The above was blatantly stolen from one of my favorite podcasts/radio programs of all time, NPR's Car Talk. I use it here to describe how today's blog post is going to be put together.
This game review is going to be a little different for a couple of reasons. First, I need to change things up a little as I have been writing in the same format after every game the same way for almost 2 years now. Not that it’s not fun, but once in a while I need chaos to reign. So unfortunately, you the happy reader will have to suffer. Second, we are at the time of the season where the games mean a little less and the gravity of the moment, if there was any in a game, can be dropped for a moment or 3. Thirdly, I spent the day reliving Michael Keaton’s career in an ‘80s John Hughes flick, back in the days before he was Batman and still doing comedy. In other words, I need a break from reality just now.
Uncharacteristically, I slept late on Sunday and woke up at 9:15 in the AM. While I was looking for a stream that wasn’t labeled Inter v Fiorentina but showing something called “Wigan” (yeah, I know it’s a football team – they talk about it all the time on Football Weekly, I refuse to believe that even English people care about them), wherever that is (one of the bleak parts of England, can’t imagine how I was never able to narrow it down…) I kept an eye on Soccernet.com for the score hoping, nay praying that it wouldn’t change until I got a working stream… well true to form we scored 2 goals seconds before I was able to see anything. Just to taunt me, Fate put it’s thumb on it’s nose and waggled it’s fingers at me as I tuned in just in time to see the team celebration of Cuchu’s goal. I have to say I liked the celebration of Coutinho's goal – which included a mass hydration section.... that was a new one. Apparently it’s very hot in Italy in May at 3:00 PM - ish, when the sun’s rays are most directly hitting the northern hemisphere. Who knew?
The second half looked like Fiorentina were on vacation and we were trying to save legs for the Coppa Italia game coming up. Up until I think it was Santana placed a perfect lob to Gilordino who scored a beauty of a goal. Then we started to look a little wild around the eyes until Coutinho who played the whole game, the spunky little bastard, put in a Sneijderesque free kick that the Fiorentina keeper had no chance at. Because we are Inter and can’t escape controversy – or Madness, what the bloody hell was Marco doing in this game! – Fiorentina probably should have had a penalty was Marco nailed Montolivio in the area. Behrami looked like he got hit too, but in slo-mo it looked like an exaggerated dive to me. What with Mother’s Day and all, I haven’t had a chance to check out the pundits so, if I am wrong on this one, sue me, I guess.
The end result of all this is that Inter gain 4 points on second place and we are guaranteed to go into the Champions League directly to the group stages. We can nail down second place with a point next week at Napoli. If I were a betting man, I would bet on a 1-1 draw for next week as I believe that both teams are very satisfied with the current state of things, but that’s just me. Do as you will.
Odds and Ends
There’s a lot of schmutz in the Inter/Serie A news lately and I haven’t been able to comment on all the stuff that I wanted to for varying reasons, so I will take this opportunity to now. Again, the only one’s who will suffer is you the reader, and frankly, I’m okay with that...
Montolivo to Inter is considered a reality. I don’t know how to feel about this. The real question is whether anyone believes that Ricky Monty is a good enough midfielder to start over… Motta? Kharja? Zanetti? – let’s be objective here… Stankovic? I have to say… yeah, he probably could start above almost every name there on merits as a midfielder. Zanetti usually starts more as captain and cover than as an actual midfielder… that’s a tough call for a coach to make. But over the rest, yeah I could probably see it. He’d be a much more mobile Motta – ish player, I guess.
Do we buy Kharja? He’ll be 29 next season and I don’t know how I feel about him. He’s much more midfielder than what we usually have here. Usually we have attacking mids and defensive mids who specialize. Kharja is more jack of all trades who has his good days and bad days. I say keep him as bench player we might actually use in times of need. Plus, he’s super cheap; I think Genoa was paying him 500,000.00 Euros or something. Definitely worth that money and a year or two extension contract.
I know that Pazzini has his detractors here… but I can’t for the life of me think why. He needs service, but when he gets it, he makes a difference. 9 goals in 15 apps, 3 games winners, 3 game tying scores, games with multiple scores. I know he didn’t score against Milan, but you know what… neither did anyone else on the team. Anyone care to guess how many crosses/through balls we put to him that he was able to shoot from? I hadn’t seen that game lately, but I am going bet on less than two. It’s not realistic to expect him to score from that kind of crap. Besides, he can use his head to score… unlike anyone else on this team who calls themselves a forward.
Cambiasso set a personal record for goals this season.
I think Maicon set a new personal record for assists.
16 different Inter players have scored in league play this season. Eto’o putting in 20+ by himself isn’t going to make it, next season. A team who calls themselves title contenders in Serie A needs to score over 50 goals per season, minimum and should be shooting for 65- ish. We won’t get that with just Eto’o, great as he is. We need another reliable striker to go with Pazzini and Eto'o.
