Serie A

Mourinho maintains Inter’s Scudetto stranglehold - Serie A in 2008/09

12:00pm on Monday 6th April 2020
Martin Macdonald

The most talked-about signing of the summer of 2008 was not a player but a coach, and Jose Mourinho lived up to his nickname as ‘The Special One’ by leading Inter to another Serie A title in commanding fashion. Juventus and AC Milan put up decent challenges but they both finished 10 points behind the Nerazzurri.

Inter’s triumph was a testament to Mourinho’s man-management skills, with the Portuguese helping the talented but inconsistent Zlatan Ibrahimovic achieve a new level of efficacy.

He also made a crucial tactical tweak in moving Diego Stankovic into a No.10 role, as well as successfully harnessing the raw talent of an exciting young striker by the name of Mario Balotelli, who ended the season as the Nerazzurri’s second top-scorer in the league, with eight goals.


With Roberto Mancini having fallen out of favour with Inter president Massimo Moratti because of the coach’s failure to turn domestic dominance into European success, the Nerazzurri turned to Mourinho and made three big signings for their new boss: Ricardo Quaresma, Sulley Muntari and Alessandro Faiolhe Amantino (a.k.a. Mancini).

Meanwhile, city rivals Milan pulled off a major coup by signing Brazil superstar Ronaldinho, who had been deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona, while at the same time bringing Andriy Shevchenko back to San Siro on a one-year loan from Chelsea.

Unfortunately, it quickly became apparent that both men were past their best, particularly Shevchenko, who didn’t score a single goal in 18 Serie A games.

Juventus also erred in picking up Palermo's prolific forward Amauri, who ultimately proved a colossal waste of money at 22.8m despite a decent first season in Turin.

Elsewhere, Roma brought in John-Arne Riise, Jeremy Menez and Julio Baptista, Lazio took Mauro Zarate on loan from Al Sadd, while Fiorentina made an inspired signing in buying Stevan Jovetic from Partizan Belgrade for €8m.


Despite losing their opening two games, Milan were top by the 10th matchday, thanks in no small part to a derby win over Inter that came courtesy of Ronaldinho.

However, neither the Rossoneri nor the Brazilian demonstrated sufficient consistency over the course of the campaign to stop Inter, who went top in week 11 and never looked back.

Juve, meanwhile, thrice went on five-game winning streaks but their title challenge collapsed in April, when they went seven matches without a victory, a rotten run of form which resulted in the sacking of Claudio Ranieri as coach.

Former fan favourite Ciro Ferrara was installed as caretaker coach for the Bianconeri’s final two outings of the season, against Siena and Lazio, won both and, thus, landed the job on a full-time basis.

Serie A Player of the Year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Carlo Ancelotti saw out the season in Milan but he announced the end of his eight-year stint at San Siro just hours after Milan’s final game of the season, against Fiorentina, with the Rossoneri’s defeat at Udinese on matchday 36 having already gifted the title to Inter.

Zlatan promptly paid tribute to Mourinho in typically self-aggrandising manner: "When I look at him, I see myself: a person with the same winning mentality.”

Mourinho, for his part, merely revelled in the fact that with Inter retaining the Scudetto, and Lazio lifting the Coppa Italia, the Nerazzurri’s principal rivals, Juventus and Milan had, as he predicted, ended up with “zeru tituli” (the Portuguese’s infamous pronunciation of ‘zero titoli’).




A second successive victory for the Swede, who was head and shoulders above every other player in Serie A. Indeed, Ibrahimovic didn’t just score prolifically, he also racked up numerous assists as he developed into the complete centre-forward.



The Portuguese was unsurprisingly rewarded for masterminding Inter’s Scudetto success, with his decision to abandon his preferred 4-3-3 in favour of a fluid 4-4-2 formation having proven integral to their title triumph.



The Swedish striker has since admitted that he had been upset by Mourinho’s emotionless response to his goalscoring excellence during the 2008-09 campaign. It was only when he saw the Portuguese maniacally celebrating his Capocannoniere-clinching goal against Atalanta on the final day of the season that he realised that Mourinho had made him angry in order to draw the very best out of the enigmatic forward.


There was no better illustration of the impudent genius of ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC than his beautiful back-heeled volley against Bologna at San Siro.



Barcelona to MILAN



After giving their title rivals a flicker hope with a run of two points from three games in April, Inter needed a win when they hosted Lazio at San Siro at the start of May. Fittingly, Zlatan soothed their nerves by netting the opener in a crucial 2-0 win over Lazio that put the Nerazzurri’s title charge firmly back on track.

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