This is a hard category as, under Mou, the midfield is a nebulous place. There are players that we think of as defenders or forwards, but seem to find themselves lurking in the midfield. MAD and I have included Javier Zanetti in the midfield section as that is where he has spent most of the season (at least until Maicon got hurt). Once again, please feel free to correct me should you feel my ratings are wrong. Note: I have added the level 3 to the scale (thank you PatCook), and no, the picture has nothing to do with the post, I just love it so.
3 = Nelson Rivas
4 = Horrific
5 = Ugh
5.5 = Average
6 = Slightly better than average
6.5 = Good
7 = Double Plus Good
7.5 = Excellent
8 = Great
9 = Stupendous
10 = Fan-freaking-tabulous
My comments are in blue, MAD's are in Black.
Does Javier seem like a 36 year old? He’s played every game that Inter had this season. He’s the consummate professional. He can go forward on the wing or cover for Maicon / Santon when they go forward. He has an effortless grace when he steals the ball from his opponents and it’s nigh impossible to take the ball off him. The vast majority of this season he acted as cover for Maicon, quietly accepting his role for the benefit of the team. He performed when called upon to go forward however. He played in every game and I don't think that he played a bad game this season, even though I recall him playing very well in quite a few - Chievo and Udinese come to mind. He’s Mr. Consistent and has the respect of the whole team. Check out the videos of us winning our recent scudetti to see the love that the team has for Zanetti.
Javier Zanetti is the kind of captain who leads from the front. He is always there, leading the charge, setting the tone, on task, on message. I could not hope or ask for a better, more dedicated captain. He has played literally every single game this season (51 in total), for a staggering 4870 minutes. He is consistent, he is passionate, he is the soul of Inter. After all our years in the woods, I cannot tell you all how gratifying it is to finally see Javier get his moment in the sun (or 4 years, as the case may be). Plus, I love that he has this whole mania about his hair (it must always be perfect). Somehow that little vanity shows that he is human, which makes his achievement this season even more staggering. What will we ever do without him?
Overall Grade: 6.5, 9... Every Single Game!
Deki’s first half of a season was better than the second half. Despite nearly getting transferred, he played like a trooper assuming almost all the attacking midfielder responsibilities once Quaresma and Mancini were found to not be as effective as it was hoped. I can’t fault his second half fade because if it wasn’t for accumulation of cautions he rarely took a game off. He showed his excellent long range shot and bursts into the penalty area. If only he could have finished better or if he had been younger I would be more confident for next season. I don’t think he was as consistent as Javier.
Vai Deki Vai Deki Vai Deki... (that is a little shout out to the S.O.). How sweet was that goal he made against Roma? When I saw that, I knew we were in for a treat. Mou said he would make Stankovic a special project this season, and sure enough, he brought out a pretty darn good midfielder. Come on, you can all admit it now, how happy are we that the Juve fans pitched a fit at him going to play in Turin? It was a gamble, but it paid off and I thank Deki for all his hard work and dedication. True, he got a little tired towards the end of the season, and he was prone to the tactical foul, but I always felt that he was giving every ounce of everything he had to help the team. I think he is good for the locker room - he is a captain for his country and I think it shows. I read that an Italian newspaper played a trick on him before the start of the season: they called Stankovic, pretended to be Mourinho, and told him that he wouldn't be needed this season and not to bother showing up for training. Word is, that phone call reduced Deki to tears. That is how much he loves this club and his teammates - the thought of leaving made him cry! See, now that is what I want to see in a squad member! So, he wasn't always perfect, but his heart was always in exactly right place.
Overall Grade: 6, 7
Figo was invisible for the first half of the season, but once it was determined that Deki was fading at the end of the season, he stepped in like the pro he is. Not surprisingly, it took awhile for him to get up to playing fitness, but he did so. Along with Balotelli and Santon, Figo was one of the season’s second half heroes.
Thinking of Figo makes me a little sad. I dont care that he went from one Spanish team I dont follow to another that is just as meaningless to me. He has always been one of my favorites. I am glad he chose to stay another season and go out with some great games under his belt. He is poised, cool, visionary, and, although he no longer has the legs he once had, he can still pass a ball on a dime. Plus, he got a goal this season! I am proud that he chose to play for Inter and I hope he continues with the club in the front office. Figo, ti amo.
