Mourinho and Ronaldinho set to spice up Serie A
MILAN, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Jose Mourinho's arrival as Inter coach and AC Milan buying Ronaldinho should add extra flair to Serie A this season and prompt a more exciting title race.
Inter won their third straight scudetto with a pedestrian season only coming to life in the final weeks when they contrived to throw away an 11-point lead before edging AS Roma to the championship on the last day.
Coach Roberto Mancini paid the price for Inter's stuttering finish and was sacked by club president Massimo Moratti.
Mancini's outburst in March when he said he was quitting, before changing his mind, was another factor in the dismissal, as was Moratti's eagerness to work with the charismatic Mourinho.
The Portuguese had been linked with Inter ever since he left Chelsea last September so he had plenty of time to hone his plans ahead of the season starting this weekend.
'My Inter will play better than the opposition and win 3-0,' Mourinho said when predicting the outcome of each league match.
'This is a great group of players, an exceptional group.'
However, Mourinho is fully aware the squad is ageing with winger Luis Figo, 35, well past his best.
Mourinho's pursuit of Frank Lampard, with whom he won two Premier League titles at Chelsea, showed he wanted big reinforcements and the England player's decision to stay in London leaves Inter short of inspiration in midfield.
Brazilian winger Mancini has arrived from Roma but Mourinho's favoured three-pronged attack will not look complete unless Inter can prise target Ricardo Quaresma from Porto.
Milan did finally bag their number one target after months of talks with Barcelona but Ronaldinho has work to do if he can restore his reputation as one of the game's great entertainers.
He went badly off the boil in his last two seasons at Barca and Milan need the Brazilian to quickly rediscover his best form after they limped home fifth in May.
An ageing defence and lack of a world class goalkeeper hampered Carlo Ancelotti's side and could do again.
Milan last won Serie A in 2004 and their attack will have to carry the whole team if they are to mount a serious title tilt.
Playmaker Kaka was below par last season after suffering knee trouble and though his injury problems are not over, fans have high hopes for his partnership with Ronaldinho.
Andriy Shevchenko's return to the San Siro after a torrid two-year spell at Chelsea has also enthused Rossoneri supporters but they know the Ukraine striker is not the player he once was.
Juventus did well to finish third in their first season back in Serie A since their 2006 match-fixing demotion.
The 23 million euro ($34 million) purchase of Palermo striker Amauri puts Claudio Ranieri's side in the title running.
Fiorentina have also spent big, with former AC Milan striker Alberto Gilardino one of a raft of new signings. They will hope to at least repeat last season's fourth place.
Roma failed to persuade Fiorentina to sell skilful forward Adrian Mutu and could struggle having sold Mancini to Inter.
Napoli are the best outside bet for a Champions League spot after shrewd buys, including Sampdoria winger Christian Maggio.
Samp will miss Maggio but the permanent transfer of Antonio Cassano from Real Madrid means the crowd will stay entertained.