Following an erratic season, Inter Milan fans and executives have to be wondering whether recent hire Leonardo Araújo is the right fit for their beloved team. Certainly the new coach has found himself in the winner’s column more often than not, but is that enough for a team that won the treble just this past season?
When Jose Mourinho left at the end of last season, fans were shocked. The Nerazzurri had just won their first Champions League in over 40 years. The job of finding a suitable replacement was not easy, but owner Massimo Moratti settled for former Liverpool coach Rafael Benítez. Unfortunately, Benítez did not even survive to the January transfer window, and once again Moratti searched for a new candidate. Just a day later Leonardo Araújo signed a contract to his new club.
This, however, was not the first time Leonardo was hired for his services in the Northern Italian city of Milan. He played for inter-city rivals AC Milan for five seasons between 1997 and 2003 and also coached the team for the 2009-2010 season. Without a doubt the Inter faithful questioned his loyalties at first, but Leonardo quickly earned the trust of the fans with his aggressive tactics that quickly transformed Inter into the formidable opponent it was the season before.
However, critics later argued that Benítez’s firing was premature. They claimed that had he had the healthy, transfer enhanced side that was available to Leonardo, Benítez would easily be still employed by Inter. But soon Leonardo found himself face-to-face with adversity, struggling to win.
The tides quickly changed and he too found himself in the hot seat.
Toward the end of the season Inter suffered three major losses including one to rivals AC and Leonardo’s tactics came under full fire. His stubbornness in playing the same players from week to week (especially his lack of diversity in the midfield) was questioned by fans and the media alike. Rumors quickly circulated of a glorious Mourinho return, but Moratti has since discredited them.
Times are uncertain for Inter Milan with the rumors of a return by Jose Mourinho, or even an exodus from Barcelona by coach Pep Guardiola that could find him coaching at the San Siro. Still, Moratti swears by his Brazilian coach and insists that he will be back next season. Regardless, this offseason will no doubt be an eventful one where we can expect to see new faces in Milan.
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