Fabio Capello rushed to Inter’s defence, assuring “I’d rather win than lose while playing entertaining football.”
The Nerazzurri are top of the table with five consecutive victories, though four of them were 1-0 and showed only rare bursts of creativity.
Critics have complained about the style of their approach, but La Gazzetta dello Sport published a rebuttal from Capello with the headline: ‘The beauty of being ugly.’
“I should note that with Milan we won four consecutive titles from 1992 to 1996, but only the third was won with a limited number of goals.
“We had an extraordinary defence and in 1993-94 it was the strength of our back line that proved decisive. Having said that, a 1-0 is to be respected.
“I think people should reflect more before slamming 1-0 as a grey result. It contains three truths: a team has won, was able to keep a clean sheet and fought to protect the goal. The overall level of teams has improved in recent years, so it’s tougher than ever to bring home three points.
“I respect Roberto Mancini and consider him a great Coach, because he gets clubs to buy the players he wants and can also adapt to the material at his disposal. As the saying goes, you produce wine with the grapes you have.”
Another former Milan Coach, Arrigo Sacchi, heralded the debate over Inter’s victories as a sign Italian football was no longer purely interested in the result, but wanted good football too.
“The ideal would be to win and entertain,” replied Capello. “However, if we don’t recognise today’s football is tied to business, then we’ll go nowhere.
“There are clubs who cannot afford to miss out on the Champions League. For others, relegation is akin to bankruptcy.
“If it’s between winning without entertaining and losing while playing entertaining football, I always choose the former. I think that’s what the majority of fans want too.”
Capello also had words of reassurance for Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who has too been accused of ‘winning ugly.’
“I respect Mourinho because he always has clear ideas. He knows where he wants to go and what to do. For the same reason, I like Sinisa Mihajlovic. I spoke to him in Dubai and realised he’s got the right mentality to go far.”
As for the end of so-called defensive Italian football, Capello agrees with Fabio Cannavaro that it’s through necessity rather than choice.
“Players defend worse than they used to. Almost everyone panics when placed in a one-on-one situation. It’s because training doesn’t focus on specific aspects anymore. You just need to see the positioning of the body in a one-on-one to know the problem stems from academies.”