12 Things Inter Milan Must Do to Re-Emerge Next Season
For the first time since 1995, Inter will head into next season without Massimo Moratti as president, and that, combined with other factors, could make for one of the more intriguing campaigns in the club’s history.
Shortly after completing his takeover, new owner Erick Thohir appeared on Italian TV show "Che tempo che fa" and promised “to construct a system” to help the club return competing for honours (h/t FootballItalia). In the same interview, he also said the Nerazzurri “must play the long game, know how to expand and become stronger,” adding that “If Inter don’t follow that model, they won’t be competitive in future.”
Having said all the right things, the Indonesian businessman suffered a fan revolt due to the club’s January transfer policies (via Goal.com). He will need to ensure Inter conduct themselves in a much more intelligent manner this summer, a period which could shape their ability to challenge for years to come.
Over the following pages are 12 things Inter must do in order to see themselves back among Serie A’s top clubs.
1. Believe in Their Younger Players
While many look at the Inter squad and judge their aging stars such as Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel, the club has quietly developed a number of highly talented youngsters. The Nerazzurri boast a raft of starlets who appear to be on the verge of breaking out over the coming seasons.
A number of them have been discussed here previously, but with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations tightening even more, using them in the first team becomes even more important. Erick Thohir has already stressed how vital their development is, telling the club’s official website that he thinks “all successful teams start with talented young players.”
2. Decide If Walter Mazzarri Is the Right Coach
Walter Mazzarri only arrived last summer, but his presence at the club dictates many other factors. He is completely wedded to the 3-4-1-2 formation which dictates transfer policy, and Inter must decide if that is the direction they want to commit to before spending heavily on new players to suit the coach’s tactics.
While results this season have been achieved under difficult circumstances and he has almost certainly done enough to remain in the role, it is the long-term impact of his style which must be considered.
3. And If He Is, Be Patient with Him
Walter Mazzarri’s coaching resume shows that if he remains at Inter, he is highly likely to succeed. He first came to the forefront of the Calcio landscape by keeping lowly Reggina in the top flight for three successive seasons.
Following that up with one of the most accomplished eras in Sampdoria history, guiding the club into Europe and helping them to a runners-up spot in the Coppa Italia. From there he moved to Napoli, enjoying a superb four-year spell.
Mazzarri shows he can accomplish the objective he is given, and Inter must allow him to do so.
4. Be Honest with Supporters
The club’s promised rejuvenation stood in stark contrast to the failed Fredy Guarin-Mirko Vucinic swap. That move would not only have seen Inter swap a player for an older one, but would have arguably only strengthened bitter rivals Juventus.
Speaking to Republika Online back in January, Erick Thohir spoke further about the project, and he must deliver on those promises if the Nerazzurri are to challenge. Letting supporters believe his words is hugely important, and he said in that interview (via FootballItalia);
Fans should not expect bombs, but if we have our chances, we will do something interesting. Our project is clear, there is no doubt about this.
We want to build a healthy club, competitive in the industry, so this year we are going through a state of transition. This is not year zero, this is the last year of a fantastic era. Starting next season we will begin a new era.
5. Get Rodrigo Palacio Some Help in Attack
Rodrigo Palacio has been in sensational form this season, netting 13 goals—28 per cent of the Nerazzurri total of 47—while contributing five assists. The next leading scorer is Yuto Nagatomo with five, a damning indictment of the club’s poor attacking form.
Mauro Icardi has been out with a long-term injury and could well be the answer, but with Diego Milito aging, new blood up front is a must.
6. Restructure the Managerial Organisation of the Club
With Erick Thohir now in charge, one of his first tasks must be to streamline the managerial structure of the club. With Technical Director Marco Branca sacked in February (via the official club website), he has already begun the process, but much more is needed.
A glance at their organisational chart shows so many levels of people wanting to make decisions, but like all top clubs, Inter need clarity. This is particularly true in the transfer market, where their approach has been confused by so many different directors being involved.
7. Trim the Squad Considerably
There are currently no fewer 29 Inter players out on loan, three more than are available for Walter Mazzarri on a weekly basis. While younger players benefit from this process, it is the players who look unlikely to ever pull on the Nerazzurri shirt again—such as Matias Silvestre or Ezequiel Schelotto— that must be sold on.
Carrying such deadweight is a huge burden on the club's future plans and is undeniably a negative influence on transfer strategy. Inter need to cut ties with as many of these players as possible and reduce their bloated numbers.
8. Let Some of Yesterday’s Heroes Leave
One of the biggest problems with that unwieldy squad is the number of aging veterans it contains, and many of those must be the ones allowed to leave. Of the 28 players used by Walter Mazzarri this term, a total of nine will be over 30 when 2014-15 gets underway.
What makes this harder is that many of them—including Walter Samuel, Diego Milito and Esteban Cambiasso—were heroes of the historic 2010 treble. Letting them move on may be difficult, but Inter cannot move forward until they do.
9. Find Nemanja Vidic’s Role in the Back Three Early
The move has already been discussed at length here, but precisely where he’ll play in Walter Mazzarri’s system is hugely important. The defence has struggled this term and needs strengthening, but in order to do so, they must understand where the Serbian will feature and then bring in some complimentary defenders.
He is likely to be best deployed in the central role, where the demise of his foot speed can best be protected, meaning Inter will need to add players who can play either side of him.
10. Decide on a Midfield Identity
Much like the Nemanja Vidic issue, Inter must decide how their midfield will play in order to identify potential targets in that area. Within the current squad, there are so many different types of midfielders, meaning the tempo and style of play change depending upon who plays on any given weekend.
That makes for a severe lack of cohesion, and is a problem that must be addressed this summer if they are to return to challenging next term.
11. Bring the Best from Their Wing-Back Trio
Perhaps one of the greatest attributes this current Inter squad possesses is the depth at wing-back. Jonathan, Yuto Nagatomo and Danilo D’Ambrosio combine to form one of the most impressive trios in the league, almost guaranteeing Walter Mazzarri quality in wide areas no matter who he selects.
Twenty-five-year-old D’Ambrosio has already begun to repay the faith shown in him after the club bought him from Torino in January. According to WhoScored.com, he scored twice and added an assist before joining the Milanese giants, while averaging 1.8 tackles and 3 interceptions per game since .
12. Miss out on the Europa League
While finishing as high up the league as possible must always be the aim, both Juventus and Roma have shown the benefit of not qualifying for the Europa League when trying to rebuild. The Giallorossi have been superb this term, profiting from extra time to rest and prepare thanks to their lack of midweek action.
Just like Juventus back in 2011-12, Inter could reap those same opportunities, catapulting themselves back into contention by not reaching each Serie A fixture drained from the adding matches and travelling the competition brings.