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Inter 3 – Bologna 2

In what can only be describe as a chaotic fixture – on all counts – home side Inter win in frustrating – again, on all counts – fashion. This win secures qualification into the “Final Four” of the Coppa Italia in which Inter will play Roma - who will have their own issues to deal with in this tie.


And if this game had a name, “Frustrating” would be it for me as I found this game irksome on many levels.

Let’s begin with the starting lineup. Benassi is there – good. Considering his fine play against Pescara it was worth a look to see if he could handle a club that had more… substance, I think is a good word. Bologna is a solid club from top to bottom and if Benassi could play against these guys then he could play with most of Serie A in my opinion. I thought that he looked like he had a harder time against Bologna than he did against Pescara. But all in all I thought he did a credible job.

So I wasn’t frustrated to see the youngster in the lineup. I was frustrated to see Zanetti in the lineup as a midfielder and Jonathan as a fullback. It really bothers me that Javier is playing in a Coppa Italia game at all, let alone as a midfielder – I do not think he gives us what we need in this position. Never speedy, he can’t go up and down the field with the action and he’s just not a passer. The midfield suffers with his inclusion there. I think that it’s pretty telling that his best gift to the game was as a wide player making big runs. And keep in mind that I don’t think that he had a bad game, I just think that Inter has enough trouble keeping possession and making the buildup phase without having a player out of position on the field just so he can be included somewhere.

And Jonathan is just horrific. I couldn't tell you what he was doing where he was beaten to the far post for the goal. I will tell you this, in my experience there are times - when to cover for poor effort - players will throw themselves on to the turf to show how much they are giving, but were just “beaten on that particular play”. However when looking back, you see that the player wouldn't have had to give that false “last ditch effort” if they had been paying attention to their zone or if they already had their feet moving and staying sharp. There is not one game that I can say, “He is developing/settling in/becoming one with the team/at a level of the team”. His inclusion in any game is a waste of space and it’s been obvious for a while. Like last year while. I know that the team is after Schelotto and yes, I do think that he’s a better player than Jonathan. But I don’t know if Schelotto makes that play either.

So both of those moves bother me right from the start, but neither bothers me as much as starting Rocchi in this game with Cassano up top. Again, I don’t have an issue with his play in this game per se; I just don’t understand how he could be playing in this game at all. Like Zanetti, I am under the belief that his playing time should be decreased, not increased. But the bottom line is that I am not convinced that his inclusion in the squad is going to produce anything. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that his presence will hurt; it’s just that were he to score, I would be surprised. So his inclusion doesn’t really stir my drink.

Does this mean I think all would be well if Strama played Livaja or Coutinho? Not necessarily, but this is an opportunity for them that’s just wasted. It’s not like they are tired from all the time they are getting on the field, you know?

I am going to “pause” this review for a moment to clarify something. I do believe that in general the team is going to meet their goals of putting together a competitive team and stay within the confines of FFP. And up to and including the Sneijder bit, I don’t have any issue with the personnel changes – or the method used to make them as contracts are dishonored every day by management and players alike. No one can accuse this team of money grabbing the way Moratti has spent since he came here and players crap on the fans and their teams all the time – you can’t blame either side as it’s the price of doing business in something that isn’t really so much a business as a weird non-profit/civic charity deal. The team is getting much younger – even if it’s not completely evident on the field always. The dead money that this team used to waste is whittled down to almost zero from the days of Muntari, Suazo, Mancini, Quaresma and Rivas eating up 2 to 3 million each and playing a collective 0 minutes. The bench is loaded with players that have some promise in the future as a productive if not spectacular member of the team. Strama is getting time to coach free from the President breathing down his neck and he’s even getting some protection from the President from the media. So as much as I am griping away at this game and all its little annoying peccadilloes, I am trying to keep the big picture positives right around my forebrain.

Having said all that, when I saw the starting group, I had to take a big, deep breath and refrain from all the Old Testament gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes that I so very much felt like doing.

And then there is the referee frustration. The first score for Bologna came off a free kick that was the result of a fabricated call, according to one of the sport dailies. Okay, but then Pereira got hit on his broken nose by Motta twice – to no whistle at all. Not only is that not fair, but what kind of plan to control the game is that? How are players supposed to know how to play in a game if the ref isn't consistent? And really, that’s what gets to me. If Pereira, who was in possession of the ball, touches Diamanti – a player I really enjoy watching – and the Bologna player got a free kick, then Motta should have been cautioned, at least, for smacking him in the face twice. If refs don’t want to get pressure from supporters or coaches or players for every call, showing consistency would be a great way to prove how honest you are. It’s the inconsistency that makes refs target. If they refuse to be consistent, like Banti, last night, then they deserve all the crap they get.

And here’s the biggest frustration on the night; the game was dedicated to a former coach of both Inter and Bologna named Arpad Weisz and it showed just how beautiful this game can be. In a great example of this club, which preaches brotherhood and blending of football from other countries with the Italian game Arpad, a Hungarian Jew, coached Inter and Italy legend Giuseppe Meazza when the player was a prospect and Bologna in the early to mid 30s. I don’t usually detail a coach’s religion except that in Europe at that time there was an issue that ultimately cost Arpad his family and his own life. Both clubs were able to put aside competitiveness and usual Italian pragmaticism and take the time to remember an important, once forgotten, shared, and yet tragic figure. It just seems like good stuff like this, belated though it is, doesn’t happen often enough.

So moving on from my frustration with the team let’s move to what I really enjoyed seeing – Ranocchia playing again. It was great. Last season was such a mess on so many levels, but the real crime was that somewhere someone lost sight of this young kid’s age and development. This season has been another story altogether, and if nothing else comes to us after 38 rounds, it’s that Ranocchia has arrived. Yep, even if there’s nothing to gain for us when it’s May, there will be that Ranocchia is there.

Palacio continued to look good yesterday which was nice because Rocchi didn't do a damn thing. Palacio continued to show his good movement, his willingness to set other people up and most of all for a forward… he showed that he could score. How about that? There is a forward who can score in more than one game at a time. It’s extremely possible that there was just a hint of sarcasm in that sentence.

That’s really all I got for the game. The substitutions were not surprising, although I would have really liked to be surprised. But the Mudingayi sub was the smart move at 2-0. I thought Strama gave up on Benassi too quickly and leaving Cassano on for 120 probably KOed him for Roma.

Yesterday as I was filtering through all the transfer rumors and I was thinking just how likely anything was going to happen for us this January, and I thought that in a pinch I could live the team paving the way for this summer now, as in Compagnaro, and only making sales that would immediately affect us. Yeah, I could read the litany of what I think we need, but really I am of two minds between making overpriced bids to make deals happen quickly and making calm choices for reasonable prices in the summer. At this point, selling the majority of Ricky, Jonathan, Mariga and Wes would constitute to me as a rather good winter’s work. Selling those players that the team wants to sell and getting one or two guys at reasonable prices that I think the teams needs is, to mix my sports metaphors, a home run.