The reason I've been feeling so pessimistic about Inter over the past fortnight is the sheer amount of change that needs to occur at this club before we can have even the tiniest ambition of returning to the top of Italian football (let alone European football). The history of this sport offers us countless demonstrations of the fact that if you aren't organised and successful off the pitch then you cannot be organised and successful on it - at least not for a sustained period of time - and in this moment in time Inter are as organised as a teenager's bedroom that's just had a bomb detonated inside it. If we want to get back to being the Inter that wins things and is taken seriously by the rest of the world, we need to get our house in order at club level first. Desperately.
And that's why Monday's news has restored me with the teeniest bit of optimism for what's to come under new owners Suning. The news is that Michael Bolingbroke has resigned from his position as Chief Executive Officer and will leave the club with immediate effect, as announced in an official statement released during the afternoon. The 51 year-old joined Inter in July 2014 following Erick Thohir's protracted takeover of the club, having left his post as Manchester United's Chief Operating Officer shortly beforehand, but just over two years later he has decided to move on again and search for pastures new.
Well, at least we're told it was his decision to leave. Officially it has been presented that way. But what's more likely is that Suning told him in no uncertain terms that they wanted him to leave, because he's done virtually nothing for Inter during his tenure here (despite picking up a very large salary along the way) and isn't their man, adding up to ensure he is of next to no use going forward. The club statement has depicted this as an unprompted departure, passive-aggressively telling us that the Board of Directors have 'accepted his resignation', but in reality Bolingbroke had already overstayed his welcome at Inter and neither party would have gained anything from pretending otherwise. Either he's jumped before he was pushed, or he was pushed and we've been told that he jumped.
Replacing Bolingbroke on an interim basis will be Mr Jun Liu, Vice President of Suning Sports Group, who will 'take over day-to-day running of the club and will be based at Inter's head office in Milan', while the club ponders over who to put in that position on a permanent basis. It's the next part of the statement however which is probably the most relevant: 'the club believes that the arrival of Mr Liu during this period will allow for a clearer and quicker decision-making process by establishing a direct link to the club's majority shareholder Suning. A key part of Mr Liu's role will be to act as a bridge between Suning and Inter, thus providing direct access to Suning's vast corporate support network. After an initial phase of observation and understanding, the appointment of Mr Liu demonstrates a more direct involvement by Suning in Inter's management.'
EUREKA! Did you hear that? No more Erick Thohir interfering with matters he has absolutely no understanding of - as demonstrated by the earth-shatteringly stupid decision to get rid of your coach a fortnight before the start of the season and replace him with someone who's never ever worked in Italy before, because 'oh, well I saw him looking smart on the touchline once and he's good with young players' - and no more management of the club from afar, a strategy which would reveal itself to be unworkable in pretty much any organisation in the world. Essentially, Suning have put their foot down after watching their predecessors make a cataclysmic mess of the last six months, and are now putting their own men in charge to make sure such a mess doesn't happen again. Bolingbroke was unmistakably one of Thohir's right-hand men, and with Thohir becoming ever more marginalized within the club as he waits to definitively sell up, there was no reason to keep him.
This is good news, if you ask me. It doesn't mean we'll win the derby 5-0 in a fortnight but it's a very small first step towards a brighter future; our club now has a slightly clearer structure to it, and it's these changes that sooner or later will guarantee more sporting success. Thanks for the memories, Michael.