Sunday February 9 2014
Bye Bye Branca

If there's one thing Erick Thohir has done to win over Inter fans, argues Jeremy Lim, it's getting rid of Marco Branca.

It might have taken Fredy Guarin’s transfer fiasco to spur thorough examination of Inter’s operations as an entity, but Erick Thohir’s regime is finally in full effect. The Indonesian’s arrival at club headquarters in the final week of January led directly to deals for Danilo D’Ambrosio and Hernanes being brokered. Not long after, it emerged the side were the favourites to land Manchester United captain Nemanja Vidic in the summer.

Yet nothing has endeared Thohir to the Inter faithful up to this point more than news that Marco Branca was ousted from the management on Saturday. Once a striker for the Nerazzurri and even accorded hero status after netting famous winners in the Derby della Madonnina on a pair of occasions, Branca’s name had become vilified amongst the Ultras after numerous cases of mismanaging the San Siro side’s affairs. The unpopular transfer chief eventually cut ties after being held chiefly culpable for failing to preserve a squad that had won the Treble just over three years ago.

In reality, decline set in the moment Javier Zanetti hoisted the Champions League trophy at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2010. Jose Mourinho soon departed the team, but he was not to be their only casualty. Gabriele Oriali, the loyal club servant who orchestrated Inter’s finest moves from the past decade, revealed his disillusion with the setup two months after Inter’s triumph.

“After winning the Champions League, I thought I could enjoy a bit more success but I totally disagree with the decisions that were taken. Indeed, I’m not sure I will stay at Inter,” the transfer consultant stated. By October the club announced he had gone. “I’m not aware of the real reasons why I was released,” Oriali opened up afterwards. “After 30 years at Inter I thought that I had earned some respect and credibility. However, I was kicked out and I don’t know why. I just know after Mourinho left, President Massimo Moratti was allowed to be convinced by Branca and some other directors of a project that didn’t include me.”

Moratti’s decision to entrust Inter’s dealings to Branca proved in hindsight to be a faux pas of epic proportions. Missing the vital presence taken to operate at an administrative level, the 49-year-old’s tenure quickly exposed his fundamental lack of the necessary intuition and know-how to manage the outfit in evolving market conditions.

But with the baton well and truly passed, Inter were left to wave goodbye to the chances of continuity the treble had presented. Spurred by an ailing dynasty in Serie A and Europe that perpetuated from Rafael Benitez’s reign, Branca performed piecemeal dips in the transfer window without a defined plan to nurture his investments - Giampaolo Pazzini and Andrea Ranocchia arrived at La Pinetina for top dollar in January 2011, yet neither fulfilled their potential in an Inter shirt.

Branca’s haphazard spending continued that summer with the ill-considered signing of a spent Diego Forlan to plug the gaping hole left by Samuel Eto’o’s switch to Anzhi Makhachkala. Thiago Motta followed out of the club five months later. Without any clear technical blueprint to replace the squad’s eroded talent, Gian Piero Gasperini and Claudio Ranieri received no favours as their stints ended prematurely.

Still, the bizarre process of phasing out Inter’s legion of Treble veterans and promising youngsters with signings of insufficient calibre continued into the 2012-13 campaign. Opportunity to sign talented Italian prospect Andrea Poli was spurned; instead, misfit Zdravko Kuzmanovic donned the famed Beneamata jersey later on in abject testimony of how Inter’s worth had fallen. Marko Livaja then made way for Lazio benchwarmer Tommaso Rocchi, the Croatian following former club youth products Mario Balotelli, Davide Santon, Luc Castaignos, Marco Faraoni and Philippe Coutinho out of the exit door. Antonio Cassano proved a colossal waste of wages, while Luca Caldirola and Giulio Donati were shipped off to the Bundesliga just weeks after reaching the European Under-21 Championship Final.

Taking place before Fredy Guarin’s recent transfer conundrum was the ignominy of Wesley Sneijder’s exit last year after being frozen out of the starting XI over contractual disputes. The Dutchman was finally released for a mere €7.5m - poor reflection of his value as a San Siro favourite. This January though, Branca’s stake in the clumsy handling of team assets proved the final straw, and his own silence in the matter served as a tacit admission that his time was up.

Latest incarnations of a once-proud club have fallen short of expectations, and fault has been incontrovertibly traced to Branca’s antics. By belatedly removing a permanent itch from the backs of Inter’s fans, Thohir has left his mark on what could now turn out to be a genuine period of recovery for the fallen Milan giants.

This parody video of Branca's 'Facebook story' circulated days before the contract was terminated. Coincidence or final straw?

