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The Other Side of the Coin or: Hey, This isn't Pâté, it's Cat Food!

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Since we have the view of the market from one side (thank you MAD), I thought I would present it from the other - a view that is probably not as popular - but I feel just as valid. I cant help but feel a little frustrated at the club's lack of foresight and almost total non participation in the incoming side of the summer market. I understand the need for fiscal responsibility and that one shouldn't purchase just for the sake of making the fans happy. Still, I dont feel that those ideas and keeping the club competitive with a couple targeted signings are mutually exclusive. Also, what about the new coach? One has to feel for poor Rafa Benetiz. Here he thinks he has finally escaped Liverpool's crippling economic problems only to find that he has no support at Inter either. Just like at Anfield, he is told to make do. Having to walk in Mourinho's 50-foot-tall shadow is hard enough, add to that the total disregard for his requests by the club and it begins to feel like Benitez is being set up for failure. And Branca and Moratti aren't helping matters. Saying things like Inter didn't participate in the market because they dont need to and this market was a success because we retained Maicon just makes me more angry. I am willing to put up with quite a lot of double speak from club officials, but dont give me cat food and tell me that it's pâté - that is just insulting.

Right here, at the very start, let me say that my anger and disappointment has absolutely nothing to do with the market of other clubs. This is a purely internal issue. I dont care who Milan or Roma or Juve or anyone has brought in. I am concerned solely with Inter and what this means for Inter's furture.

Now that we have that out of the way...

The market results as tallied by La Gazzetta dello Sport:

Market stats summer 2010
This is slightly incorrect as it doesn't show Obinna going back out on loan, but the numbers are probably right. Our most expensive purchase was the othe half of Biabiany while our biggest sale was Balotelli. In the end, Inter come out 48.8 million euro ahead. La Gazzetta gave the Inter market a grade of 6. They are being kind.

As we can see, Inter made some bank this market. Coutinho does not come into this tally as his contract was bought two years ago.

For anyone who has been watching Inter’s market this summer, it is clear that the club’s first priority was selling. The price was set on all the players (except maybe Zanetti, one hopes), and there was a take it or leave it stance. I got the impression that the club was not exactly happy when Manchester City and Real Madrid started haggling for players. Inter expected them to happily pony up the cash. I also think that if Milito had performed better at the World Cup, he would not be with Inter now (whether that is a good or bad thing is up for debate and largely beside the point here).

Wont someone please help this boy fulful his dreams?
If not for the FIGC ruling, Matias Aguirregaray would be an Inter player now while Maicon would be in Madrid.

The next big blow in Inter’s summer market was the FIGC’s inane ruling that only one non-EU player could be transferred in from outside Italy. Inter had lined up a Maicon replacement from Uruguay and all they were waiting for was Real Madrid. With the ruling, that deal had to be abandoned and it became increasingly more difficult to work a deal for Maicon. It also meant that the demand for players inside of Italy increased, as lower and mid-table clubs were no longer allowed to bring in relatively low-cost South American replacements for the players they had developed and were now ready to sell on to bigger teams. With higher demand comes higher prices and many players we heard were in Branca’s notebook were effectively priced off the market. Similarly, due to UEFA’s Fair Play rules, many clubs are scrambling to pay down debts and so are trying to get top dollar for their assets. This effectively raised the price for other transfer targets (like Mascherano and Kuyt) to such an extent that Inter felt they just were not “worth it.”

I understand that it is foolish to buy players that are overpriced or “just because,” but the team (no matter what they won last year) is in desperate need for at least a striker. In the best case scenario, Inter would also pick up a left back and a midfielder. What did the club do? Not a whole lot. Rafa had very modest requests (considering). He wanted a defensive midfielder so the defense could play higher and a striker to replace Balotelli. If possible, specifically Mascherano and Kuyt from Liverpool.

Mario Balotelli now plays for Manchester city and
Spoiled brat or not, his goals last season brought in 8 points. Who will bring home those points now?

