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Banner Me This?


Inter supporters staged perhaps the most civil protest that has ever happened in any football stadium in Europe, uniquely contrasted with what was going on in a competitor’s stadium not very far away…

In a weird scene that hearkened back to the spirit of The 12 Tables of the Roman Republic and the struggle of plebes against the old aristocracy of the defunct monarchy, the mob demanded answers of those privileged with the responsibility to guide not the infant republic, but the team.

I had a bit of a problem in how to address these questions. Most people, as I saw it, just reported the news – There were 12 questions made of Moratti by the curva and here they are… - and that’s fine. I am less reporter than opinionated loud-mouth/curmudgeon however. I would rather discuss the questions either singly or a group at a time as it comes to me. Big thanks to from whom I am stealing some translations of the questions as I am of course working against the clock.

Questions 1, 8, 10

1. Why do you think that the crowd applauded the curvas recent banners on the club?

8. Why was the real reason Orilai left the club leadership never explained?

10. How could you let the second shirt be red if you support this team?

True to the nature of these things, some of the questions were just self-righteous folderol. Restated: we are cool, we are real fans, aren’t you?

When supporters criticize a team, any team, there is often the problem of what the ending expectations are. The team’s goals are often more complex than the fan’s goals. What seems moronically simple or obvious to the fan or media pundit is often much more complex behind closed doors. I, as a fan, just want the team to win. The team wants to win as well, but with conditions attached that may veer the decision making. So, having said that, it’s no surprise that the stadium crowd cheers for the curva’s banners – they are approaching and seeing the problems in exactly the same way – we just want to win.

But the team is trying to do it on the cheap, or with players who will play a certain way, or minus certain agents. And if they don’t hit on the only result that the fan cares about then there is the problem. The team has managed to accomplish quite a lot of its internal checklist, excepting the only one that they share with the fans.

But that happens in sports, parenting, politics and health care to name just a few instances. These questions could be relabeled – We Need to Grow Up.

But in my opinion these are the least important questions that were asked on Wednesday. I don’t care if the curva hang popular banners, frankly I think that they are at times worse than the pundits. I don’t care what color shirt the second shirt is as long as the first one is black and blue stripes. And I don’t hold it against the company that Oriali is gone. The curva could just as well hang a banner that said that Oriali hasn’t spoken about the separation, either. Internal politics is internal for a reason; nothing the crowd does could possibly make any difference at this point. And having Oriali around wouldn't have changed a darn thing.

Questions 2, 5, 9, 12

2. Why is the same medical team we had when we won The Triple being questioned?

5. 2010-2013 From the top of the world, the club plummeted to the current situation. Considering the example of other European clubs, do you believe the cause is due to all the coaches and players in this era?

9. Haven't you realized that everyone thinks of themselves and their own chair?

12. How is it that those who leave Inter speak well of you but not the club?

These questions, to my mind, are the only ones that really relate to Moratti. And they do a good job to bring out into the open problems he has as a leader.

While every coaching staff has to go to war in some sense with the medical staff that they have to deal with, question 2 really has to do with scapegoating. Really this should be question 2A and asked after question 5. If the medical team and the training staff were able to hold the vets together with duck tape and bailing wire for the wringer that Mourinho put them through, then they should be good enough for Strama. And to a certain extent I agree. Every team in Serie A had a rash of injuries, although ours is a pretty bad one, currently. While I think that the lack of health exonerates Strama, I don’t necessarily think that it hangs the medical/training staff. But it does expose those who were in charge of preparing and reinforcing the team – which is the point of the banner to begin with.

Question 5 could very well have been labeled 2 and put after question 1. The problem with Inter was never Sneijder. It was the guy who gave Sneijder all that money to sign with the club, knowing that there was going to have to be a show down over salaries soon. Or the guy who gave Stankovic, already in his 30s, a long term deal at the top of the wage scale instead of shipping him out when he contract would have run out initially – making space for someone new years ago.

I don't know how much stock I put into question 9, but there definitely is a sense that the guillotine blade is raised. The perception is that Moratti is more an emotional guy than a rational one. I don't know the man so I can't comment on his actual personality. But when things go bad he usually reacts, rather than thinks. Sometimes that's good, sometimes it's bad. But the perception is that those who need to be taken to task aren't as chronic problems persist despite player and coaching changes. And since there isn't a whole lot of communication on internal affairs - see also Oriali - the fans are left to make up their own minds.Personally, I think that most people are trying to do a good job.

Question 12 tells of something that we on this board often talked about before Mourinho came to town, Moratti finding a pet player and always siding with him against the coach. The players love Moratti because he will, if he’s a fan of theirs, give them the sky and moon, but everyone else had to be the bad guy. Mourinho was a genius at getting the players on his side instead of having them run to Moratti. On the other end of the spectrum, Benitez had the charisma of an infectious disease. But I think that Moratti made Rafa’s job tougher being a mark for the players. It’s a sign of bad leadership that he couldn’t alter his behavior to help the club along even with someone like Benitez.

Questions 6,7

6. How is it that the club is always passive in relation to each attack of the media?

7. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to have a strong man in the leadership in order to convey the feeling of belonging, handle all club business, and show his face in defense of the club?

This is just leadership and has been a common complaint of mine all season long. Mourinho gave the media a strong talking to and put them in their place. Since he left there has not been that ability to take on the reporters and beat them into submission. Moratti has been unwilling to go to the mattresses with the fourth estate, even though they need the kick in the pants.

The idea of a “strong man” is something of a straw man. The supporters really want another Facchetti, someone to rally around that exudes leadership. Facchetti, rightly or wrongly, when he perceived problems with the refs went to the designators or the media to complain. His character was unimpeachable and he was always taken seriously. Even after his death, when there was a smear campaign against him, his contemporaries and the media defended him and his actions. The top floor offices of La Gazzetta’s stood up for him during this time, even after an at times prickly relationship with Facchetti, and said that talking to the ref designators – while not illegal - wasn’t very ethical, but you just knew he wasn’t doing the more evil things that Moggi and others were doing. You had to respect what Facchetti said. He made you respect him if there were the slightest thoughts of disregarding his words. And his leadership inside the closed door meeting rooms has been very obviously missing.

Questions 3, 4

3. Why does the project to rejuvenate the team entail the sales of the young players already on the team or from the Primavera?

4. What’s the point of always selling our players?

To me, these are the same question and really they are closely related to the first batch – the fans want to win now and the management has many more fish to fry. According to the fans, how could Inter sell Destro, and in retrospect they are absolutely correct. But at the time, who knew if Destro was going to be anything? Actually, we still don’t know. But there is a promise there that Inter probably miscalculated on. Bonucci was another one. While you will never convince me that Bonucci is a legend in the making, he’s serviceable and he was probably someone that we could have used. But he was sent to Genoa for Motta and if you asked me at the time, I would have okayed the deal. If you ask me today, I probably would still have okayed the deal. The problem is that these players were sent away so young that it was acceptable to send their who-knew-how-talented body for short term winning. And now that the chickens are coming home to roost, the fans want that too. Well, that’s part of being a grown up. The decision was made to win then, so the price you pay is talent now. You can’t have it both ways. Next time, the team needs to have a better idea on what they are giving up so that maybe a better solution could have been found. That would have been a banner I could have gotten behind.