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TB On June - 23 - 2011

The Inter-View: Cathartic Confessions

Inter have been coach-less for little under a week since Leonardo’s official departure from the club last Friday (June 17, 2011). An outsider may look at Inter’s recent coaching trend and make a false assumption that the club has returned to the frequent coaching turnover of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

This is not the Inter of ten years ago, as many casual observers would like to believe.

In the past thirteen months, Inter have won trophies at the end of both seasons yet the managers who have led the Nerazzurri to these triumphs have abandoned the club of their own accord almost immediately.  It is not the club’s fault that both Jose Mourinho and Leonardo could not handle the pressure associated with being the Nerazzurri head coach.

With all due respect to Mou and with what he helped achieve at Inter, he walked out prematurely on a long term project with present and future ramifications.  The Portuguese stated his intent to leave Inter in the moments following a historic Champions League win in Madrid, while giving an interview on live television.  Even though it had been hypothesized during the build up a few weeks prior to the European Cup Final, “Il Speciale” was rumoured to take over as the coach of Real Madrid, reportedly leaving because he had grown tired of the pressures in Italy, where every waking moment he was scrutinized and criticized by the Italian media.

The pressure also seemed too much for Leonardo to handle, although he performed surprisingly well. He finished the season with the Coppa Italia title and second place despite the seventh place league position and a double digit point deficit he inherited from his failed predecessor.  With so much success, why would Leo leave?

The city of Milan became a hostile environment for the Brazilian as he was continually confronted by angry AC Milan tifosi and was subjected to chanting, name calling and abuse.  These confrontations, coupled with the stresses of coaching, may have influenced Leo to accept a lucrative offer from Paris St. Germain reportedly for €5 million per annum as a director at the French club.  Inter President Massimo Moratti acknowledged in Leonardo’s final days as coach that he was happiest working in a directorial role, as opposed to the high pressured responsibilities of a coach at a club the magnitude of Inter.

Mourinho and Leonardo leaving cannot wholly be the fault of Inter.  Similarly, the current coaching predicament is nothing like the situation of 10-15 years ago.  In fact, the coaching conundrum facing the Nerazzurri presently is distinctly different than even a year ago.  Where Mourinho left abruptly, making it difficult to fill such an intimidating vacancy due to Inter’s unprecedented success, Leo’s departure has created a contextually different situation.  Last year, one coach threw his hat into the ring.  This year, no less than 15 coaches have shown interest in the managerial position which has only been available for six days.  Therefore, it is imperative for Inter to have a coach who will fit the team and is going to stay for the duration of their respective contract.

President Moratti has done everything in his power to restore the grandeur of Inter, which includes 15 titles in the last six years:

• 1 Champions League (2009-2010),

• 1 Club World Cup (2010),

• 5 consecutive Scudetti (2006-2010),

• 4 Coppa Italia titles (2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10, 2010-11) and

• 4 Supercoppa titles (2005, 2006, 2008, 2010).

With this being said, President Moratti and the management at Inter should be applauded and praised for bringing the Nerazzurri back to glory.  The Inter management should not be blamed nor be held responsible for the individual actions of those who did not see their contract through. If one wants to assign blame, then it should be shouldered by the coaches who decided to walk out on their contracts and on Inter.

Inter in the last five days have evaluated numerous coaching candidates to assess who will be the right fit in terms of experience, player management, integrity and character.  All of these characteristics are congruent with one of the greatest clubs in the world: FC Internazionale Milano.

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