We already graded the Inter players for their performances this season but now the three of us are handing out our awards for the campaign. We had a lot of agreement but there were some categories we disagreed on. Comment below if you have any strong feelings one way or another about our decisions.
Baraka: While Inter's poll declared Marcelo Brozovic's goal against Udinese to be the goal of the season, I am going to beg to differ and pick Mauro Icardi's strike in the 2-0 win over Napoli in Serie A. There's just so much to love about this goal; the way he plucks the ball out of the air, how he calmly reacted to the fact that Pepe Reina was right in front of him, and especially the ice in his veins to just loft the ball over the keeper.
Luca: I loved Brozovic sweet curling shot against Udinese and Icardi's cheeky lob to beat Reina, they were both absolutely stupendous goals. But if I have to choose my favorite goal of the season, I'd say Murillo's effort to score the third goal against Frosinone in the 87th minute last November. The hustle by Jeison, Perisic's through ball and the genius backheel touch by JoJo are the three things which make this goal so special to my eyes. Textbook counter-attack, lovely finish. Also, all that happened just in the space of 9 seconds. Just brilliant.
Will: I find this really difficult, because to be honest there was no goal that I went crazy for this season. But something needs to be chosen, so let's go for Jovetic's opening day winner against Atalanta, because that was the goal that provoked the greatest visceral reaction inside me. He was allowed far too much space to take aim on the edge of the box, but that doesn't mean it was easy to find the corner from that position in the 93rd minute. It was a brilliant goal which sparked a manic team celebration on the touchline, but it's a bittersweet memory because his season only went downhill from then on. Other goals I'd like to give a mention to are Brozovic's goal against Napoli, Perisic's against Juve and Icardi's against Frosinone (away from home), as they were all technically very difficult.
Will: I don't think you can get past Handa's kung fu antics against Atalanta, although his save on Destro in the 95th minute was pretty special too. I've never seen a goalkeeper do what he did to stop that shot from Cigarini going in, and we may never see it again. It still doesn't make sense that that ball did not finish in the net. Mind-boggling.
Baraka: As much as I love that save on Cigarini, I have to go with the triple save against Roma (though I feel like it should be a quadruple save because of him stopping a Murillo own goal). While the Cigarini save was all about reactions and luck, this was all about sheer desire and commitment to stop Roma from scoring no matter what. The way he just swatted the ball away while still sitting on the ground showed that his heart was in this game, and I feel like that sequence sums up his performances throughout the season. (Honorable mention goes to Carrizo's double save against Juventus solely because I usually give him a lot of grief so it makes me happy to see him pull off something special every once in a while)
Luca:I don't think I've ever seen such an incredible save like the one Handa made against Atalanta on the Cigarini volley. I mean, wow. The athleticism, the reflex, everything about that save was absolutely amazing. Despite the stupendous save, Inter managed to draw that match 1-1, even though the opposition wasn't actually able to score. In fact, Murillo was the only person capable of accidentally putting the ball behind Handa's shoulder that day.
I want to take this space to make a public request to our goalkeeper. Please, Samir, stay. I know you want to play in the Champions League, I totally understand that. But please, we just gave you the best back-four in a very long time to simplify your job and help you keep our sheets clean. We will be back in the CL next season. I promise. Stay.
Best Match of the Season
Luca: The 3-0 win against Juventus in the second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinals. No doubts. Everyone thought we were dead but we proved them wrong with a solid and thrilling performance. Unfortunately, the penalty shootout loss ruined the party and the possibility of facing Milan in the final. The effort was truly remarkable and I was very proud of my team that evening, a feeling that I experienced just a few times in the past 4-5 seasons and I truly missed.
Will: The Juve game is the only possible answer for this isn't it? The win in the derby was great as well, and that one actually counted for points, but I still think I'd give the edge to the Juve game. The 1-0 win over Milan was a tight game which they were a little bit unfortunate to lose, whereas our performance that night in March was extraordinary. The surprise factor of that second leg is what I remember so vividly, because it arrived at the lowest moment of our season after the league defeat three days beforehand. No one on earth could have predicted we would play like that. It's just a shame we couldn't see the job through in the penalty shoot-out.
Baraka: I have to agree with Luca and Will for all the points listed above, but I'll submit as runner-up the 2-0 win over Napoli in Serie A. I pick this one partially because of that beautiful goal by Icardi, partially due to the ease of the win, and partially because it made our record against them 2-1 in all competitions (and really that one loss would've been a draw if it wasn't for the crossbar and some heroics from Pepe Reina). The reason this is important for me is because Napoli is objectively a better team than Inter, and have traditionally been seen as a bogey-team for Inter, especially at the Stadio Sao Paolo. This season might just have been the turning point in the rivalry...
Worst Match of the Season
Baraka: For me it's a toss-up between Fiorentina 4-1 Inter or Milan 3-0 Inter, they both sucked in their own ways. The Inter fans and players came into the Fiorentina match flying high on a 5 match winning streak and secretly dreaming that this might be their year. Then the team imploded in epic fashion as Miranda and Handanovic had truly awful performances and the team was thoroughly beaten. This brought the team crashing back to Earth and the team drew the next three matches in a row before righting the ship. The Derby Della Madonnina defeat was just one of those matches where everything that could go wrong, did go wrong. For that reason, I'm going to go against the trend and pick the Fiorentina match. We're better than AC Milan without a doubt, this was just a situation where the football gods decided to show us the middle finger. The team was already in a bad place after losing to Juventus 3-0 and that loss was just an extra kick while we were down. The Fiorentina match was a sucker punch, and for me the sheer unexpectedness of it and the horror show put on by the defense in that game makes it worse.