Overall Grade: 6, 6.5 - the bump is 'cause this is the last rating he will get
One of the great disappointments of this season is that Jimenez didn’t get on the field very much. Inter.it says that he made 6 apps, but I really don’t think I can remember half of them. We know that he’s talented, but he may not fit well with our current style. He’ll be transferred, and there’s a bit of shame in that, but hopefully he can reach his potential with his new team.
Ok, here is where MAD and I have a little disagreement. Mou wants to win... everything.... every time. Truly, if he were great or even good, he would have been on the pitch. Personally, I dont know that he is all that talented at all. I mean, he may be a perfectly good player - a journeyman if you will - but he has not done anything that makes me believe he has true greatness in him. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but when he is outplayed by a man arguably on the downswing of his career arc (Stankovic), it makes you wonder. I admit, he had a little problem with injury this year so he was at a disadvantage, but I just dont see this shining aura that the others seem to (MAD included). He will go this summer and I hope that means we get someone we can actually use. Farewell and good luck, Stable boy.
Overall Grade: 5, 4.5/5
From what I understand, Patrick is something of a legend in the EPL and in France. I don’t think I can remember how he played for Juventus either. I have been “guilty” of calling Patrick, “The Immobile One”. I just don’t think he played very well for us this season. Due to necessity he was often the first sub on the field when we were trying to protect a lead. He often got a caution with his first action on the pitch. As with Marco, I think Patrick looked old. Unlike Marco, I can’t think of a good moment Patrick had this season. The image burned into my mind from this past season is Patrick’s weird attempt at making a run into the Udinese penalty area that resulted in a goal, without Patrick actually touching the ball.
Ah, how soon we forget. Everyone, throw your mind back to last September and our away game against Torino, or our home game against Bologna last October. Vieira was not only good in those games, he was excellent. He gave me a tiny little glimmer of hope that this legendary midfielder was actually going to show himself. He was good all through November and it looked like maybe there was something to the hype. And then we had an international break and he inevitably got injured. Well, that was the end of his season. Unfortunately, he played another 9 games. It is funny, but if you look at his ratings from the fans for the second half of the season, the score has an inverse relationship with the number of minutes he played. That is, the longer he was on the pitch, the lower the score. I know Mou likes him, or at least likes what he was, but I cannot take the agony any longer, especially when you consider his huge pay check. He has just got to go this summer.
Overall Grade: 5, 5... because what has he done for me lately?
Cambiasso is the undisputed leader of the midfield and he can read the game like no other player I have ever seen. He jumps passes with uncanny frequency. He has also played as a center back when the team needed him to this season. He can attack, pass and press forward and he can play defense like a madman. One comment I read about him from another supporter on Gazzetta's web site was that he can play midfield all by himself if others get caught too forward. Looking at the ESPN tracking for him invariably shows that he covers 90% of the pitch. I love watching him celebrate a rare goal as in the Bologna game. Not many people look happier at work. The only negative I have for him – his finishing is shockingly bad.
Cuchu can never ever ever leave. He is our CIT (Captain in Training). When I think of all he does for the team, I cannot think of a bad thing to say. Well, there was that strange goal-gift to Bologna, but I suppose I get that it was better to allow the goal than risk the red card plus a penalty. Really, all it did was prove he is not the football machine he appears to be but a mortal. And there is nothing wrong with mortality. Lets see, he was tireless in midfield, covering for our less than stellar center backs (coughRivascough). Plus, and I think this shows his talent more than any other statistic, for all the games he has played (47 games for 4248 minutes), he has only gotten 1 yellow card. 1. And that includes the games he played as a center back. Now that is crazy good.
