Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Mazzarri has brought stability to the team but is not flexible in his tactics.
Walter Mazzarri has brought much-needed stability to Inter's hot seat. He is the sixth manager the team has had since Jose Mourinho left to coach Real Madrid after the 2010 treble. With turnover like that it is immensely difficult to compete.
He has given the team an identity that it has sorely lacked in recent years, but he is extraordinarily inflexible tactically. Only slight variations are ever made to his basic counterattacking 3-5-2. If his tactics ever fail him, he is more likely to blame the referee than admit he was out-coached.
As a counterpoint, consider Juve boss Antoino Conte. A devotee of the unorthodox 4-2-4 formation when he was hired to coach his old team, he quickly changed over to a 4-3-3 to better accommodate the acquisition of midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal.
Presented with an abundance of center-backs and no viable left-back, he changed that into a version of Mazzarri's 3-5-2 and has used it ever since. Confronted with that formation's apparent weaknesses in European competition, he seems poised to make another switch back to a 4-3-3.
Mazzarri needs to develop similar flexibility in order for him to thrive on all levels as Inter's manager. Two years ago at Napoli his tactics were novel in Europe, but Chelsea eventually figured him out and dramatically knocked the Partenopei out of the Champions League.
Mazzarri needs to acknowledge that his 3-5-2 may not work everywhere and work in some different wrinkles. If he remains a slave to what he always does, he could take Inter back to the Champions League, but he wasn't able to bring Napoli to a scudetto and may not be able to do it with Inter.
He needs to become more adaptable and more unpredictable. Otherwise Inter will always be a contender for the top five but never for the very top.