All roads lead to Rome and the trophy that matters to Moratti

Champions League has become an obsession at a club where European success has been in short supply since the Sixties, writes Pete Jenson
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The Independent Online

New team, same obsession. When Jose Mourinho is presented as Internazionale's new coach at the club's Angelo Moratti training complex this morning his remit will be simple – win the Champions League.

Not since Angelo Moratti himself was president and the glorious side of the sixties reigned supreme has the Milan club lifted the European Cup. Angelo's son, Massimo Moratti, is now president and he wants European football's biggest prize.

Mourinho ran out of time with Roman Abramovich after failing to win it with Chelsea, and now he has three years at an estimated £7.1m a season in which to win it for Moratti.

Only Abramovich has spent more money in the transfer market than the Italian oil tycoon, who has hired and fired some of Europe's top coaches and made no end of high-profile signings. All have tried but failed to deliver the goods outside Italy.

Moratti twice broke the world transfer record in the 1990s as Inter tried to break the dominance of their neighbours, Milan, and Juventus. But the capture of Ronaldo from Barcelona and Christian Vieri from Lazio did not put them back on top.

Under Roberto Mancini domestic dominance has been restored, with three consecutive league titles, the first won in the courthouse courtesy of Juventus' wrongdoings. But Mancini fell short in Europe. This season Inter were knocked out of the Champions League, 3-0 on aggregate, by Liverpool.

Mourinho harbours ambitions to win the title in each of the major football leagues in Europe but matching Mancini by winning Serie A will not be enough for his employers. Inter are the only club in Italian football never to have been out of the top division, but the European Cup has not been theirs since 1965. In the middle of their most illustrious decade Inter beat Benfica 1-0 at San Siro, a triumph that followed the previous season's 1-0 defeat of Real Madrid in Vienna.

Given such a fine European pedigree, albeit one that is now so far back in the club's history, Mourinho will be judged on what he is doing on 27 May 2009 – leading out Inter at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome in the Champions League final, or cursing another disappointment.

Mancini leaves Mourinho with a team built on shrewd signings rather than big spending. Free transfers like Esteban Cambiasso – signed from Real Madrid in 2004 – have typified such cheap but successful acquisitions. The wingers Luis Figo and Santiago Solari were also signed from Madrid after being considered surplus to requirements and Patrick Vieira arrived from Arsenal via Juventus as part of the post match-fixing scandal clear-out.

Some of those signings are now approaching the end of their careers. The strikers Hernan Crespo and Adriano, for instance, are unlikely to be a part of Mourinho's plans, despite Adriano's comments this week that the Portuguese once tried to sign him for Chelsea.

Moratti has already hinted that new faces will be coming, and having made Mourinho the highest paid coach in football, it would be strange not to back him financially. Aside from looking to old friends from Porto and Chelsea, Mourinho's fondness for a local core to his team might also influence his transfers.

Only four of the current Inter squad, however, are Italian. It is perhaps fitting, then, that Mourinho looks set to be Serie A's only non-Italian coach next season.

Follow the leader Three top talents in Mourinho’s sights

SAMUEL ETO’O

Coveted by Mourinho when the Special One was at Chelsea, the Cameroonian has fallen out with Barcelona, who accuse of him of lacking commitment. His sometimes capricious behaviour would, however, not endear him to Mourinho, who likes to keep the capricious behaviour all to himself.

DECO

Like Eto’o’s people, the Barcelona midfielder’s are already in talks to take him to Internazionale. Mourinho will presumably approve, having relied on the playmaker’s match-winning creativity during his glory, glory days at Porto, where the fans referred to the Portuguese international as “Magico”.

MICHAEL ESSIEN

Almost the first thing Chelsea’s midfielder-cum-defender heard after the Champions League final was a message from Mourinho telling him he wanted the Ghanaian to join him at Inter. Reports suggest that a move to lure him from the Bridge would depend on the Eto’o or Deco deal falling through.

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