Inter’s season took another blow on Wednesday with Coppa Italia elimination. Varun Mathure looks at whether the lessons of this term will affect the future.
It has not been the best of seasons for Inter and the Coppa Italia exit against Roma last night took away the only hope of a bright spot. With just six rounds to go until the end of this campaign, Inter and Massimo Moratti face a big decision going into next term.
Last year was supposed to be the start of a ‘project’ at Inter, but numerous factors have hindered its growth and a proper evaluation is tough to make. Inter look to have failed in their pre-season objective of securing Champions League football with the team nine points behind Milan who sit in third place.
The reasons for this are numerous, but their poor form in the second-half of this season has to be the prime one for their downfall. The Nerazzurri have collected just 15 points from 14 games this side of 2013, with four wins, three draws and seven losses. While injuries have played a factor here, the team has struggled to recreate the form that saw them end Juve’s unbeaten streak.
And this is where the main question facing Moratti comes up – who exactly can be held accountable for such a slump? Inter’s missteps in the transfer market certainly played their part as they failed to secure a proper back-up for Diego Milito and let Marko Livaja go out on loan to Atalanta. Following the Argentine’s injury, things really went pear shaped.
There were other issues too with the transfer policy as Inter decided not to reinforce their defence, despite the injuries to Walter Samuel and Cristian Chivu and the poor displays by Matias Silvestre. The lack of cover has seen Inter concede 26 goals in their 14 games this year, which is the second-most in the League behind only Pescara.
Eyebrows were also raised with the decision to let Philippe Coutinho leave for Liverpool. Inter did sign a very good prospect in Mateo Kovacic with the money available, but whether he was really what the Serpenti needed at that point of season is a matter up for debate. Coutinho’s departure left Inter with the much maligned Ricky Alvarez as the only player capable of taking on opposing defenders and moving play forward rapidly.
Given all these factors, one would be led to conclude that Inter technical director Marco Branca has a case to answer for. It should also be noted that Branca was responsible for Wesley Sneijder’s abrupt departure from the club in January. However, at the same time, young tactician Stramaccioni has also made more than a few errors along the way.
Strama’s policy of adjusting his squad to the opposition paid rich dividends at the start of the season, with Inter being extremely dangerous on the counter. However, as the season wore on opponents seized on to this fact and realised that the Nerazzurri were not too good at creating opportunities when forced to take the initiative.
His constant shuffling of the squad and formations also prevented the team from establishing a style of play which has always been a hallmark for most successful teams. But, perhaps, his greatest error came about in how he set out his defence. The three-man defence worked for a while, before falling apart towards the end of last year.
The huge number of injuries have certainly not helped Strama’s cause, but one can’t blame them for Inter having accumulated lesser points than the likes of Siena, Torino and Bologna in the past 14 games. While he certainly did start brightly, the Roman’s inexperience has shown as the season has worn on.
Another criticism of Strama in some sectors has been his failure to bring in more players from the Primavera. One of the things fans looked forward to at the start of the season was seeing many of the successful NextGen squad integrated into the senior party. Marco Benassi has been the only one given a proper chance to feature so far.
There have been mistakes made this year, but now Inter face an even more important decision than last summer. Moratti will have to evaluate whether he wants to continue to put his faith in Stramaccioni and give him another shot, or to start over once again with a more experienced Coach in an effort to get his side back into the top tier of Europe.