Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Ryan Ross On December - 15 - 2011

Inter Targeting Champion’s League?

Internazionale targeting the Champion’s League? Not at this rate. President Massimo Moratti declared: “we have to end the season in the Champion’s League places. That is an absolute must.” This is quite a statement for a team who are eight points below third place Milan and ten behind leaders Juventus.

Many headlines have been dedicated to Inter’s recent plight as this is the club’s worst start to a season since the 1940’s. They’ve changed managers, lost key players to injury, and rewarded veterans with new expensive contracts all in a season’s work for President Moratti.

The Nerazzurri lost 1-0 to Udinese recently. It was a match which saw striker, Giampaolo Pazzini, miss a penalty, having “slipped” in the run up; the Italian international had failed to find the net in over 70 days. In a way, he is the perfect adjective for Inter’s current state.

Pazzini is a proven goal-scorer; netting 36 goals in 75 games for Sampdoria, where he formed one-half of the ‘goal twins,’ with Antonio Cassano. He should be scoring for Inter. Yet, much like the club, at this time he is failing to deliver what is expected of him. Everyone knows he can play at this level, so why isn’t he doing so?

During last weekend’s 2-0 victory over Fiorentina, Pazzini netted a vital goal. He said: “Finally. It was a goal I was looking for and waiting for. I had told my teammates that I’d hold a party if I got a shot on target, let alone a goal! I’d better get planning, then.” The squad will hope for many more parties this season.

Inter too, have proven they’re capable of performing at the highest level. Ignoring the treble-winning season; they won twenty and drew four, out of thirty-one games, under Leonardo last season; finishing second, behind neighbours AC Milan. Alarmingly, this was only seven months ago.

Last summer, the biggest change to the squad was the departure of Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroonian striker was sold to Russian side, Anzhi Makhachkala, for a massive fee of €21million. Eto’o netted 33 goals for Inter last season, perhaps keeping them afloat. But his departure was a must for a club severely in debt and currently struggling to meet UEFA’s Financial Fair Play criteria.

Despite these issues, current incumbent, Claudio Ranieri, is expected to achieve a top three finish by May. He has the likes of Sneijder, Cesar, Cambiasso and Forlan at his disposal. Yet moulding these prodigious talents into a team is easier said than done.

Thus far, Ranieri has attempted to promote Inter’s youth players into the squad. Faraoni, Obi, Alvarez and Castaignos have featured in recent months.

This is an encouraging sign as the club need to install a structure which promotes long-term stability and provides youth-products with a chance to impress.

Yet, despite Ranieri doing this, the white elephant in the room remains Moratti. The President has no patience and is unlikely to remain faithful to his manager, whilst the club’s in transition. History supports this view; look at the lengthy list of managers Moratti has employed.

Moratti must stay faithful to Ranieri; the “Tinker-man” has a proven record and will steer Inter towards Europe. He has demonstrated tactical flexibility so far; and the return of Sneijder and Forlan from injury will ensure he has more options available.

The January transfer window is going to be vital for Inter. This month has the potential to shape the club’s future. Investment in the squad is essential, but has to be done carefully.

The club should look to move on the older squad players. The likes of Cordoba, Chivu, Maicon, Muntari, Milito all earn high wages and removing them would significantly aid meeting UEFA’s Financial Fair Play criteria.

It is unlikely that these players would be missed either. Maicon is continually absent with injury and Jonathan is a ready-made replacement. Milito too has a horrendous injury record; Castaignos would benefit from more playing time. Christian Chivu has been on the decline for several seasons, becoming a liability in defence.

The Nerazzurri should look to target younger players in their place. The squad could benefit from a youthful, pacey centre-back; as well as a long-required winger.

Time will tell what happens to Inter this season. But at the current rate, it’s unlikely they’ll clinch that much coveted 3rd spot. Where the blame lays for that however, is open for debate.

Ryan Ross

I became enthralled with Calcio back in the 90’s, when James Richardson presented Football Italia. My early mornings were spent following the trials and tribulations of Internazionale, during a period where they always flattered to deceive. It took a Frenchman to get me hooked though; Youri Djorkaeff, my favourite player of all time. This guy was key to Inter’s midfield, never mind his role in France’s World Cup win in 1998! I have a keen interest in Calcio’s rich history.

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One Response so far.

  1. Michael Dixon says:

    Agree with this article and it would be a major surprise if Inter did not continue their recent climb up the league table. The big issue seems to be be how patient Ranieir will be with his two misfiring strikers. In his first season at Roma, Vucinic was in the same boat missing chances etc. Ranieri kept faith with him and his form suddenly blossomed.

    The President will have to show some maturity throughout the season, but having seen Juventus and Roma decline after they both lost the services of Ranieri, Juventus inexplicably so, you just cannot tell how these people react.

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