Jose Mourinho is undoubtedly a master of mind games. At Chelsea, he preached trench mentality - making out that the whole football world was against the club - which galvanised his team's sense of togetherness, evidenced by two Premier League titles. The Portuguese manager contined that policy in his two seasons at Inter Milan, often berating the press - or refusing to speak to them - while verbally attacking his fellow managers.
Now it seems he is taking a different approach. Unimpressed with his team's display in Sunday night's 1-1 draw against Roma in Serie A, Mourinho took to outright criticism of his players - and, of course, the referee. "It has been an awful game from everyone," he said. "There was a team that was unable to win, another team that didn't want to win and someone else [the referee] who made too many calls."
The Nerazzurri had gone into the game at the San Siro on the back of five consecutive victories but struggled to beat Roma's well-placed defence. Mirko Vucinic put Roma ahead in the 13th minute but Samuel Eto'o earned Inter a point early in the second half, which leaves Inter still five points ahead of Juventus at the top of Serie A Inter youngster Mario Balotelli, who replaced Patrick Vieira at half-time, took the brunt of the criticism.
"Balotelli? In my opinion he came close to a zero rating," said Mourinho. "I didn't like how he played. He is 19 but could have done much better." Mourinho did not believe the game had hurt his side in the title race, though. "I didn't like the game," he said. "The only thing that I liked was the result. We took a point at home against a team that has quality like Roma and that is fine." Meanwhile, AC Milan-bound David Beckham will miss England's friendly against Brazil in Qatar on Saturday after the midfielder extended his season with the Los Angeles Galaxy as they reached the Major League Soccer Western Conference final with a victory over local rivals Chivas USA.
The Galaxy progressed to Friday night's game against Houston Dynamo with a 1-0 second-leg win over Chivas at the Home Depot Centre. They are just one game away from the MLS Cup final which decides the league champions. Beckham had sent in a defence-splitting pass to Landon Donovan that led to Mike Magee being felled for the game-winning penalty, but he was forced out of the action five minutes later having struggled from a knock to his lower back. Beckham had ice strapped to the problem area and watched from the bench as his teammates hung on to their lead against a late Chivas rally.
* With agencies