A week on from Frank de Boer's dismissal at Inter, the Dutch coach's agent Guido Albers has broken the silence in the camp by giving an interview to FcInter1908. Below you can read his take on what Frank's main objectives were when he came to Inter, what his relationship with the players was like and why ultimately it all went wrong so quickly. Whatever you made of his abilities as a coach, you couldn't help but admire the dignity with which he acted and spoke during his very brief tenure in charge, and that same dignity is demonstrated through Albers's words here.
How did De Boer take the sacking?
"He'd started a project and was stopped right in the middle of that project, after just 9 weeks. It's obvious that he didn't take it well, because if you start something you expect to go forward together, to work as a group. You need time to change things, everyone knows that a transition from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 will require some time. Inter are a top club, which is why Frank accepted the chance to work there, but it's impossible to complete a transition of this kind in just 9 weeks, it's simply impossible. One of his main objectives, and it was clear right from the beginning, was to change the style of play of the team. It was one of Inter's main objectives too. One of the other objectives meanwhile was to find players who had Inter's DNA, players proud to play for Inter and work hard for Inter; players who deserved to wear the Inter shirt every day in training. Another objective was to finish third in the league to return to the Champions League, and then another was to promote the most important players from the Primavera up into the first team.
These are typical targets for Frank, he's got these things in his blood. They weren't easy targets for sure but the hardest part was to get the team to play in a different manner, to train in a different manner. You need time for this, you can see it with Liverpool for instance. To change you need time - but these were also objectives stipulated by the club."
When was he informed of his dismissal?
"It was on Tuesday, after the defeat against Sampdoria."
What did he say to the team after being told?
"Frank is an honest person, crystal clear and transparent. To the group he simply said 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry to not be able to finish my work here. I have to go.' It was difficult for him to change the mentality of the group, right from the beginning. It's difficult to create a group when you have 29 players, no club in Europe has 29 players. You can't train in the right way; every time there were five or six disappointed players because they weren't playing, but you have to deserve to play, if you don't work on the training ground you can't demand to play. You can only play for Inter, and a De Boer team, if you work hard on the training ground. De Boer never spoke about De Boer though; he only ever spoke about Inter."
What did you make of the press' attitude towards Frank?
"The press? They were never a problem, the media have to write and do their jobs. Frank was never concerned about the press' attitude towards him, not least because in the end things went exactly as they'd said they would."
Have you seen the banners made for him by the Inter fans?
"The Inter fans have been sensational with him, right from the beginning. If you wanted I could show you what must be about 500 letters from Inter fans to Frank, what they did for him was marvelous. There are letters from 20-25 year-old fans who finally realized that something was changing. Of course there were problems, I saw the games - they played well, then they lost the ball and immediately they conceded a goal. They needed to work, look at Liverpool - last year they were seventh and now they're top of the Premier League. It's called a project, and for that you need time."
What has Frank got lined up next now?
"I don't know, he's very disappointed for how it ended. He didn't deserve this ending, he worked really hard to change the way in which the players worked. You need to work hard, to train hard, to try and improve yourself day after day, but not all of the group was doing that."
Was he too severe with the players?
"He had to do something, he had to do something. You're a professional footballer, your working day starts at 9:45. Come on, it's incredible. Of course he hard a hard impact, you're a professional footballer and you have to stay fully concentrated on your club. The group had the desire to change, there really was the desire to change the culture of work, but a few of them didn't. A few of the players didn't have that intention, and this makes things all the more difficult. If there's a negative atmosphere within the group, always long faces... it's hard to work well. Frank had the idea of working with a set number of players and then adding a few youngsters to that, because if you're young you're more likely to accept not playing. If you're at an international club and you have 29 established players then some of them are not going to accept that. If you look at Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool, there are always three or four young players in the first team who bring a new energy to the place and make the coach's life easier, but he didn't have the chance to work with a group like this because practically all the players remained in the summer."
What's the atmosphere like at Inter?
"The atmosphere at Inter is fantastic, all the people who work at Inter are fantastic, from the club staff to those who work at Appiano. But you need to believe in a project. Frank nevertheless wishes to thank the fans, because they've been fabulous with all their letters and banners of support."
I'm sorry, Frank. You made a lot of your own mistakes which suggested this project would always have been unlikely to succeed, but you didn't deserve the treatment you got both from the club and the Italian media (because Albers is wrong; the media's treatment of him was a total and utter disgrace). Wherever you go next in your career you can be sure that the entire Inter fan base will be behind you, because they appreciate the values you tried to instill in our club. I hope you find a club somewhere that will enable you to work serenely and successfully, because you would deserve it for the way you conducted yourself during your time at Inter. Someone will appreciate you more than this club ever did.