I have been reading both around the Offside neighborhood and in the general media that Ranocchia is considered to have had a bad half year with Inter. On a completely sarcastic note, some people can’t understand why Italian clubs aren’t patient with young players. >:^/
I mean if the media, critics and some supporters aren’t patient… then why should we expect the club to be? The boy is 22 years old on a team that is under global scrutiny and he was playing for Bari last season, for pity’s sake. It’s unrealistic - and I am sorry to offend anyone here – and it’s stupid, to expect that he’s going to play like a legend in their prime. I think I can say that he’s had about 2 really bad league games… out of the 15 or so he was on the field for with us – Parma and Milan. That’s it. Those are the really bad games he had with us, to my mind. Should this be construed as a failure?
Froggy is going to make it or he won’t, his future isn’t set yet, so who knows what will happen next year or the year after that, but to call him a failure for 2 bad games and maybe a couple more average ones – which a lot of veteran players would kill for on a team like Inter, by the way, is as foolish as criticizing his acclimation period into the club in January. To my mind, it only shows that the coaching staff set Froggy up to succeed here in January by letting the young man integrate professionally into the squad, settle in his new environment and get the rest of the group to like him so that there weren’t any dressing room problems as he gradually levered into a starting role. Judging from the positive results this season so far, and to my mind his mostly good play, I think Frog Boy will be fine.
I know that Lazio supporters and critics have a problem with what Lotito is doing with the whole CONI thing, but I love it. Basically, for those who haven’t heard, CONI is the Italian Olympic committee and they control the Stadio Olimpico and Lazio’s rent, therein. The Lazio ownership has been locked into the same rent since their predecessors and CONI refuse to renegotiate, so Lotito, who is a little late on the rent, must register a stadium with UEFA to play in Europe. He can’t register the Olimpico because then he must pay his entire rent up in late April, so he registered Fiorentina’s stadium, with their agreement giving Lotito a few more months to pay his rent, but more importantly tweaking the nose of CONI.
Ya’see, Lotito is required by law to play his league games in the region that he’s registered in – this is to keep teams from leaving and finding better/cheaper stadiums – but, as far as I know, there is no law in place for European games. CONI is getting worried and embarrassed in the same fell swoop.
There are a lot of things that can be said of Lotito – crazy, ruthless, egomaniac, mercurial, hated, a bad person with no morals – but no one will ever accuse him of being stupid and it’s this kind of ballsy move that will eventually force the issue of stadiums in Italy. I hate the state of stadiums in Italy, but as it stands, only in Turin, where FIAT basically owns the city can a team actually get a permit to own a stadium. For now.
JuBentus is out of the Champions League if Udinese get one more point, or if Roma or Lazio win one more game. I just wanted to get that out there so we can all get a good laugh that a team with almost 100 million in wages is having this much trouble qualifying for the Champions League. I won't say that they won't make it yet... this is JuBentus we are talking about. Money can buy anything.
I feel disappointed about the Laurent Blanc thing because he was such an up and coming coach who I thought could handle a team like Inter at some point in the near future and do well. It’s too bad when such a smart guy does something so monumentally stupid to hurt people. The real unfortunate thing is that it could have so easily have been avoided. I know that Moratti is close to Blanc, but I hope he removes Blanc from consideration as coach in the future.
I know that we are connected to several players – and I already kind of broke my own rule in that I don’t want to talk about fantacalcio – see RickyMonty above – but I would rather talk about how we are slicing down our wage bill. As of September La Gazzetta had out wage bill at 121.4 million € (second most in Serie A). If we include the Jan transfer window and likely summer departure scenarios then our bill will look like this:
2 Muntari – although I would welcome him back at a pay cut
.8 Biabiany =
2 Pazzini – I am not sure about this one… it could be 2.5. At Samp he was at 1.5
2 Ranocchia – I don’t think it’s much more than this… We will see next September.
.5 Kharja =
That’s 5.7ish million cleared off the wage bill. The good news is that even while trending the wage bill downward we added 3 definite, big time contributors while clearing the last of the Deadweight. I didn’t include the 30+ defenders/forwards that might be leaving, nor Milito. No point in getting hopes up sky high.
This season coming up would be the perfect time to bring back Caldirola and stick him on the team as a contributor to the defense. We have Maicon, Materazzi, Cordoba, Chivu, Samuel and Lucio running out of contract in July of 2012 as of right now. I can plausibly consider 4 players who will not be here past that date and July 2012 is next summer, by the way.
We need to know what we got and whether the youth team is going to actually give us anyone we can use. Donati and Caldirola are playing in a top flight division European League right now and we have at least two players on the Primavera who is old enough to come up. We also have Andreolli coming in the summer – there needs to be a meeting on this yet, but I don’t see him not coming, especially if that means that we get another player.
For the record, the midfield players that I see Inter going after and probably getting 2 out of the 3 – Montolivo, Constant and Parolo. Constant and Parolo are exactly the type of midfielders that Branca has been trying to bring here. Technical, can play defense and can make the occasional foray forward. Montolivo can do 2 out of those 3 things, but the man is also a national teamer. I can’t see Branca passing on that. But I have been wrong before on this stuff.
It’s got to be Samuel Eto’o. Did all the work up front to supply Pazzini and Cuchu and you know what, he didn’t have to, because he’s Samuel Freaking Eto’o. He has more Trebles than have been won in 70+years in Italy's Serie A's existence. He has 3 Champions League winners medals. He’s the most decorated player on a freaking continent. He should be demanding that people supply him. But he’s not, he being the team player he has been since he arrived.