May 29, 2011. That's the last time the Inter senior squad lifted a trophy during the regular season. It was a Coppa Italia victory over Palermo won by goals from Samuel Eto'o and Diego Milito. In the five years since then Inter have had a shot at 13 major trophies (5 Serie A, 5 Coppa Italia, 1 Champions League, and 2 Europa League competitions). In Serie A the Nerazzurri have finished in 6th, 9th, 5th, 8th, and 4th. The Coppa Italia has seen Inter go out in the quarterfinals, semifinals, round of 16, quarterfinals, and semifinals again. Inter bowed out of their sole Champions League appearance during that time in the round of 16, and both Europa League appearances ended at that same stage.
So with this season coming to a close it has now been five years since a new trophy was added to the Inter collection. While there have been longer trophy droughts in the past, Erick Thohir took over as president promising to return the club to the elite status that it used to have and elite clubs usually don't go so long without winning anything. Despite this fact, Thohir has been looking to restore the club through different means.
This leads us to the topic of our first "Priorities" series, returning to the Champions League vs. ending the trophy drought. Thohir, Javier Zanetti, Piero Ausilio, and Roberto Mancini have all talked about how the goal of Inter this season was returning to the top three spots in Serie A and thus the Champions League, and I'm fairly confident that will be the goal once again next season. It makes sense too; returning to Europe's premier competition would allow Inter to get more exposure to potential new fans, increase the club's reputation when trying to recruit players, and help increase revenue. The Champions League is where the big boys play and what better way to prove you're one of them than sitting at the same table as them?
There are definite benefits to ending the trophy drought. For one, winning a trophy would provide the players with confidence and a hunger for further success. Once players taste victory they will be eager to win more, and this is a side that does not have many players that have won trophies in the recent past. Lifting some silverware would also help raise Inter's profile both to new fans and incoming players. Without some type of prior connection to a club fans usually want to support a team that is going to win some trophies, and it takes a lot less to convince a player to sign for a club if they can say that they are a club that regularly competes for trophies. In the same manner winning the Coppa Italia or Europa League next season would also help convince some of the Inter players that are looking towards the door to stick around for a little while longer.
Now I'm not saying that the club should forget about returning to the Champions League and focus on cup competitions, just that maybe Mancini should treat cup competitions more seriously next season (for instance by playing Handanovic rather than Carrizo). Plus, winning the Europa League provides automatic entry to the Champions League for the following season. That sounds like the perfect way to make everybody happy.
So what do you think? Respond to the poll and sound off in the comment section.