Luca: As Baraka said, there are a few matches to choose in what have been a season with many ups and downs. The 4-1 loss against Fiorentina was truly painful to watch but the back-to-back 3-0 defeats against Juventus and Milan weren't much better. Especially the latter, because it looked like we were the better team on the pitch despite the result. The crucial penalty missed by Icardi while down 1-0 was a real kick in the nuts for our players, who were psychologically demolished by that episode and conceded two easy goals to our cousins to close the game. I hated that loss also because I thought that Mancini made two huge mistakes: he left Icardi out from the Starting XI - he subbed in just in the 64th minute - and he started Santon, who spent the previous three months away from the field.
Will: I agree with Luca. The lowest I felt all season was definitely after the derby defeat, even if it was a pretty even match. I spent the next two hours lying on my friend's bedroom floor, just feeling completely deflated. I was making random conversation to try and distract myself but it was basically impossible to shut that game out. Losing 3-0 to one of the weakest Milan teams of all time... never again. At least I hope never again.
Most Improved Player (from last season)
Baraka: I guess Brozovic? Are there really any other options? Marcelo Brozovic really stepped up this season for the most part and showed Inter fans that he can be a solid midfielder for the club. His best work was playing in a 3 man midfield along with Medel and Kondogbia, though Mancini sometimes tried to stick him further up the pitch (central or on the right) in a 4231 formation and that had mixed results. With the impending arrival of Ever Banega it will be interesting to see where Mancini opts to play Brozovic but unless Banega is replacing the Croatian midfielder, "Epic Brozo" should be one of Mancini's untouchables.
Luca: This is a no-brainer. Marcelo Brozovic was the most improved player, despite the inconsistency. I expected a lot from him this season and more often than not, he delivered. I truly hope he won't leave this summer.
Will: Out of all the players who were also here last season, Brozovic is surely the most improved. At the risk of being laughed out of town, however, I would also like to give D'Ambrosio a mention, as he's been better than I expected him to be, but Brozo still takes top spot. As Luca says, consistency is his big flaw at the moment, so he'll have to work on that next year whether he's at Inter or another club.
Luca: Another no-brainer for me. Given the expectations he had when he was announced and the qualities he proved to have during his career, Jovetic was a true disappointment this season. He started his campaign in the best way possible, then everything started to go south for him but he still claimed to deserve playing time. The ludicrous rant after the Udinese match just made things worse.
Will: Jovetic, with an dishonourable mention for Martin Montoya. Despite me having picked his Atalanta goal as the best of the season. There's one tweet from the brilliant Fulvio Santucci that sums up his problem perfectly: "Jovetic should have a go at playing tennis next season. Having team-mates is a concept that he struggles to come to terms with."
Baraka: I want to be different here. I want to pick Eder because he scored so much for Sampdoria and then spectacularly failed at Inter (when he could've gone to Leicester and won the Premier League). I want to pick Ljajic because of his poor temperament. I want to pick Montoya because, well do I really even need to pick a reason? I would've gone with one of those others if it wasn't for Jovetic's supremely idiotic statements after the win against Empoli. Like it's bad enough that he played like shit for a good portion of the season, it's worse that he seemingly didn't realize he played like shit. If he actually wants to play all the time next season he needs to step up his game. A lot.
Player of the Year
Will: With all due respect for the excellent seasons that Icardi, Perisic and Handanovic have had, it has to be Miranda as far as I'm concerned. I think that because he's the one player without which we would have made it nowhere near fourth place this year. Like many, I was in two minds over the decision to sign him after he'd shown a few signs of decline during his last campaign at Atletico, but in hindsight it was the most important move we made last summer - perhaps even our most important signing of the post-treble era so far. To have any chance of completing a successful season - which I would still retain we have had to some extent - we needed to exorcise the ghost of Andrea Ranocchia commanding the centre of our defence, and return to having a back four that could be taken seriously by the rest of the division. Miranda has practically accomplished that mission by himself, demonstrating how stupid it is for Dunga to have made Neymar captain of the Brazilian national team ahead of him and allowing the rest of his team-mates to play better than they otherwise would, with Murillo being a case in point. He's the one player I'd put a veto on selling if I were Mancini, because without him Inter would not have returned to being a credible team.
Baraka: I already gushed about Miranda in my player ratings article so I feel like any further praise would be excessive.
Luca: This is a very hard choice for me. Miranda single-handedly resurrected our defense and brought the team back in the high spot they deserve. On the other hand, Icardi single-handedly kept our scoring record on a decent level and allowed the team to win a lot of times, even when we wouldn't have deserved the three points. So that's a tie for me. I'm sorry but I don't have the guts to pick Miranda over Maurito or vice-versa. Both were really great and to me, they are the only two worthy of wearing the captain armband and who shouldn't be sold this summer, for any price.