Overall Grade: 7, 9
Sulley Ali Muntari
Muntari has emerged as one of my favorite players this season. The image that comes to my mind when I reflect on his performance this season is two – fold: 1. Muntari taking GoldenBalls by the throat (0.5 of his grade is for this alone). 2. Making the perfect pass to Balotelli at the end of the perfect counter attack in Turin against Juventus. Muntari can lock down the left midfield like very few players I have ever seen, but he can also attack wonderfully with a wicked shot from distance. He was a dream acquisition and every time someone tells me that Mourinho had a bad transfer season I have a nice little laugh to myself. Neither Milan nor Juve were able to add a midfielder to their roster last summer that was as effective as Sulley. Not Ronaldinho and not anyone of the 5 or so midfielders (Paulson, Sissoko, Ekdahl, Giovinco, Marchisio) that Juventus picked up. Muntari is box to box aggresion. He's a beast. This is for the stat lovers: Muntari scored 4 goals 2 assists this season - 1 goal and 1 assist went against Juventus. The other goals came against Napoli, in which he also assisted, Lazio and Atalanta.
I will always love Muntari for that ugly wonderful goal that saw us beat Juve at home. I could have kissed him right then and there. He is gritty personified. There was a few bumps early on when his reputation preceded him, but he never argued or caused a fuss, just took his lumps no matter how unfair they were. I like him. I like what he brings to the team now that our previous enforcer (Marco) is winding down his career. And I agree, at least a half-point bump for taking Becks by the throat. And that assist in the goal against Juve in Turin? A thing of beauty. He was a great addition to the team. Hooray for us!
Overall Grade: 7, 7
I know that the majority of people on this blog didn’t like the way Mancini played for us. I don’t think he was as bad, for example, as Vieira. When Mancini played I thought that he brought the ball up from the midfield to the attack well. I thought that he even put forth the effort to defend – something which he didn’t ever do for Roma. I don’t think that he was as effective as he could have been – his shooting is terrible – or as effective as people thought he should have been. But as a reserve outside midfielder, I think that he’s serviceable. For the money that we paid for him, I think we should renegotiate his contract or sell him.
I was astounded when I saw that photo of Mancini holding an Inter jersey. Dumbfounded, really. Ok, he was serviceable for Roma, sometimes, but he was just as often crap. I could here the snickering from Rome all the way here in Seattle when we bought him. More than anything, this was my WTF moment of last summer's mercato. Anywho, he is ours now and we will have to make the best of him. That said, he had a couple good games early on in the UCL - he even got an international cap - but then the injury cycle started, and he was just never able to get back to where he was. I cant say he was too much of a disappointment because I had low expectations to begin with. In the end, I have not bonded with Mancini this season so, if he leaves, I wouldn't cry. Of course, if Mou thinks he can pull something out of Mancini, I would be willing to give him a second chance.
Overall Grade: 5.5, 5.5
He is an Inter player until someone tells me otherwise. MAD either forgot about our wayward winger or purposefully left him out. I had such high hopes for him this season, what with his slicky faux-hawk and fancy trick shot. Too bad he was so nervous. To say he did not live up to the hype is an understatement. Still, I dont think he was our worst player. I am willing to give him a second shot, though, due to the circumstances of his transfer. First, this was his first time away from home. Anyone who has ever traveled out of state to go to college knows how hard that first quarter (or semester) can be. Now, think if they spoke a completely different language. Second, he came to the club on the very last day of the market and had no time to train and gel with team. Put that all together and I think that he deserves a second shot. He says he wants to come back (of course, he also said he loved Chelsea), and flat out refused to go to Genoa. I say, give him a shot over the summer and if it still doesn't work out, then we can consider another loan or a transfer. I am still willing to believe, Ricky. Just dont break my heart again. (Everybody: Oh Ricky what a pity you dont understand that you take me by the heart when you take me by the hand.... Yes, I remember the 80s).
Well, that was considerably shorter than yesterday's. Tomorrow, we will have forwards, and, as we only have a few of them, I will include a little best and worst: best/worst game, best/worst player, and best goals scored / best goal scored against us (if you want to throw your two cents in, there is still time to email me at johonnars[at]gmail.com)
Oh, as a side note. If your comment was eaten by the spam filter, it may be because of your word choice. It looks like the "c"-word is now a nono, and any comment containing it will get eaten. So, choose your words carefully. May I suggest yaya as a replacement?