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Tuesday Update

Opinion, News and Idle Thoughts Rants


First things first. What happened in Boston yesterday was a terrible thing and I hope that the people responsible are brought to justice. Before I became a parent, these things never hit me this hard. Now, when I hear about the small child that was killed in the blast and several more seriously injured, it makes me crazy. If any discoveries were made in the last 8 hours or so I haven’t heard or read it, and I don’t necessarily want to make this the official terror blog of FC Inter Milano, but I just had to write something that expressed my outrage. If you are so inclined, I am sure thoughts and prayers would be appreciated by those still in danger, those fighting for their lives or those who are trying to make some kind of sense out of their new reality.

On to the football stuff.
* I didn’t see the game this weekend as my life got in the way. I heard that it was a lot like the last game Inter played – Inter played well and made some chances in the first half. There seemed to be penalty shouts for both sides. They got a penalty that wasn’t actually there – as opposed to the one they should have gotten. The team fell apart after that.

Is there any reason that games with Inter in shouldn’t have those high dive judges in it?

“Look Carl, there was no actual contact but the degree of difficulty of having to make it look like there was some contact, minus the relatively low IQ of the referee makes this a 8.7!”

“You’re right George, the chronic low IQ and morality scores of the referees in this league makes them far too eager to give penalties. One idly wonders how these relatively third rate divers would do in another European league or even against another team for that matter…”

* Last week there was a guy by the name of Marcello Nicchi – he’s the president of the referee’s association, I bet you already know what I think of him - who basically said, and I am paraphrasing here, that if someone (Moratti) doesn’t believe in the honesty of the referees then they shouldn’t play the game. It’s a nice little saying, but a little too obscure for me. A much better known aphorism is, and I am paraphrasing here, bad workers should go away. These refs are at least terrible at their job and at worst bent like a bicycle rim after appearing on The Explosion Show of Mythbusters. Either way, recycling them is moronic. Tags was terrible 3 years ago, last year and this year. Giving him a suspension and then expecting him to be a better ref when he comes back is, to put it politely, unrealistic.

There are 17 freaking laws of the game these fatuous mouth breathers have to somehow remember and implement. 17. That’s it. If these men were your doctors you would be a goner. I also like to watch NFL football in the fall. Those guys have about the same number of officials on the field nowadays as they have in Serie A and a list of rules like the New York City/Yonkers metro phone book but yet I get a greater sense of fairness from the NFL guys. Maybe it’s the league as a whole that seems less likely to be corrupt – I mean within the game. Outside the game there’s tax evasion, weird politics, shady stadium deals, anti-trust violations, etc, etc.

When the game is being played, the officials will even hash it out right there. If they get the wrong call, the announcers call up the ref office for the league right then and get an explanation. And the guy sometimes says, “I don’t know what they’re thinking!” And the refs talk to the coaches about the call. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t hold up the game too much – it’s the commercials that do that – but there is some attempt at transparency. Mistakes happen every game like they do in Inter games but the response from the crowd is that refs are stupid or incompetent not that refs are bent. And frankly, I agree. I don’t think that NFL refs are bent. I wouldn’t be so quick to say the same thing about Italian refs. Not with certainty.

And maybe, just maybe, Nicchi should just shut the hell up and get his guys to at least try to fool people into thinking that his guys are competent. Moratti has a trophy with big ears in his cabinet to prove that he made a right decision or two. Nicchi has suspended refs and the ire of a bunch of teams. Way to show'em who's boss, dum-dum.

*At the end of last season I was rooting against this team making Europa. I am doing it again this season. Although that means that I have to root against this team winning the Coppa Italia and that makes me confused. I don’t think that I will worry about it until it absolutely becomes an issue.

* By now I am betting that everyone has heard about the Russian Oil partnership with Saras that will net the Moratti clan hundreds of millions of Euros in the next 5 years or so. Hopefully it’s also completely understood that this is a separate business from Inter. The only way that this affects Inter is if it paves the way for Moratti to get money from an outside source to invest in a stadium. I would guarantee that none of that money sees its way to Inter’s transfer or wage bills. There are people, who I have no idea how trustworthy their punditry is, who suggest that Moratti’s quest for investment partnership in Inter will bear fruit this summer. The Mythical Chinese investor of last summer notwithstanding, Inter have hired an investment bank to help them.

