Yesterday we saw two cup finals take place. The matches may have been on different scales but, nevertheless, the victories were equally important. Ian Holloway and Jose Mourinho led their respective sides to cup glory as Blackpool and Milan celebrated historic climaxes to their seasons.
Inter Milan completed the treble as they added the Champions League to the Serie A and Italian Cup trophies they had already won. The Italian side played their trademark football as despite only having only 40% of the possession they still overcame Bayern Munich to win 2-0. A Milito double combined with Inter's characteristically resolute defence left the German champions, who were going for a treble of their own, with little response.
Mourinho admitted that the style of play was not pretty but stated that you play to your team's strengths. With an experienced squad of older players that lacked pace and flare Mourinho has managed to create tactics to suit them perfectly. He and his side's ethos has come under criticism but the results it has achieved speak for themselves.
I said a month or so ago that I would not be surprised if Mourinho brought silverware to the San Siro and then left and this seems to be almost certainly the case. After the match the Portuguese manager made little effort to conceal the fact he will be most likely making the Santiago Bernabeu, the scene for his win last night, his new home. He has won all there is to win in Italy and is now going to attempt to restore Real Madrid's position at the top of world football. His character and personality should be suited to the big names at the club but he will have to reinvent his approach to the game. Real is not a club built on defensive football and so this will mark an end to Mourinho's defence minded tactics in favour of open, free-flowing, total football.
Meanwhile, another flamboyant manager, Ian Holloway, secured what will be seen as many to be an even greater feat as he propelled Blackpool into the top tier of English football. The outspoken manager made his return to football at Blackpool having been sacked as manager of Leicester City and has delivered the unthinkable. The Seasiders were one of the bookies favourites for the drop at the start of the season and yet 10 months later and they are lifting the Championship Play-off Cup. The club only just sneaked into the play-offs with their 6th place finish before then knocking out Nottingham Forest to reach the final. Their 3-2 win over Cardiff City at Wembley yesterday ended a 39 year wait for a return to the top flight and is estimated to be worth £90 million for the club.
Away from his lad-like comments and jovial nature Ian Holloway has done a superb job at Bloomfield Road. He, unlike Mourinho, has favoured attacking football and the tactics he has used, the confidence he has instilled in the squad and the consequent success he has now achieved have been nothing short of remarkable. Their promotion is already being hailed as a fairytale season and although Holloway may not look like a Prince Charming he has, nonetheless, robeen the he story.
Mourinho may be moving on it seems but Holloway will not be going anywhere. His work at Blackpool is far from finished as he will have to strengthen the squad and advance the whole club if he is to achieve what will be perhaps an even more remarkable feat of keeping the Tangerines in the Premiership.
Thoughts, comments and opinions please...