Today is Republic Day in Italy Ã¢ÂÂ a chance to commemorate the birth of a new nation and, more importantly, a Monday off for everyone.Everyone expect those Inter minions who have to organise the press conference to finally unveil Jose Mourinho.ItÃ¢ÂÂs the biggest draw not only in Milan but all over the country. Like Juventus, Inter have fans the length and breath of the peninsula and they canÃ¢ÂÂt wait for the Special One to take over if a straw poll of those enjoying the bank holiday weekend in the sunshine on the island of Lipari is anything to go by.Situated off the northern coast of Sicily, Lipari is the largest of the Aeolian Islands - as far away from the hustle and pollution of Milan as you can get, but just as Nerazzurri mad.There are only about 9,000 inhabitants on this idyllic retreat but a large portion proclaim their love for the black and blues and are all for the changes afoot away up in the misty, damp north.In the bars around the pretty harbour of Marina Corta on Sunday morning the general consensus was that Roberto Mancini had been the favoured son who fell out with dad because he couldnÃ¢ÂÂt grow up and dad had to find a man for a manÃ¢ÂÂs job.All very macho and Sicilian but, lo and behold, didnÃ¢ÂÂt Massimo Moratti come out with pretty much the same thing when he gave a quick sound bite to the press later that afternoon.Ã¢ÂÂI like Mourinho because of his professionalism and his experience, and with him in charge there will be less suffering and success will be much easier,Ã¢ÂÂ were his exact words.However, the inference was that Mancini had not been professional: telling the world he was resigning; or experienced: all that in-fighting with the players.Ã¢ÂÂMourinho will whip them into shape,Ã¢ÂÂ seemed to be the party line from the die-hards. There was a time in Italy, not so long ago, when footballers were truly revered but thatÃ¢ÂÂs no more, especially for the old codgers who you feel wouldnÃ¢ÂÂt be too dismayed if a certain Mr. Mussolini was still around.Maybe a change of demographic would yield some sympathy for Mancio and certainly for the young generation there were mixed feelings at his departure.Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂs won us the last two titles and heÃ¢ÂÂs stuck it to Juventus,Ã¢ÂÂ was one comment on his lasting legacy. However, it was forwards and onwards and whether their new heroes would be Deco, Lampard and EtoÃ¢ÂÂo.It took the female folk to get right to the heart of the matter as they gazed on those smouldering eyes and grey locks, in a Saturday edition of Gazzetta dello Sport, at the Portuguese chap on a photo op with Moratti in Paris.Ã¢ÂÂHe looks like someone who knows what he wants and knows how to get it,Ã¢ÂÂ was the gist of their longing.Maybe dear old Massimo had been thinking the very same thing.
After weeks of placid quietude, Edmundo has had another outburst. After missing a crucial penalty kick in the Copa do Brasil semi-final, our very own Animal shaved his head and announced his retirement on Thursday. I donÃ¢ÂÂt remember what I had for lunch yesterday. But I do remember EdmundoÃ¢ÂÂs performance at penalty kicks. Below par, to say it with the due respect the former Brazilian international deserves.So I couldnÃ¢ÂÂt believe it when I saw him walking up to the penalty spot once again Ã¢ÂÂ this time in the Vasco vs Sport shootout on Wednesday.He had just netted VascoÃ¢ÂÂs second goal - in the 91st minute - which tied the aggregate score and took the game to penalties. So, even if his team didnÃ¢ÂÂt go through, the 37-year-old was going to be praised for getting them that far.But things seldom end well with Edmundo. As he strolled up to the spot you could see what the fans were thinking. Ã¢ÂÂNo, not him! Please no.Ã¢ÂÂ In other words: you could see the train wreck around the corner, but couldnÃ¢ÂÂt warn the driver.The Animal then punted the ball on to the Copacabana and Sport got their ticket to face Corinthians in the final Ã¢ÂÂ more about this game next week Ã¢ÂÂ by winning the shootout 5-4. Oh, and last year Edmundo had also caused Palmeiras' elimination from the same Copa do Brasil by missing a penalty in the shootout against minnows Ipatinga.
On Thursday, a smugger looking version of SeinfeldÃ¢ÂÂs George Costanza banged on the drawbridge doors of the Kingdom of Catalunya carrying a very large box indeed. It wasnÃ¢ÂÂt elevenses being delivered to the BarÃÂ§a board, but 9,473 signatures which will trigger a supporterÃ¢ÂÂs referendum on the future of Lord LaportaÃ¢ÂÂs reign.
With two games to go the domestic league is wide open, with six teams within six points of each other. But however important it is to Argentine football fans for their team to win the championship, each would gladly lose the title to their arch rivals on the last day of the season 20 times over in exchange for a Copa Libertadores in their dusty cabinets.