Even if they win their last two games against Genoa and Udinese, it looks like Inter are out of Europe. An ignominious fate for the 2010 Champions League winners. Their very name, Internazionale, suggests a continental raison d'etre, but this season they resemble more a regional outfit than a global player.
The loss at home to Lazio is just the latest in a series of woes for the Nerazzurri faithful. Poor transfers, an imbalanced squad, a promising but inexperienced manager and a shocking series of injuries have all combined to heap misery on Inter and their fans around the world.
This will be the Beneamata's worst season ever in the 20-team Serie A and their most disappointing since the misery of 1947-48, when they finished 12th behind long-since faded stars of yesteryear Pro Patria and Triestina.
It was also Lazio's first win against Inter in Milan since October 1998, when Sven-Goran Eriksson was on the bench and Roberto Mancini was up front for the Biancocelesti. Then, they hammered Inter in an eight-goal thriller early in a disastrous season that saw Luigi Simoni, Mircea Lucescu, Luciano Castellini and Roy Hodgson all take control of a calamitous Inter.
Andrea Stramaccioni's men have now lost seven of their last nine Serie A games, including four of their last five at home.
Looking forward, Inter now face a season without European competition for the first time in 14 years. An unthinkable failure and a disaster that would have been difficult to predict just three short seasons ago when they reigned over all before them.
The failure, as I've written before, runs deeper than just the coach, however. There are shortcomings throughout the set-up at Appiano Gentile, and Club president Massimo Moratti will have to act decisively to stop the rot.
Moratti spoke to Sky Italia after the loss to Lazio, and he is adamant his team will challenge again soon (in English, via goal.com):
Building a great Inter team for the future? We're going to strengthen the team. We will have to look at how exactly, but we want players with character, courage and a strong work ethic who can have a decent campaign and obtain a positive result next season.
My assessment of Stramaccioni is that we did well this year up to a certain point and then various things went against us, we had a series of injuries, so it's hard to judge. Our first priority at the moment is to concentrate on the football side of things and our transfer campaign.
On the face of it, those words seem to suggest that Strama's job is safe. Moratti is known for spending big but will now also have to spend wisely given the punishments looming from UEFA's Financial Fair Play system should he fail to balance the books.
It's difficult to understand how the club could act quickly and intelligently in the upcoming transfer window and achieve an immediate improvement next term without working closely with a coach. Should Moratti be planning to replace Stamaccioni, he'd need to have someone lined up already so as to tailor his purchases for the new boss' tactics.
One thing is certain: Inter need serious attention in the summer. The current malaise at the club can't just be blamed on injury woes or bad luck—it runs deeper. This isn't something that can be nipped in the bud. It needs immediate root-and-branch consideration if the Nerazzurri are going to have a fruitful season.
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