But the news of the Saras deal and its effect on Moratti can’t be overstated. Between Saras and Inter Moratti was probably stressed emotionally and financially for he last few years. History suggests that Saras pays for Inter. I think Moratti is of the opinion that it’s time for Inter to pay for Inter. Consider that there have been enough changes so far that Inter youth sector is already paying for itself.

Juventus has a stadium and is making quite a lot of money compared to the rest of Italy because of it. But it’s still a lot less what their opponent last week from Germany makes from their stadium. The Juventus Stadium project is something that everyone in Italy is watching and learning from. Something that people are learning – there’s more exploitation in a stadium than what’s happening in Torino and Bayern is the model to follow.

* Speaking of Inter’s wage bill, there are new, updated forecasts regarding how much in the hole Inter is likely to be. The earliest forecasts I have seen have everything the same cost except the sales and purchases of players. The latest forecasts have the changes in corporate structure included and the news is better if still not great. They have Inter somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-55 in the red. Still too much? Perhaps. Better and trending in the correct direction? Absolutely. If investors can be found, if the Champions League vacation ends relatively soon, if income can be stabilized or grown, if salaries can be further pared down and most importantly if a stadium can be made – which includes a nullification of millions in rent to the Meazza built into the deal – there are a lot of avenues that are open for huge, healthy, sustainable growth right now that didn’t exist 3 years ago. If.

* On to player news. Nagatomo and Gargano were apparently included to the injury listing last game. There is news that Alvarez and Juan are being held out of practice for precautions. Frankly there are too many injuries to count. There is blame to go around, but there is one that I will not be backed down from – this team isn’t good enough. Like a dog with a bone I will worry this topic until it’s fixed. This team isn’t good enough for three competitions. It’s a month more playing than what the training staff is perhaps preparing the players for, and there aren’t enough good players to rotate. The players are being overused.

When the coach doesn’t have confidence in enough players to do the job - and there is no better indication for me that Strama is at least a decent coach than the fact that there only a limited number of players on the roster that he trusts – then there are problems.
And we are paying that price right now no matter who you want to blame. The state of affairs for this season is that we don’t have those pieces of depth. You can see that the team is trying, belatedly I might add, to throw some stuff against the wall for next year. But the truth of the matter is that at this point, it needed to be more surgical strikes, less pasta throwing. Again this is hindsight and you can claim that I am trying to use that knowledge to make a false point.

But I don’t agree with that idea. Last summer we knew that the midfield was a problem area. We knew we would have had to make some experiments to see what was what.

In November there was the idea that we could challenge for something, or take a shortcut to the Champions League and that was where all that grooming and experimenting kind of stopped and the team reverted to the old standbys that haven’t been working for 2 going on 3 years.

And this is an old argument of mine. Think of learning like a scaffold you paint on. You teach the behavior and the learner increases knowledge like going up a ladder. Each platform becomes a level of competence that the learner has achieved. The learning player is encouraged not to rest at the platform but to surpass it, step by step until the player becomes confident of his successes and has experience to lean on and learn from as he attempts to achieve more and more levels. What you don’t do, is throw the player into the air and hope he lands on the top platform, which is what has happened with the youth of this team. It went from learning to OMYGOSH WE CAN WIN NOW, GO GO GO GO! And it’s not just the team, but the fans too, so I don't want to hear any Strama this or Branca that nonsense. There's plenty of blame to be passed around, thanks very much.

And then we wonder why players like Benassi haven’t been playing. Cambiasso has maybe 10 good games in him every season at this point. By the time you reach the amount of money that Cambiasso will make next season, you could pay Benassi for almost the next decade. Can't you bet that Benassi will be worth 10 good games in 10 years?

Remember we were talking about financial stability for this team? If Milito, Cambiasso, Samuel, Chivu and Deki were to voluntarily leave this team without a golden handshake, we are probably talking around 25 - 30 million less on the wage bill. Go ahead and scan up to see where that would leave us, team income-wise. Think about how many players we could get with that.

This has turned into more rant than update, but I've got some emotion to work through today because of the Boston thing and the continuing frustration of just wishing the team would become decisive enough to pick a direction and move directly their goal instead of trying to hedge bets and cover every base. This season would be more palatable for me personally if I felt that there was preparation for a better future instead of a death grip on the past. Tomorrow, I’ll hopefully be calm back with a preview.