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TB On June - 16 - 2011

The Inter-View: A Coaching Conundrum

After the curtain fell on the 2010-11 season, uncertainties were expected regarding Inter’s transfer market. One thing did seem certain after the Nerazzurri hoisted the Coppa Italia however was the retention of Leonardo as manager.

A little more than two weeks have since passed and with it came a shocking twist regarding Inter’s head coaching position.  Reports started to leak out late Monday evening that President Massimo Moratti had contacted Marcelo Bielsa about the possibility of taking over as manager at the club.

Everyone was blindsided by the rumours swirling about Leonardo’s departure and Bielsa’s potential future job.  The club was quick to rubbish any claims of Leo leaving Tuesday morning, with Moratti stating that Inter “have a good coach” and that there had been no personal contact made by him towards the former Argentina and Chile coach.

Little pieces of the puzzle have slowly been unraveled over the last day or so, including the news that Leo has been offered a significant front office position at Paris Saint-Germain.  On Wednesday, while in attendance at the Unione Petrolifera conference in Rome, Moratti clarified the situation regarding Leo and admitted that Inter were indeed on the lookout for a new coach.

According to reports, Leo has until the end of this week to decide if he will take the job at his former club. His decision to leave Inter maybe unduly influenced by hostility he feels from his former club, AC Milan.  Since his move across town this past December, he has been the subject of derogatory statements and chanting from Rossoneri tifosi, as well as the Rossoneri captain and players.  This includes the chanting of “uomo di merda” which literally translates to “man of s-t” directed towards the Brazilian during Milan matches and Scudetto celebrations.

This also means that Inter will be closing in on announcing the new head coach shortly, as talks with Bielsa have intensified.  There have been other names thrown around as well - including former Inter players Siniša Mihajlović and Laurent Blanc as well as ex-Palermo coach Delio Rossi - but Bielsa has been the only name to have been acknowledged by the club.

Interisti have questioned the credentials of Bielsa, as many are not familiar with him due to the fact that he has never coached in Italy or outside of the New World in a significant role.  He was linked previously to the Inter job in November 2010 as a replacement for Rafa Benitez, but the club obviously went with Leonardo.  Bielsa may be most recently remembered as Chile’s manager who revived their national team and brought them to the World Cup after a long absence from the tournament.  He also comes with a ringing endorsement from Inter captain Javier Zanetti, who has said previously that Bielsa taught him “how to live and interpret football.”

Of course a change in coaches always brings in other questions, mainly regarding the status of players currently at the club or potential targets.  Bielsa’s potential hiring could play a pivotal role in capturing Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez, who played under Bielsa for Chile.  This change is also pivotal in the case of Wesley Sneijder, as this move may influence the outcome of his decision of where he will play next season.

Unfortunately for the Nerazzurri, this coaching change will be the fourth in the previous 13 months, which is undermining the stability that had been built the previous six years.  No terms or contract length have been leaked but it is important that this coming year brings back the balance that had been missing this past season.

Inter must steady the ship before being able to move forward, and hopefully Marcelo “Loco” Bielsa will be able to lead the way.

Read TB’s update on this story here and follow her on Twitter

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