Mourinho must maintain fluid football pledge

ROME - Jose Mourinho knows he must come good on his pledge to make Inter Milan play fluid attacking football if their Serie A title defence, which starts at home against Bari on Sunday, is to be successful.

The Portuguese coach promised eye-catching stuff when he arrived last year but his side frequently ended up relying on flashes of brilliance from Zlatan Ibrahimovic to make up for collective failings in his debut season at the San Siro.

This is no longer an option after the Sweden striker joined Barcelona in exchange for Samuel Eto'o in July.

"I think the most important thing for a team is a well defined philosophy of play and we can certainly say we have that," Mourinho told the club's TV channel.

"Without taking anything away from what we won in the past, last season we played some great games, but without much consistency."

Mourinho recognises that while Eto'o is as good a forward as Ibrahimovic, he is more in need of quality play around him to be effective.

"Ibrahimovic is better with the ball at his feet, Eto'o is better when the ball is in space," he said. "They are totally different players."

Mourinho is encouraged by what he saw in pre-season friendlies and in the Italian Super Cup in Beijing, when his side were unlucky to be beaten 2-1 by Lazio. But he concedes there is still lots to do.

"I've seen quality play, but things are not automatic yet," the former Porto and Chelsea boss said. "The squad is mature and tactically aware, now we need to work to make everything natural."

Argentine striker Diego Milito and Brazilian midfielder Thiago Motta joined from Genoa in the close season and Inter are close to signing Real Madrid's Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, according to media reports.

The most important reinforcement, however, may turn out to be Brazil captain Lucio, who has moved from Bayern Munich.

"With a defender like Lucio, we'll be able to set the whole team further forward," Mourinho said.

His main concern is that Argentine midfielder Esteban Cambiasso is likely to be out until October after knee surgery, which may prompt Mourinho to use Patrick Vieira in the holding role in front of the defence.

Promoted Bari travel to the San Siro after American real estate businessman Timothy Barton signed a preliminary agreement to buy the southern club earlier this week.

Last year's runners-up Juventus entertain Chievo Verona later on Sunday and AC Milan visit Siena on Saturday.