Italian Serie A

Mourinho hails his Scudetto-winning Inter players

May 18, 2009

Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho likened winning the Serie A title this season to "an 11-month holiday" after his side celebrated their 17th Scudetto with a 3-0 win at home to Siena on Sunday night.

Mourinho's first year in charge of the Nerazzurri resulted in a successful defence of the title they had won three times in a row under his predecessor Roberto Mancini, and the Portuguese coach was modest regarding his own contribution to the success.

"I have been on holiday here for 11 months," he said. "I have just been lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

"That has happened 14 times in the last six years that I have been lucky to be on the right bench.

"It has been like an 11-month holiday in a great country. In November and December, I thought I was in St Moritz."

Inter were crowned champions before kicking a ball after AC Milan lost to Udinese on Saturday.

Mourinho and his players were celebrating the title until 3am the night before the game with Siena, but the Portuguese insisted his side were still 100% focused on picking up another win in the game.

"Sometimes joy is more important than sleeping a lot," he said. "I had hoped that we could get the party over with last night and so it was.

"I trained the team at 11am this morning and they were concentrated and understood that a Scudetto-winning party without a win at a full-house San Siro would have been bizarre.

"They knew they had to take the game seriously and win."

Inter do still have targets to play for, as forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic attempts to be crowned Serie A top-scorer.

His goal last night put him one shy of Marco Di Vaio on 22, but he could have matched the Italian had Mario Balotelli squared the ball to Ibrahimovic when the pair were both through on goal.

Despite Mourinho's orders to help the Swede reach the target, Balotelli went on to score himself, much to the anger of Ibrahimovic.

But Mourinho refused to reprimand the youngster.

"Halfway through the game, I told my players it was important to play for Ibrahimovic," explained Mourinho. "His objective to become the top scorer is not only individual but also the team has got to do more if we all wanted this.

"He was angry after the goal from Balotelli, but Balotelli is not nasty, he's just naive. He was in front of goal and wanted to score and so he forgot my words. You cannot criticise Mario, not even for this, because he's a great lad."

Mourinho also backed his player to overtake his Bologna rival now the pressure had been taken off Inter with the Scudetto win.

"(Bologna) are a team under pressure. Ibrahimovic plays in a team which has a game at Cagliari and then at home to Atalanta and who can make small adjustments to try and create chances to bring him closer to the goal," he said.

"It is not an obsession, though. The obsession was to win the league and Ibrahimovic has been one of the big stars of the season and if we can help him to become the top scorer, then we have got to try it."

Looking ahead to next season Mourinho revealed he would like "one more attacker, two midfielders and one defender" as he predicted a tougher route to the title next time out.

"I respect my rivals who have made winning so hard and maybe next year, they will make it even harder," he said.

"Maybe next year it is they who are celebrating while we are sat at home sad."