I wasn’t around for the second half as I had a Mother’s Day commitment, but my reaction as I checked the score before I left the house was telling. I left the game Inter up by one and making chance after chance in the first half. I checked the score and Inter were down 2-1 and I just felt resignation. I checked the score again at the end and I still wasn’t mad. I had seen this movie before. I had seen it against Parma. I had seen it all season really. This Inter wasn’t capable of defending a one goal lead. There were too many holes on this team. Too many players didn’t have a reserve tank in them – mentally or physically. This was an exhausted team and perhaps for the first time in a long while, the drama finally got to them.
There’s no doubt that Stramaccioni has his work cut out for him. I said in my preview for this game that it was must win. It was, not for the Champions League place, but for players who wanted to prove that they wanted to come back next season. When I left the game at halftime Guarin was having himself a hell of a half. Really the whole team looked up for it and was taking the game to Lazio. I thought I was leaving the game in good hands for the second…
Looking at the player ratings that the supporters left at Inter.it, it confirmed what I thought. The only ones getting decent scores were Guarin, Zanetti, Milito and Longo: the two guys desperate to make the squad for next season and the two guys who would kill themselves running for the team. Poli and Nagatomo also got higher scores then most – the supporter base rewarding the high effort guys. I can deal with that. Alvarez and Pazzini got the lowest grades, but I think the Pazzini grade was more of a season long commentary. As a second half sub, he was only on the field for a half hour and the score was already 1-1. He had 2 minutes, at most, on the field until the second goal came in.
Anyway, the supporter rankings are rarely accurate indicators of how a player did on the field. But they are very accurate to decipher the mood of the fanbase. Pazzini isn’t loved this season as he was last season, that’s for sure. Zanetti would get a decent grade if he sat the whole game on the bench torturing infants. It’s not that Inter fans support infanticide; it’s that they have so much love for Zanetti.
The more practical result of the game wasn’t determined by the actions that occurred in Rome. Udinese won. Napoli won. Our fate was sealed with or without the victory. It’s to be the Europa League and the part of the Europa League that no one wants – the preliminary stages where a team has to qualify for the endless group stage. I guess it would be too much to hope that we make a better showing for this tournament than we did for Serie A this season.
This team, in an effort to finally give the impression that it’s a professional sports team, has decided to take a different trail than it did last season and conclude it’s business as soon as possible – especially considering that the Europa League opens August 2nd.
We have seen the last of Cordoba and Orlandoni from the sport altogether – and expect me to say more about these gentlemen at a later date.
There is considerable evidence to suggest that Inter and Chivu, despite having held extension talks, are closer to a divorce. Chivu doesn’t play much, he has one of the larger salaries on the team and he’s over 30. I understand the extension talks, but I think it’s time to say goodbye. Chivu’s addition to the squad and his contract are emblematic of a different era in Inter’s history – one that is, in the words of Javier Zanetti, over.
Zarate is on his way back to his team of origin. As is Palumbo. There seems to be some confusion as to whether Poli has played the required games for his automatic transfer – but I still don’t see him leaving. Guarin’s loan is over but as with Poli, I don’t see him leaving – Porto doesn’t want him and he wants to stay.
Lucio and Forlan are the other imminent departures. There are several strong rumors of clubs in Europe and in Brazil who want Lucio. Inter are also faced with Ranocchia – who also has teams monitoring his status - wanting/deserving more time on the field. My personal hope, as I have stated several times here, is that Lucio goes and that Ranocchia is given every chance to become a major contributor. I am willing to live with the mistakes if I can see progress.
Forlan also has strong rumors of interest from other clubs plus his father is also casting doubt regarding Diego’s future. Diego has said that he wants to stay but there are rumors of representatives from teams in Brazil coming to Milan to deal with Inter directly. Stay tuned.
So to recap: Cordoba, Orlandoni, Zarate and Palumbo are already gone. Chivu has one foot out the door and the other is on a banana peel. I don’t think he’ll last the week. There are reports of several offers for Lucio and Forlan, both of which have been the subject of strong criticism from the fan base.
All in all, I think that I can state without much difficulty that these won’t be the only folks to leave us this season. Also, I would look to lose one or two or five of the primaveras. There are too many players that the team needs to buy and limited cash funds… this is one of the reasons to have a great youth project folks – teams (other teams apparently) like the cheap salaries on young players and we need more immediate quality.
Every side has already confirmed that talks in the Lavezzi negotiation has started and that Pandev isn’t enough on his own to lower the price significantly. So there is going to be long talks about how that price can be lowered. There are a few things that we have in our favor for these talks: Lavezzi wants to come here, his girlfriend loves Milan and good relations between the owners – fostered last summer and reported here that something was brewing.
PSG has a ton of cash to offer and I am sure that Napoli would love it, but the player’s will and continuing the good will between teams have to come into consideration. PSG will end all communication with Napoli at the conclusion of any negotiation for a player. But Inter would be happy to work co-ownership, loans and transfers with Napoli for years to come on quality young players that Inter have a knack for turning out lately. Also, Inter would love to make a business alliance with Napoli as they have with Genoa and Chievo.
Couinho and Mariga come back to an Inter that both probably won’t recognize. Mariga is exactly the type of player that Strama desires in the midfield and assuming Cambiasso, Stankovic, Poli, Obi and Guarin all stay we finally have athleticism, youth and depth all for the price of Poli and Guarin which should be in the ~20 million € range.
Coutinho comes home to find that Inter finally have a position awaiting him. Sneijder will be injured often – or sold and Alvarez looks to be a little fragile as well. By all accounts Coutinho had a wonderful loan spell in Spain and will be a much more European player when he gets back.
