How long will Inter's woes continue in 2011?
Two years ago Inter Milan was on top of the soccer world, basking in the glory of its first Champions League crown in over 45 years while at the same time winning its fifth Serie A title in a row. On top of that, the team had just clinched the treble with the win in the Italian Cup. Everything was great for the team that was long in the shadows of AC Milan and Juventus, at least in terms of European success.
A year and a half later the team finds itself in the midst of a relegation battle. Where did it all go wrong?
The first issue that started this downfall was Jose Mourinho leaving for Real Madrid. Mourinho had achieved so much in such a short span at Inter that no one could really fault the man for wanting to coach the most prestigious club in the world. Such opportunities are once in a lifetime, and even someone of Mourinho's prestige and pedigree couldn't say no to the Bernabeu side.
The team was already known as an aging squad in 2010; therefore it's not hard to see why there are major changes needed at this time. Inter has a very experienced squad in 2011 although most experts seem to see a major difference between a squad that is aging and one that is past its prime, as it appears to be the case with this Inter team.
In my opinion the pieces to succeed are still there: Julio Cesar in goal; Lucio, Samuel and Maicon in defense; Cambiasso, Sneijder and even Zanetti in midfield while Forlan, Pazzini and Milito are all great strikers in their own right. All these players, aside from Forlan and Pazzini, have been at Inter for a while now, and one has to wonder when some "new blood" will be integrated into the squad.
Yes, there have been some new acquisitions such as Jonathan, Mauro Zarate, Forlan and Ricardo Alvarez, but all those players have yet to consistently contribute. A revolving door of coaches since Mourinho left has not helped the matter either. The players can not get used to one particular system because it seems they have to learn a new system every other week. Claudio Ranieri has taken over the reins in hope of giving the team some stability it desperately needs.
It is up to Ranieri to find out what he's got on the squad and mesh the young talent with the old. In my opinion this is still a very good squad that can challenge for the Serie A and even get in the mix in the Champions League, but things have to change quickly. Better performances by the players, along with some strategic changes by the coaching staff and support by the fans, should steer Inter in the right direction yet again.