There was a long, drawn out affair over Mascherano, in the end he went to Barcelona for 24 million euro. I dont know how much Inter offered, but according to Hodgeson, it was so low as to not even be considered a real offer. He speculated that Branca faxed the offer were “just to satisfy some manager." They didn't even respond because they "consider[ed] this offer ridiculous.” (and that some manager remark - ouch. Not nice, Hodgeson, not nice at all)

I think Inter also made some half-hearted attempts to bring Kuyt in, but those also felt like we were going through the motions just to say we had. Basically, if Liverpool would let them go for what we were willing to pay (which was Muntari and a small amount of cash), then Rafa would get his wish. If not, we would look elsewhere. There was talk of Sculli and Inler (Sculli even had a tearful goodbye with the fans), but for some undisclosed reason, they fell through. Similarly, Forlan came up a few times - surely he could make a difference off the bench for Inter, but Atletico Madrid didn’t want to sell him. Or at least not for what was offered.

Rafael van der Vaart - a bargin at 4 million euro
This guy could help a bit. And at 4 million euro, it would be a steal.

On the last day of the market, rumor is that Real Madrid offered Rafael van der Vaart to Inter after a deal fell through, but Moratti had his heart set on Forlan or Aguero so said no deal. Let’s be clear here: van der Vaart went to Tottenham for 8 million pounds, about 10 million euro. Real Madrid gave Inter a 6 million euro coupon to use towards the purchase of a player as part of the settlement for Mourinho. That means Inter could have gotten a creative attacking midfield option for an outlay of 4 million euro. How is that not a good, fiscally responsible deal?

So where does that leave Inter? In my opinion, in a very precarious situation. The failure to act over the summer in any meaningful way means that not only do we have a new coach who may well feel abandoned by his management, but many of the fans are unhappy, at least one of the players feels let down, and Inter’s biggest asset (and a large part of our recent success) - our fabled depth - is no more.

David Suazo for Honduras
This is not depth, this is mediocrity.

Inter’s starting 11 right now includes all three of our legitimate striking options. Suazo is still on the books largely because his salary in relation to his skill makes him unsellable. He is, for all intents and purposes, a 3.5-million-euro-a-year door stop. He didn’t make the Champions League list and and I hope he doesn’t see the field this season. Quite simply, he is not good enough and the fact that he has become an option demonstrates just how disastrous this market truly was. Inter’s only real off the bench forward is Biabiany. Last year with Parma he played 29 Serie A games and had 6 goals and 3 assists. He shows a lot of pace, but doesn’t have Balotelli's physical presence and has no European experience at all. Basically, he may be someone to work in now and then, but as of yet, he doesn’t appear to be a game-changer.

In the midfield, we have a ton of players, but not a whole lot of real options. For creativity, there is Sneijder, Thiago Motta, Coutinho and arguably, Stankovic. Of those four, really only Sneijder is, for want of a better term, “world class.” Deki was and has his brief moments, but cannot be counted on. Thiago Motta could be but cannot stay healthy long enough to make a real impact. The knee injury that kept him from playing at Barcelona has come back and he will be out at least until October. After that, who knows. I think it would be a mistake to rely on him. Coutinho is very very young and has even less experience than Biabiany. He needs at least a season (probably two) to find his way. So, if Sneijder picks up another ankle injury during his time with the Dutch NT this weekend, the only option is Stankovic. If that doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, I dont know what will. By the way, I know that technically Mancini is an attacking forward/winger, but that man is even more of a waste of space than Suazo (also for 3.5 million euro). He is an embarrassment to the team and I am gobsmacked that he was included on the CL list. Joel Obi fits somewhere in here as well, and while he shows promise, I dont know how much actual responsibility he is ready for.

Coutinho against Bologna
He has exactly 36 Serie A minutes. Let's not crush the kid under the weight of our expectations. Give him a few games until you dub him the next great thing.

Defensive midfielders are a bit more tricky. Since we didn’t get a leftback or the defensive midfielder Rafa wanted, everything hinges on Santon's and Maicon’s fitness. With both available, Zanetti would be free to partner Cambiasso in the midfield. Between the two of them and Mariga, I think we are pretty well covered. The only problem is, Santon’s fitness and play level are, at this point, a complete unknown. If Zanetti has to cover more in defense, that means most of our depth in the holding midfield role will have to come from the newley promoted Nwankwo. Once again, depending on a first-year youth player is an awful lot of pressure for the kid.

