game, praising Sneijder and saying: “when a goal comes at that point [in the game] you know it closes the match, the team deserved it.” He went on to sum the game up quite well, calling it “the victory of character, with a bit of good luck.”
A concern for Inter is that Diego Milito, who was substituted in the first half after picking up an injury, will be out for up to a month with a muscle strain in his right leg. This is a worry because the Argentine striker has been by far the most consistent goal threat for the champions so far this season. With him out it will be up to Samuel Eto’o to step up and find some consistency, and show the crowd at the Giuseppe Meazza that he is the man to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic. So far this season Eto’o has flattered to deceive, showing his quality only in flashes but this is his chance to prove himself as Inter’s number one striker, taking control of a frontline that suddenly looks rather weak. Of course, the other player that stands to gain from Milito’s injury is David Suazo. The Honduran striker made a rare appearance towards the end of the game on Saturday and is no doubt desperate to prove that he deserves more playing time. This could be his last chance to prove himself in the Nerazzurro colours.
Speaking of players that may be leaving Inter, Patrick Vieira has issued a warning to Mourinho that he expects to be playing or he will seek to move clubs. It is a tough proposition for the former Arsenal captain to break into a midfield where Esteban Cambiasso, Thaigo Motta, Wesley Sneijder and Sulley Muntari are all above him in the pecking order. “If things don’t change, then I will have no choice but to make my own decisions. If things stay the same, then I will leave Inter during the winter transfer window. Not playing often represents a problematic situation for me.” Vieira has been recently linked with a return to Arsenal in recent weeks, and with these comments it seems very likely that he will move on in January.
Following Jose Mourinho’s comments about Juventus’ alleged preferential treatment in the Italian media last week, the Bianconeri coach, Ciro Ferrara, has felt the need to return fire at the Portuguese tactician. “I have asked myself why Mourinho has something to say about Juventus every week and I’ve tried to find an explanation. I want the rivalry with Inter to be on the pitch. Mourinho isn’t stupid, I am not a fool. I have always tried to focus on my team, but after two or three occasions where I avoided speaking out, this time I have said what I think.”
Heading into the international break, la Beneamata can be very pleased with the position in which they find themselves. Now topping the Serie A table without playing anywhere near their best football, the other teams in the league must be wondering if it is possible to overthrow a team that, domestically at least, seem to have the knack of coming out on top.
Inter Club Focus 2009/10
Another Scudetto for the Nerazzurri? – August 18, 2009
A stuttering start, and a Portuguese explosion – August 25, 2009
It’s derby time – August 28, 2009
A wonderful derby but the champions of Europe are waiting – September 1, 2009
All is well for la Beneamata – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Friendlies, injuries and stolen boots… – September 7, 2009
Nerazzurri look to the future as Ibra looks back – September 11, 2009
Inter get a point, but that’s not the point – September 18, 2009
They never had a problem with ugly wins – September 22, 2009
Partenopei are beaten Black and Blue – September 25, 2009
Blucerchiati run rings round Inter – September 29, 2009
Champions League? You’re having a laugh – October 2, 2009
I’d rather be lucky than good – October 6, 2009