It must have been with some measure of self-satisfaction that Jose Mourinho offered up some kind words to the latest man to struggle at Inter. Six managers have tried to fill the void left by the Portuguese at the San Siro in 2010, and so far, six have failed.
Speaking to the Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian), Mourinho was adamant that the club and the fans needed to give the new manager time—and come to terms with the fact that they're not at the highest level.
He said (here on goal.com in English):
I think that Mazzarri and Seedorf need time and a bit of faith from their clubs and fans. Let's be honest, they don't have a lot of top players to build a great team in just a few months, so they need time and trust.
It's a message that neither group of fans—so accustomed to success—will be delighted to hear, but Mourinho's message of patience and common sense is worth heeding. Neither of the two Milanese giants is currently up to scratch. There are deep structural weaknesses in both sides right now, and cracks that have been papered over for the past few years are now stressed to the breaking point.
Walter Mazzarri came into Inter with an impeccable record, but having never managed a club at the very highest level, he'd never had to deal with the immediate pressure to succeed, either. Clarence Seedorf will be well accustomed to the demands for silverware, but that stress is felt by players and coaches in a very different way, and he'll need to adapt to his new role quickly.
Both men are, by all accounts, intelligent and up to the job. They're also both popular with the dressing room. It would make no sense, then, to hold them accountable for results in the short term since they're working in very difficult circumstances and deserve enough time to change that environment to their favour.
I am an Interista and will always be one. I think that Mazzarri deserves the club's faith. Of course, I am no Milanista but I have a lot of respect for the club and their great history. I hope that Clarence will also get the chance to work in tranquillity and bring Milan back to the heights of before. Italian football needs the two Milan sides to be on top of their game.
Jose loves headlines, and he never shies away from reminding the fans at his old clubs that they're still in his thoughts. But whatever his reasons—more Mourinho mind games, or an honest attack on the managerial merry-go-round—the Chelsea boss has a point.
Post-calciopoli Serie A gave us a glimpse of what top-level football is like without its biggest sides. It's an unworkable model, devoid of its biggest draws. Inter and Milan are good for Italian—and European—football, but such is the competitive nature of the modern game that no side can expect to reach the highest level without stability.
Mourinho achieved incredible success at Inter almost immediately for two reasons.
First, the Portuguese is renowned for his man-management skills and for the rapid impact his personality can make on a dressing room. Jose isn't a long-term solution—five changes in 10 years speaks to this—but few in the game are as likely to effect a positive influence so quickly.
Secondly, he adopted an excellent—albeit ageing—squad of world-class players that had been dominating Serie A for several years before under Roberto Mancini. The Italian coach's failure on the continental stage eventually cost him his job, but the players he left behind were more than ready for Champions League success under the right leader.
Mazzarri wasn't afforded such luxury. And while Seedorf's squad is better than that of his Inter counterpart, it's still full of holes. Both men need time to rebuild.
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