Serie A showdown something of a damp squib

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So in the end there was no massive bottling and historical choker from Inter.

In fact, it turned out to be something of a damp squib as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was unwrapped from cotton wool to provide the coup de grace.

It was a soggy old afternoon for any sporting event and tempers in and around Parma’s compact Tardini stadium were frayed almost to breaking point.

Zlatan settles Nerazzurri nerves 

The champions-elect are a surly bunch at any given time but they had been at their cantankerous best all week.

An air of paranoia had been heightened by leaked transcripts of telephone conversations between Roberto Mancini, a few Inter players and some sort of ‘Mr fix-it’ named Domenico Brescia – a tailor by trade who sorted out deals on cars, holidays and such like.

He may have been no more than a ‘hanger-on’ but he was also being investigated for his alleged part in a drug-running ring and had spent time in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.

While most of Italy shrugged their shoulders at the thought of a crook involved in football, the ever-so-clean Inter owner Massimo Moratti battened down the hatches and banned all media engagements by any member of the club’s staff.

Come Sunday and the dark mood had evidently transmitted itself to their coach driver who sent all and sundry scattering as he sped up to the gates of the Tardini.

Even though Parma council had banned Inter fans from attending due to security concerns, and in the interests of fairness as Roma followers had not been allowed to travel to Catania, there were still well over 1000 ultras inside the ground – some of whom had climbed fences and reportedly charged the turnstiles.

A further 5000 or so outside who had promised a ‘peaceful invasion’ got up close and personal with the local police in a series of running punch-ups which left one member of the local constabulary suffering a serious spleen injury while a number of premises had their windows smashed.

Not really a celebration of all that is good and wonderful about the game but more a final ‘up-yours’ to a world that cannot warm to Mancini’s preening moaners and Moratti’s aloof mutterings.

They even stopped the rest of the country enjoying the post-game party in the dressing room by barring cameras from what down through the seasons has become something of a tradition for television viewers.

Mancini maintained his own self-imposed silence well into the night but his players were more than willing to keep the ill-feeling simmering as they hit out at their detractors – but as they say “to the victor the spoils.”

Let’s hope they finally find time to enjoy the moment.