If there's a new feeling of buzz around the Italian Serie A this season, much of it comes down to two men who are walking, talking hype machines:
It's not a knock on either one; being able to generate buzz just by showing up and being among the very best in the world at what you do are not mutually exclusive qualities. It's just that when Mourinho is able to seduce the notoriously cynical Italian media in less than 48 hours and when Ronaldinho is able to bring 40,000 fans to the San Siro just to watch him wave to the crowd, well, you know you have something special on your hands.
Of course, now they'll need to live up to the hype. Mourinho needs to surpass his predecessor,
Inter is the favorite and it really couldn't be otherwise. It's not just that Mourinho effect, it's a squad that's deep in every department.
Weaknesses? Well, maybe just one. In the new formation, there's room for just one striker. That begs the question of how Mourinho will keep Inter's five highly paid center forwards --
Across town, AC Milan embarked on its rebuilding job with gusto. The likes of
Up front, there's an array of questions. Can Ronaldinho play week in, week out, alongside
Roma, a strong runner-up last year, looks better and could challenge, despite losing Mancini. "The Beast,"
Having burst into a Champions League spot in its first season back in Serie A, Juventus faces a transition year. With money still a little tight (all those years away from the Champions League honey pot have taken their toll), the
But two other signings could prove decisive down the stretch.
Fiorentina burst into the top four last season and will be difficult to dislodge. Signing
Let's not kid ourselves, Serie A is nowhere near returning to the glory days of the early 1990s or even the big spending days of the turn of the Millennium. But, having sunk so far, so fast and having nearly self-destructed thanks to the
Mourinho and Ronaldinho can do their part. But the most important thing will be remembering the mistakes and excesses of the past and steering clear of them.