ROME – Whatever Inter end up with at the end of the season, 2009/10 will be a campaign to remember for José Mourinho. "Winning zero titles is neither a drama nor a shame, for us or anyone else," said the Inter coach in his Tim Cup final press conference. "What’s important is that you have worked your best. The difference between winning and not winning is small. We have arrived in the final of the Coppa Italia, the final of the Champions League and we’re in the race for the Scudetto until the last game, so I don’t ask for respect, I demand it. If we have arrived at this stage we don’t deserve respect, but we demand it. The woman (Roma president Rosella Sensi) might be a president, might be a graduate, might have been born in a golden cradle, but she should give us respect. If we win three titles, it’s historic. If we win two, it’s positive. If we win nothing, there’s no shame. Italian football, with the irony of destiny, will hope Inter wins in Madrid so it doesn’t lose a team in the Champions League."
Inter return to the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow night after their weekend victory over Lazio. "Last Sunday we played with almost the same team that played against Barcelona," said Mourinho. "We took a risk with Sneijder and he won’t play tomorrow. And we have lost Lucio as well. We took risks and played our best team. We’re not saving players for the final in Madrid. We have games against Chievo and Siena, they are all important games. I have won five league titles and I have never won with difficulty. I have always said that I want the pressure of playing until the last game for the title because it’s much better than winning with a lead of 20 points with five games left until the end.
"Sunday at Lazio was a difficult day for me. I knew that I had to win, that I would lose the Scudetto if I didn’t. We played in Barcelona and we came to Rome with question marks about several players and I had to prepare a team to play a difficult game. It was a day of pressure for me. If there are two sets of fans who are friends, it’s fine. This happens all over the world. This is football. If there’s a problem between fans it’s not a problem of mine. My players played with the extra pressure of playing every three days: Lazio, the cup final, then Chievo, without stopping. We have played a minimum of ten games more than all the others. It makes me laugh when I hear certain things, because the ex-Inter players always play the games of their lives against us.
"The absence of Sneijder? Inter can play with different systems. We can even change formation, but Stankovic can play in his position. There are no dramas."
The Nerazzurri have a chance to banish the ghost of the fifth of May with a victory over Roma in the cup final, but Mourinho knows it won’t be an easy game. "The quality of Roma’s players will make the difference. Two years ago they were in the championship race until the end and they did well in the Champions League. Last year they didn’t do very well but they played quality football against us. And this year, with their experience and quality, it was clear from the start of the season that they would be a rival. They were quite far behind in the league at the start but it was logical that they would be among the top four teams. Then they improved and took advantage of a period that made me stop doing press conferences, and I think we all know why I stopped going to press conferences…
"It has been a nice season for them. They’re in the final of the Coppa Italia and they are fortunate to play it at home in their stadium. In the Europa League, which is not a hard competition to win when you look at the finalists, Roma had a game against Panathinaikos. That was negative but apart from that it has been a good season for them.
"The fifth of May? I remember the fifth of May for one thing: the death of Napoleon Bonaparte. Tomorrow is a match between the two strongest teams in Italy. Me and my players only want to win, nothing else. I hope it’s a great match for us and for the Inter fans, who are living a unique moment. The Interisti want to be happy tomorrow and they want to show their support. They are only here to be happy and they will come here with one objective: to win. If we don’t, we come home with no problems. The world won’t end if we lose.
"When I came to Italy, I received a message that said the Coppa Italia wasn’t important, that it is played with players who don’t play in the league. I played my first Coppa game with important players. I think I have changed the mentality of the Coppa Italia. We have always respected this competition and we have always played important teams to get to the final. In Portugal, France and England they play on neutral grounds. Here, it’s in Rome, but we’re not making a drama of this."
If Mourinho does the treble, will he consider himself the greatest manager in the world? "No. I have won three titles in the same season before, so it would be the second time," he responded. "I don’t consider myself the best, but one who gives his best and goes home after every game and sleeps well, because I always give my best." And when asked if will remain at Inter at 100%, the Portuguese replied: "No. In football you can’t say anything."