Inter's 6 Biggest Mistakes Over the Past Year
This season is a year of change for Inter. They got a new owner, and they are not competing in Europe for the first time in years. It’s all very tough for Erick Thohir, who is also the majority owner of DC United, but this is Inter, 18-time champion of Italy, and he’s learning slowly. He continues to fly between Indonesia and Milan, leaving Massimo Moratti as the de facto president when Thohir is not around. “We have been partners for months,” the Indonesian said of Moratti, via Football Italia, “and I think it is important to discuss matters when we get the chance.”
Of course it is too early to tell if Thohir is capable of running a team, especially if he is not present all the time. Absentee owners are the worst. (And sometimes, even those foreign owners who stay and appear to care about the well-being of the club, like Vincent Tan of Cardiff, do more damage to the integrity of the team than any good.)
Some questionable things have happened under Thohir so far, and Inter could have avoided some things before he even came along. And yet Inter are fifth in Serie A.
Maybe it's all a lesson. In order of severity, here are six mistakes Inter made over the past year.
Reneging Deal with Juventus
Giorgio Chiellini was upset, and as a player he probably sympathized with Fredy Guarin and Mirko Vucinic. Inter and Juve were set to swap those two players, not once but twice. Erick Thohir wasn’t even in town. The new majority owner did not fly from his home in Indonesia to sort out the mess. Fans protested outside the club’s headquarters, with the hope that Guarin would stay.
In the end, Thohir “toyed a bit too much with the lives of two men,” Chiellini told Sportmediaset, per Goal. The owner pulled out of the deal for economic reasons, saying it did not “offer a clear financial or technical benefit to the club.” At one point Guarin threatened to go on strike.
It was a valuable lesson for Thohir, who has watched games at San Siro since the debacle and perhaps learned what exactly is required from the president of a club like Inter. There was a lack of leadership.
Sporting director Marco Branca was fired. For now, Massimo Moratti is the honorary president, but he doesn’t really control the negotiations.
Now Guarin would not hesitate to sign a contract for life with Inter, as per Goal, and for a player who sulked when the move didn’t go his way, he is still talented. The fans at San Siro gave Guarin a standing ovation in a recent match against Torino.
Keeping Andrea Ranocchia
This is a 26-year-old defender who has played for Italy, and yet he is not good enough for Inter. He could have gone to Turkey, where Galatasaray wanted Andrea Rannochia. But apparently he thought too much of himself as well. "We considered the costs to be unreasonable,” said Galatasaray spokesman Ergun Sukru, per Football Italia. “He wanted €2.4 million wages for just four months. It was laughable.”
Ranocchia is not mobile enough to play in a back three, and for a while he was an unused substitute.
Hiring Walter Mazzarri
Walter Mazzarri is not a bad coach. He is just stubborn. He has deployed a 3-5-2 formation, the same that earned him success at Napoli. Except this time he does not have Marek Hamsik or Edinson Cavani or Ezequiel Lavezzi.
So often is Rodrigo Palacio all alone up front, and even if he’s complimented by Mauro Icardi or Diego Milito, Palacio is the one scoring the goals. He has 12 goals this season in Serie A, several of them winners—one of them to beat AC Milan in the derby.
And Mazzarri loves to complain. He blamed the referees in games against Napoli and Udinese and Lazio and Cagliari. "I don't talk about referees," he told Rai Radio, via FourFourTwo. It’s hilarious the things he says.
What’s worse is that he’s keeping a young player hostage. Mazzarri even blamed Mateo Kovacic, who is 19 and who has played more games as a substitute than a starter, when he failed to track Andrea Pirlo in a game against Juventus. Kovacic is player of attacking spirit. Mazzarri has not used him properly.
When he was playing with the club, Antonio Cassano seemed certain that Kovacic would become a “great” player. “I saw him in the first training session,” Cassano told inter.it, per Goal, “and you can tell he's got great ability.” Mazzarri doesn’t seem to see it.
Signing Nemanja Vidic
He is still 32, and he comes with lots of experience, but Nemanja Vidic is fragile. He spent some 14 months over the past three years recovering from major knee injuries, as per the Mirror. What’s more, the Daily Star reports that he will earn close to £20 million over the course of his three-year deal with Inter.
The club also seemed to break the salary cap set at €2.5 million a year just lure Vidic, who will make £3 million per season after deductions, says the Daily Star. "He is one of the strongest defenders in the world, for his characteristics, his international experience, his charisma as a leader will be crucial for the team and the growth of our younger players,” Thohir said in a statement on the club’s website.
But if they really wanted an injury-prone leader, they could just keep Walter Samuel. What about Javier Zanetti? He is eternal. Is there any room for younger players? Inter sold two of their prospects on defence, Luca Caldirola and Giulio Donati, to German clubs. They played for Italy in the U21 Euro Cup last summer.
Keeping Diego Milito
It is almost sad to see Diego Milito come in and out of the lineup. This is the player that scored twice in the 2010 Champions League final against Bayern Munich, and he won the treble. The problem with Inter is that they don’t know when to let go of their veterans.
Cristian Chivu had to retire mid-season. Milito has started five games in Serie A this season, and he’s scored just 11 goals over the past couple of years. They really should have sold Milito, along with Maicon, years earlier, when Jose Mourinho left for Madrid and wanted to take them with him. “When you are 34 years old,” Milito told Solo Inter, via Sky Sports, “it’s not easy to recover after being out of action for a year.”
Signing Mauro Icardi
At 21, Mauro Icardi should be the future. He’s scored big goals against Fiorentina and Juventus, but that’s really it. His love life is more interesting than his career. He is dating Wanda Nara, the model and ex-wife of footballer Maxi Lopez, and he is constantly injured. One doctor even seemed to make a connection between the two: “It is obvious that someone who just underwent surgery for a sports hernia ought to have as calm a lifestyle as possible,” Dr Andrea Campi told La Gazzetta dello Sport (h/t Football Italia), “avoiding excessive physical strain.”
Wanda Nara wasn’t even divorced by the time Icardi emerged as the third person in the love triangle. This season he has done more damage as a distraction than anything else. The photographers chase him around town, snapping photos of the pair.
And his attitude sucks. He doesn't talk like a team player at all.
Icardi: Us strikers we’re like that: we like to play, live on our instincts, ours is a game of flashes. Running should be for midfielders...— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) March 7, 2014
Icardi in CdSera:I’ve never liked the athletic [pt of football] even if I know you need to do it.The technical pt with the ball, a pleasure— James Horncastle (@JamesHorncastle) March 7, 2014