Jonathan is due back from loan at Parma where he had a positive experience getting game time and becoming acclimated to the European game. Strama was determined to get him back for the Indonesian friendlies and next season. I think Jonathan wil get a lot of time on the field between league, coppa and Europa League games to keep Maicon fresh, if Maicon's still on the team at this point.
Caldirola is also due back from his loan spell in Serie B with Brescia. The word is that he also had a very positive time there. There have been rumors that he’s to be inserted in the Lavezzi deal or that he’s going to be pushing for more playing time at Inter with Ranocchia, Juan and Samuel. Only time can tell at this point.
As with the departures, I can say with full certainty that there will be more additions in the coming months. I am not going to chase down every transfer rumor – half of them are completely made up anyway. But I do know that there is strong interest from the team in certain players. When they become a part of this team, I’ll be sure to put it up here.
Front Office Changes
Almost as important as player changes are the changes in the front office. Last winter/spring Inter scored a coup of sorts in pinning down Valentino Angeloni, formerly of Udinese, as the new head of the scouting network for the senior squad – Inter have a different department for scouts of the youth teams headed by Pierluigi Casiraghi.
Angeloni has worked at Udinese for the last 4 seasons and I think everyone has an appreciation of how well that teams scouts have been run. I hope he has similar success here.
With the hire of Stramaccioni, Inter have promoted Gianfranco Bedin as a technical advisor to the new coach. On the Inter organizational chart the coach is part of the “Area Tecnica”. The Area Tecnica is basically the domain of the Director of Sport – Piero Ausilio – and the Technical Director – Marco Branca.
Bedin becomes the guy helping Strama on the field and meeting with middle management so that everyone is on the same page, vital information is shared and the needs of the team are met – by everyone.
Bedin’s name should be familiar to those who revere the Grande Inter team of the ‘60s as he was on the field as a midfielder when Inter won its second Champions League/European Cup. Bedin played with Inter for around a decade and has over 200 league games under his belt.
This summer there is heavy rumor that Inter are going strengthen the middle of the corporate tree. Leonardo’s name has been tossed around as a director of some sort and it’s clear that Leonardo has his uses regarding his contacts in Europe and South America. Also the name of Marco Fassone, currently a director at Napoli has been bandied about. I don’t know a lot about Marco other than he’s highly regarded.
Inter will be embarking on a 2 game Indonesian Tour later this month. The first game will be May 24th 14:00 CET and the second game will be on May 26th 14:30 CET. The purpose of these friendlies is twofold.
First Fold: The team needs to make money with exhibition games that it won't get from the Champions League this season. Game One of the tour will be a match against the Indonesian U23 team and the best from the local leagues. Game Two will be against the national team. Inter hope to collect 2-3 million for these two games.
Second Fold: The team is looking to expand its marketing and investment opportunities in a relatively untapped environment. Regulars to this site from the area know more about it than I do, I am sure, but I would think that Indonesia is a marketplace waiting for a team/league to make an effort to reach them. In addition, Moratti is looking for someone else to invest into the club to cover some costs. Moratti has been vocal about being able to leave the management of the club to his children, but a minority partner to inject some cash - say, towards a new stadium? - would be welcome, I bet.
As promised this week I have figured out how to make a poll – it wasn’t hard at all, assuming I did it right – and put it in the season ending article. If you were to scroll to the end of what is turning into a monstrous article you can cast your vote for the Inter player you think was the best of the bunch. I didn’t put in every player and I didn’t get a whole lot of suggestions either so I just went with who I thought were likely candidates. The poll will be open for only a few days so get your vote in now.
A Personal Note
The end of this season concludes 3 full years of “writing” (Spewing? Randomly striking keys and hoping for the best?) articles for Inter.theoffside.com. When I began visiting this space I never thought that I would end up writing some stuff for the joint. Moreover, I never thought that anyone would read them once I did. Frankly, I expected that you all would come after me with pitchforks and torches before too long when I first started, but I am thankful and a little humbled to be - as yet - untorched and unpitchforked.
I don’t know what’s going to happen to this space this summer. My gut feeling – pure speculation – is that SB Nation will either let it wither or cut it’s upkeep from their list of expenses. I have absolutely no knowledge of plans for an SB Nation version of this site, nor would I, really. They would be going through Johonna if they planned anything.
Either way, in case anything happens sooner rather than later I wanted to be sure I told everyone how appreciative I am that they let me be a part of their passion for Inter in what little way that I am. I love reading the comments section of this space and I think you guys are great. I have really enjoyd myself at all the LiveBLogs I have been a part of and that is a direct result of being able to talk and BS with you guys instantly while doing something that I love to do, watch this team.
I want to make sure that I wrote how much I have come to be thankful to Johonna for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this blog – even though I thought she was completely nuts at the time. I was interested to be sure, but very worried about her judgment. As it was, she helped me get my feet wet doing something I had never contemplated doing previously but that nowadays, I feel a wrongness if I haven’t written an overlong diatribe about some very fit millionaires who have no idea I exist in a country tens of thousands of miles away speaking a/several different language/s than my own native one.
Lastly, but not least to be sure, I wanted take the opportunity to tell Kirby how much I enjoy this ride with him. We came to this space at about the same time, if I am not too mistaken. I’ve had a million conversations with him on just about every topic under the sun – all digitally – and we disagree frequently, especially opinions on Inter players. But I have a blast and not knowing what tomorrow brings, I wanted to make sure he knows it. Plus, he runs the best LiveBlog in the universe and that deserves notice. I will be attempting to learn how to properly play FIFA this summer and I hope I can pick his brain on how to do that – just in time for them to put out a new version, I am sure. So in case you were wondering, yes, all this flattery is a means to an end. :)
Okay, that went on too long as per usual for me. I’ll just end this thing here and say that I still plan to write stuff for this space and I expect it to be available. But just in case, well, you know.