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Finally for 2 different reasons:

1) Branca is gone. I can't believe how good Oriali madse him look. Now time for Inter to continue from it's very good January. As an Inter fan, I am so excited to see this! As a fan of Serie A and Italian Football, I am even more excited. Serie needs its big clubs to become big again.

2) I can finally comment on articles written by football Italia. You guys have the best articles! Keep it coming.
on the 13th February, 2014 at 2:59am
It's unfair to blame Branca for all the misfortune Inter had to endure lately. Inter used to be a club with a lot of transfers of players who in the end disappointed hugely. Perhaps Interista have became familiar of success but with signings like Hakan Sukur, Keane, Almeyda, Fresi and the exits of Pirlo, Seedorf and Cannavaro it really isn't something new. Inter simply doesn't have a long term transfer strategy. Besides even under the Mancini und Mourinho era Inter made transfer.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 9:57am
@Maldini's Heir; You're probably right but I think Berlusconi is the real problem. But Galliani needed to fire Allegri when Allegri wanted Matri but no defender. You can't make that huge a mistake. It's like Wenger trying to be pretend but only putting out bigger money when re-enforcing positions where his team is already strong and even exceptional. This is worse because Matri is good but Tevez came for less...can't have that. That or a guy who let's said manager stay, after trashing him.
on the 11th February, 2014 at 4:30am
I am sorry to see you go Marco. You have been the transfer genius when you listen to Mourinho and when you have to use your own judgement you pay 19 mill for Ranocchia, 15 mill for Perreyra, 6 mill Silvestre, get schelotto and he fails to make the squad - tried to hire John Carew and he failed the physical only to be replaced with Rocchi,paid for D'Ambrosio when you could have had him for free at the end of the season.....HIRE JEAN-CLAUDE BLANC AS HIS REPLACEMENT!
on the 10th February, 2014 at 5:33pm
I'm a Juventino - but as a fan of Italian football I am glad to hear Branca has left. Now we just need Galliani to leave Milan. Inter and Milan's fall has been exacerbated by Branca and Galliani's mind-numbing transfers over the last several years.
on the 10th February, 2014 at 3:08pm
About friggin' time! He should've been replaced 2 years ago. This man has done so much damage to the club, but the main fault lies with Moratti for sticking with him. I was unsure about Thohir for a while, but his January deals and the termination of Branca's contract has changed my mind about him. Now if he's smart he'll convince Leonardo to take over as technical director.
on the 10th February, 2014 at 1:43pm
@ Me there's one thing Galliani only having a budget to sign free players and another thing changing 22 players in our first team squad in less than 6 months. Allegri was partly responsible for deciding to spend 11m of the little money we had on a striker when we desperately needed a defender but there's been problems since before Allegri's time. The fact is that when Galliani had money he wasted a lot of it and now he has little money he signs lots of budget players. He should go
on the 10th February, 2014 at 11:24am
Inter's transfer strategy since the treble has been a joke.

I remember being totally shocked by the sale of Coutinho and the signing of Rocchi. Talk about braindead moves.

But at least Hernanes (although a bit overpriced) and D'Ambrosio shows a possible change of direction.

Not convinced by Vidic, though. He's been great but probably past his best now.

Musacchio is on a free too in the summer. Why not him?

As for Branca... good riddance.
on the 10th February, 2014 at 10:14am
as an inter fan i thnk oriali should be hired again,and fasone and ausilio should be kicked out of the club, and hire directors that are true inter fans and not ex juve like fasone, only then would inter be on the right track, and hopefully mazzari would start playing d'ambrosio and bench jonathan cz he is not inter material nor is he worth a starting lineup position,FORZA INTER!!
on the 10th February, 2014 at 8:37am
You say fallen giants but which period do you speak of? Their success post 2006 derived from the downfall of their greatest competitors. Prior to that there is nothing in Inter’s recent history that would suggest they were giants. If anything they have been underperformers for a very long time. The return of their fallen competitors has simply returned Inter to their equilibrium of being an underperformer once more. If anything, an article about the fallen giant Milan is more appropriate.
on the 9th February, 2014 at 10:36pm
Inter have this season taken some huge steps towards recovery.
on the 9th February, 2014 at 10:04pm
Why is Galliani the idiot? The gangster minister is the the bigger problem. I have a hard time believing that Galliani makes the choice to sign only players who are free (watch them miss the boat with Honda's more relevant teammate, a world-class GK whose contract will expire in June).

I just don't believe Galliani is responsible for any of that...or that he is responsible for the once great medical team to be so bad...or that he's responsible for players wanting to leave Allegri.
on the 9th February, 2014 at 8:00pm
on the 9th February, 2014 at 7:22pm
Damn it! Inter have dumped their idiot first! Come on Galliani off you go now too.
on the 9th February, 2014 at 7:03pm

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