Let’s see the facts: Inter closed the previous season with a disastrous 9th place, not qualifying for any European Cup. This year’s objective was to qualify for the Europa League, with the hidden dream of being one of the underdog contenders for the third place in Champions League. A 5th place shouldn’t thus be much of a disappointment, and should be regarded as a good achievement. However, one has to consider not only what goal was achieved, but also how. There are at least three reasons why Inter season cannot be considered great:
1) Opponents. Inter started the season knowing that it would have to battle with Milan, Fiorentina, Napoli, Roma and possibly Lazio for the third and fourth place spots. However, while Roma had an extraordinary season and came up to be Juventus’ main competitor, the other three teams didn’t meet expectation, with Napoli performing very well in the Italian Cup and in the unlucky Champions League campaign, but not so well in the domestic championship. Milan and Lazio faced huge crises, with poor performances that led them to occupy the low end of the table and to fire their coaches. Moreover, Fiorentina played almost all the year without its two best strikers, Giuseppe Rossi and Mario Gomez, and should have thus been an easy prey for Inter. This, however, wasn’t the case.
2) Continuity. Mazzarri failed in leading his team to the next level. He never won three games in a row and allowed Napoli to run away early in the season, Fiorentina to slowly cumulate a decisive advantage, and Milan and Lazio to catch up and become possible competitors. The competition for the Europa League should have long be over, and instead Inter are still uncertain about it.
3) Young players development. Mazzarri ostracized Mauro Icardi for the first part of the season, a young and prolific striker, and kept playing Milito, only a ghost of the fantastic striker who led Inter to the triplete. Then he started ostracizing Mateo Kovacic, the young and talented midfielder acquired last January from Dinamo Zagabria, preferring even Kuzmanovic over him, and publicly blaming him after the loss against Juventus. Way to go, Mazzarri.
At this point of the season, however, fans are already looking into the future. What will Inter look like next seasons? Will the team be able to compete for higher goals? While people who always look at the bright side of life might find reasons to be optimistic, there seem to be more reasons to see the future black: first of all, Mazzarri proved himself an unworthy coach. His tight-fisted, conservative coaching style is not suitable for a team that has to be ambitious and willing to win games. If he stays, Inter will not do any better than this year. Second, the investments that Thohir planned might not be enough to become again competitive for the scudetto. Juventus is a much stronger and more talented team, and filling the gap would require an amount of investments that the Indonesian tycoon doesn’t seem willing to make.
Two games to go, and a whole season to plan: the future is at stake, and Inter’s perspectives do not look bright. Will Thohir be able to make the right choices for the team? Will he be able to understand that he needs to make significant investments and, most importantly, find a coach that is coherent with Inter’s objectives and ambitions? Next summer will be the moment of truth.
Monday, May 5 th, 2014
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