I have to say Inter had a terrible summer managing the squad after winning the treble. I am from the school that if you win everything with an aging squad you should blow up the team and build for a new cycle. As good as Moratti and Branca have been since the Mancini era began this summer was badly managed. Selling Balotelli and keeping Milito, Maicon, Materazzi and Cordoba without really refreshing the squad wasn’t what I would have done. Also extending 31-year-old Milito’s contract and raising it to Euro 5.5 million per season, while selling a 20-year-old to raise money was plain stupid. As much as Mario wanted to leave, by selling Milito it would have been a clear signal to him that he was a guaranteed starter and would have kept his antics to a minimum. (Or at least thats what I think, knowing him he’d still be a pain in the ass).
I’m also from the school that you give new contracts for expected future performance instead of loyalty and what a player did last season. So giving a five-year contract to Milito at 31, when right after winning the treble he mentions the offers he has received, was definitely not the right thing to do. Also adjusting Maicon’s contract when he mentally moved on to Real Madrid and his agent was pimping out his replacement to you was also a mistake. I understand Moratti was holding out to the what he thought Maicon was worth but not selling him at the end didn’t do us any favors. Now I’m not saying these two players aren’t good or I’m not grateful for their contribution to all the success we’ve had, I’m saying that from the sporting and business side these were bad decisions.
Finally not getting your new coach any new players to make him change system makes the job harder. I agree that Mascherano was too expensive and Kuyt was old, but Inter could have found similar players at a lot less. Biabiany is no Kuyt as he has none of the defensive skills. Mariga could have been a good option for the Mascherano role but with Zanetti a guaranteed starter and Stankovic still on the books there are too many players for just two spots. Also by not getting a Balotelli replacement the bench has looked really thin with no one able to come in a create a spark and change the tone.
Player Form and Injuries
There have been only three players that have played up to standard this year; Eto’o, Lucio, and Walter Samuel. Everyone else has had a major hangover from the last year and the World Cup. To top it off we have a list of injuries so long it has become debilitating. Five of the Champions League Final starters are out with injury, and their replacements have gone down injured as well. Motta has been injured since the summer. Santon has been way of the boy we saw that held Ronaldo in check two seasons ago, he is no longer fearless. Some of these guys obviously needed a longer vacation as they seem to be running on empty. At the same time its December already and they should be, with proper training, back to their normal selves by now.
Rafa’s biggest mistake was accepting this job. There was no way he could have done better than last year and he was always going to be compared to Mourinho. My biggest problem with Rafa is his tactical inflexibility. For the 4-2-3-1 to work the wingers have to protect the fullbacks when they attack. In his system they do not track back deep enough to do so. Also Inter was built on the 4-3-1-2 system which gives Maicon the freedom to run up and support the attack knowing that a central midfielder will be there to cover his side of the pitch. Rafa refuses to switch back to this formation in to get the team back on track. Despite all the injuries (which he has to shoulder some of the blame) he is sticking to the one formation he knows and that is unacceptable.
Now I’m not pushing for a change now especially since there is no real alternative. A lot of people are pushing for Walter Zenga to come on and ferry us till June but I don’t know if he’ll help us win anything. He’ll have the support of the fans and will fire up the team but is he qualified? I’d rather wait till everyone is healthy and then properly judge Rafa. However if we don’t win the Club World Cup Moratti will most likely fire him.