Three managers and 2 points from a possible 24 in recent fixtures for Inter Milan. What has gone wrong for the once hugely successful club?
When you look at Inter Milan’s recent matches, it may shock you. It is not what one would expect from winners of the treble merely 7 years ago. That team had incredible, world renowned stars such as Wesley Sneijder, Diego Milito and Javier Zanetti.
These stars beat Bayern Munich in the Santiago Bernabeu 2-0. Fast forward 7 years, and in their last 8 games, Inter have drew twice, against rivals AC Milan and Torino. The other six have been losses, to teams such as Crotone, who linger in the Serie A relegation zone.
The beginning: Mancini and de Boer
On the 8th August 2016, Roberto Mancini left Inter on mutual agreement, days before the season began. This was the beginning of Inter’s demise. The league had not even begun, and they found themselves without a manager. On a whim, they signed Frank de Boer, who had mixed results. Without a pre-season with his team, de Boer struggled to get his team straight and indifferent league results, bar a win against reigning champions Juventus, were broken up by extremely disappointing losses in the Europa League.
On the 30th October, Inter lost 1-0 to Sampdoria, a Fabio Quagliarella goal the difference. On the 1st November, de Boer was sacked, with a record of 5 wins, 2 draws and 7 losses in all competitions. He believed he needed more time, but clearly the results were unsatisfactory for a team of Inter’s stature. Their club captain, Mauro Icardi, an incredibly talented footballer, was in a war of words with the club’s ultras. It seemed like so early on, Inter’s season was beyond saving.
Stefano Pioli: Turning Things Around
Stefano Pioli was hired days later by Inter, and his first game in charge finished 2-2, in the Milan Derby. Not ideal, but not bad either. In his early days, Inter crashed out of the Europa League, finishing bottom of their group, having lost to Hapoel Beer Sheva, Southampton and Sparta Prague.
Although their fate in Europe had more than likely already been decided by de Boer. In the league, however, Pioli seemed to have performed a miracle. The first 11 league games Inter had under Pioli, they collected 28 points from a possible 33. A remarkable turnaround from the dire start under de Boer.
The season seemed savable for Inter now, under the leadership of new manager Pioli. Their team had begun firing on all cylinders, particularly Marcelo Brozovic, Mauro Icardi and Joao Mario.
The entire squad seemed to have clicked and went up a gear. Champions League qualification, a task that had been forgotten under de Boer, became achievable once more. Was this team the foundation for another great Inter team?
After this brilliant run, things took a turn for the worst once again. Inter found themselves eliminated from the Coppa Italia at the hands of Lazio, a team they had just recently beaten 3-0. They lost the Derby D’Italia to Juventus and their key fixture against Roma.
Then, hope returned. Back-to-back wins, 5-1 over Cagliari, and a stunning 7-1 victory over high-flying Atalanta. Inter seemed to have got the wind back in their sails. However, this was not the case. What followed this was a run of 8 games where they only picked up two points.
The other six matches were crushing defeats to Sampdoria, Crotone, Fiorentina, Napoli, Genoa and Sassuolo. The team just could not seem to pick up a win no matter what they tried.
Inter’s fans looked on in desperation, not believing their eyes. This season has been a rollercoaster of emotions. From the lows at the beginning under de Boer, to the highs in Pioli’s early stint, and back to lows with their recent performances.
After the game against Genoa, Inter’s board decided enough was enough, and Pioli was relieved of his duties. Stefano Vecchi has taken his place temporarily until a suitable replacement is found.
On Sunday 21st May, Inter Milan play Lazio in one of their two final league games. They hover in 8th position, and can finish no higher than 6th. Many candidates have been named as potential managers, including hugely successful Diego Simeone and Chelsea‘s Antonio Conte. Inter have a squad of high level players, and a large budget.
If they can find a manager who can get the players to play to their maximum abilities, they would become more than capable of challenging at the higher ends of the table.
This upcoming summer transfer window will be one which Inter Milan fans will be watching with keen interest for sure. It has been a stunning fall from grace for the treble winning outfit, and it remains to be seen if they will ever reach those incredible heights again.