"Could you win? Otherwise they will make fun of me at school. Thanks, Filippo."
This simplistic banner that hung in front of the Tribuna Arancio in 2012 was at first glance sad but then retrospectively shocking. This was not the request of a beleaguered Lecce fan wondering why his team were in Lega Pro, or from a poor boy from Bari wondering why he was the only one who turned up to watch his team lose. This was a fan of Inter, and only two years after their historic treble.
Since then the club has seen major changes—none more notably than in the coaching staff. Rafael Benitez (Champions League winner), Leonardo (promising young coach), Gian Piero Gasperini (Maverick tactician and wild card), Claudio Ranieri (safe hands) and Andrea Stramaccioni (NextGen winner) have all come and gone after all failing to achieve the specific role they were employed for.
What is the role that five very different coaches (six if you include Walter Mazzarri) have failed to achieve? Why have Inter conceded the spot as Italy’s premier team and their European placing?
All fans of the Nerazzurri can look at the aforementioned list of coaches and pick holes in their tactics, man management, European pedigree, even Serie A pedigree and wax lyrical about why they may think a new more fashionable coach should take the reins. Diego Simeone is the en vogue name being whispered in the stairwells of the San Siro, but would this make much difference?
The problem was not just that Inter did not regenerate into a title-winning side after the treble win in 2010; it was because they did not regenerate at all. Massimo Moratti made the crucial mistake in not recognising that Inter’s treble was the end of a side and not the beginning. The Nerazzurri paid a heavy price for Moratti’s and Marco Branca's folly.
Esteban Cambiasso, Cristian Chivu, Ivan Cordoba, Lucio, Diego Forlan, Maicon, Julio Cesar, Diego Milito, Paolo Orlandoni, Dejan Stankovic and Walter Samuel could all perhaps have been moved on as far back as 2011.
Moratti has eventually ceded his seat of power and allowed Erick Thohir to take over control of the club. The buyout was met with a largely negative reaction at first as the iconic Moratti name was linked so heavily with the club despite the frustration that sometimes came with it.
Often this frustration and anger were pointed at Marco Branca, who looked from the outside seemed incompetent, though perhaps it is harsh that he shouldered as much of the blame as he did. There was, after all (as in all major businesses), a business plan and he was not running rogue.
The Indonesian Thohir has gone some way to move the club away from the continued decline and has whispered hope in some areas. First of all, the pantomime villain Branca has been thrown from the towers of the San Siro to much rejoicing and waving of pitchforks.
The signing of Hernanes was also a popular move whilst the signs that Nemanja Vidic is on his way in the summer also have brought smiles to the faces of some Nerazzurri. The fact that Thohir stepped in during the chaotic Juventus swap deal has also given him some credibility in some camps.
Inter have won their last two games and it seems that with an injection of money, some fresh perspective and some new staff in the upper echelons of the club, there may be a road to recovery on the cards.
The frustration, however, for all fans of Inter is that all of this could have been started after 2010 by Moratti. He had money, he had a much better standing to which he could attract new players and he had a climate that involved a weaker Juventus.
The signs are positive for the black and blue half of Milan and of course little Filippo. The unfortunate thing is, however, that Filippo’s classmates have been having a field day for the past two years.