Inter’s defense is old. Under Mou, that wasn’t much of a problem but with Rafa’s new mystery system (of doom), it appears the defense will have to cover a lot more ground. Hopefully, Rafa will realize that this plays exactly to our weaknesses and not at all to our strengths. With Chivu stranded at left back for who knows how long, our youngest central defender is Lucio (May 1978) followed closely by Samuel (March 1978). Neither, though, are particularly boyish although both are still more than capable. Should anything befall either of them, though, there are only the old stand-byes of Cordoba and Materazzi - and in this case I do mean old - as backup. Either (or both) are ok for a game here or there, maybe even an appearance off the bench, but the thought of having to rely on either for any meaningful amount of time makes my stomach churn. I shudder to think of what will happen should Rafa get it into his mind to try his old rotation policy. Things look a bit better with the addition of Santon to the squad. Should that ever happen, Chivu could be used as cover for the central defense and we would not have to worry that Materazzi will inadvertently break someone’s leg.

santon-manu
Will this boy ever come back to us? Or has his body betrayed him?

And for the record, Nelson Rivas doesn't count. For some reason, he turned down a move to Cessena on the last day of the transfer market. For what possible purpose, I dont know. He is not on the CL list and if I never see him in an Inter jersey again, it will be too soon.

Keeper is the one position I actually feel ok about. I am thrilled with Julio Cesar and I think Castellazzi still has a lot of catch left in his hands. That is, we have some actual cover here. Depth even. Yay!

Castellazzi - our one useful signing
Holy Cow! The club actually plugged a whole with Castellazzi's purchase. Good for you, club. Now tell me again why we didn't get a forward.

Ok after all that, you can see why I am just a little worried. Sure, we have some good players. Yes, they will most likely do at least alright in the league. Do we have the depth to mount a legitimate challenge again for the treble? Probably not. I am not at all convinced we even have the drive to win the league this year - which isn’t too much of a tragedy considering the last 5 years. I know that bothers many of you, but I cant help but think that the cold, hard truth is that between losing Mourinho and Balotelli, and hamstringing our new coach, we just will not have what it takes. I am not complaining, simply stating what I believe to be the truth. The sad state of affairs that sees players like Mancini actually making our champions league list is proof enough that real depth is a thing of the past for Inter. A poorly timed tackle or two on key players will see this whole squad come down like a house of cards.

60758132
Poor guy. Out of the Liverpool pan and into the Inter fire. I bet he isn't smiling any more.

As for Rafa, who knows what that will do to him. Rumor is he is angry and I dont blame him. He may be perfectly adequate, but he is not a miracle worker and given that he will not even be afforded the opportunity to actually try his tactics (apparently we dont have the correct players), it sure looks like he is being set up for failure. Not to mention he was leaving a financial meltdown at Liverpool to come to a team where I would bet he thought he would be supported. Instead, he is in a very similar situation but with even less power. At least at Liverpool he could actually choose the players they wouldn’t bring in. At Inter, he cant even do that. I legitimately feel badly for Benitez. He isn’t known for being, well, a winner, and here he is being asked to start from two paces back. Not nice, not nice at all. I wonder if he will quit or stick it out and take the abuse (because the press will hammer him if he doesn’t win).

Look, I understand that Inter is in debt and we cannot go on forever spending. I applaud that the club is finally doing something positive for its financial future. At the same time, you cannot hope to actually win anything without moving forward, even if that move just provides the psychological boost the squad (and coach) require. The roster we have right now has about 13 players - 15 including Thiago Motta and Santon - who are good enough to challenge at the top. That leaves very little wiggle room. I would argue that when it comes to forwards that leaves no room at all.

I am ok with aiming for the top 3 in the league and maybe the quarterfinals of the champions league (and that is if we are lucky). What I am not ok with is having the club tell me that everything is moonbeams and roses and Inter is the strongest team in Europe so I should just sit down and smile like a good girl. Inter was the strongest team in Europe, but in football, things change quickly and teams must either keep up or they will be left behind. Dont talk down to the fans by telling us that no investments were made because there were none that were up to snuff or that keeping the players the team already owns is the same as investing in the roster. There are players that would and could help, and were available at a good price, they just weren’t exciting enough for Moratti to changes his plans of paying down as much debt as possible to comply with the new rules. Which is a great plan. I dont need big-name signings, but I do want honesty from the club and realistic goals. We had a great run and now it is time to hunker down and pay the price for all that glory. I get it. Just dont insult my intelligence by telling me otherwise.

Win or lose, I love this team. And hell, you never know, I could be 100% wrong. It has happened before.

FORZA INTER

A little Tripletta juice to help us get through the dry times: