Inter implode, Roma rev up for the title

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Just as well that Italy closed down for two days giving Roberto Mancini a bit of time to lick his festering wounds.

Where did it all go wrong Roberto? The answer may lie in his demeanour after the weekend defeat to Juventus when his only response was a sarcastic: “Well, at least no one can say we are being favoured by the referees anymore.”

The match officials may not be doing the league leaders any favours – another player sent off in the midweek game at Genoa and Mauro Camoranesi’s opening goal for Juventus clearly offside – but neither the coach nor his players are doing their cause any good.

After walking out in a strop following the Champions League exit to Liverpool and announcing he was resigning at the end of the season before going back on his word, it’s clear that Mancio has lost the dressing-room support he once enjoyed.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic apparently mouthed something along the lines of “We can’t wait until he clears off” when he was substituted against Palermo a few weeks ago.

And ever since, the players have looked like men condemned to be harangued by Jose Mourinho (although Nerazzurri fans enjoying their Easter Monday stroll could not wait for the Portuguese to take over and show the likes of the labouring Marco Materazzi and Nicholas Burdisso the door).

The pair turned in a disastrous show of defending against a lively but not exactly vintage Juve side, with Materazzi even managing to make Alessandro Del Piero look good.

Many believe that club owner Massimo Moratti should have dumped Mancini after the Liverpool defeat and brought in a caretaker-coach, leaving the players to effectively win the title for themselves.

Instead, even the previously unstoppable Javier Zanetti looks a spent force and with the captain unable to lift the team the title is all but lost.

Inter hold a four-point lead over AS Roma but their run-in is much more perilous.

They have to play Lazio and Fiorentina as well as city rivals AC Milan while the Romans have only Udinese and Sampdoria out of the top seven to face.

Roma captain Francesco Totti summed up the feeling in the capital when he said: “We have eight games to go and with each passing game the title is becoming a reality.”

For Inter it’s starting to turn into a nightmare of their own making.