So here we are less than two weeks before the start of the Serie A season and it looks like Roberto Mancini is leaving Inter (through "mutual agreement to terminate the contract") to be replaced by Frank De Boer. Whether you are happy, dissapointed, or just pissed off by these developments we can all agree that this is a bit of a mess. There's a lot to sort through in all of this so I'm just going to attempt to dissect my (very late night) thoughts and we can discuss the details as they emerge later.
First, some words on Mancini. Why? Why? Why? Why on earth would he wait until two weeks before the season begins to leave the club. He had all summer to decide this wasn't what he wanted. He waited until after the team collapsed time after time in preseason friendlies. He waited until after Inter overpaid for Antonio Candreva just to make him happy. Then after Inter opted not to either renew his contract in a way that suited him or made guarantees that made him happy he decided to up and quit.
Here's the thing though, this shouldn't have been a suprise. For months Mancini had been hearing reports that Inter was planning to sign Diego Simeone once Mancini's contract expired at the end of the upcoming season. He should have known that the club was not exatly eager to hand Mancini a long-term contract. It's not like he had earned one too. While he had an impressive first half of the season the second half saw his team pretty much implode and the manager retreat into a sulking child. If the club was confident that they could sign one of the most sought after managers in the game why would they continue on with Mancini, especially when he hadn't produced results to make it worth turning down Simeone?
Despite all this the club was still willing to (more or less) back Mancini this transfer market. Even though Suning Holding Group stated they were looking to sign promising youngsters they still splased quite a bit of cash for 29 year old Candreva since that was who Mancini wanted. The club was also about to submit a bid for Luis Gustavo as a compromise to Mancini's obsession with Yaya Toure. Yet apparently that wasn't good enough. Apparently the club was only willing to give Mancini what he wanted (a long-term contract extension) if he could meet certain performance requirements and Mancini didn't feel that the club was supporting him enough to reach those goals.
Well unless the club was asking Mancini to guarantee a double this season or to topple Juventus in Serie A I think the club has supported him. I feel that most fans would agree this squad is good enough to win at least one trophy this season. I feel that most fans would agree this squad is good enough to return to the Champions League (especially given how much Napoli and Roma were weakened by Juve). But Mancini disagreed and decided to walk, possibly causing major damage to his managerial reputation. This job was supposed to help repair his image as much as it did Inter's and quitting now after another temper tantrum will make the next club president considering taking a chance on him think long and hard about the risks the Italian will incur.
While Mancini will walk away from this relationship with scars Inter will also come out of this damaged. The club hierarchy thought they could play Mancini and now they risk being seriously burned. The very public pursuit of Diego Simeone unsettled Mancini, and the not so implicit knowledge that Inter was expecting the Argentinian manager to arrive next summer removed most incentives for Mancini to really care about the team. Though the new owners had very good reasons for rejecting Toure, it only served to further isolate Mancini and make him feel that the club didn't really want him around as more than a caretaker.
By the time Erick Thohir and the others realized that A) Mancini was serious about walking out and B) the club still required further signings, it was pretty much too late. Mancini was all but demanding contract renewal talks in order to stay plus poor preseason friendly results made Inter's heirarchy less than impressed with their coach. Putting the two groups in a room at this time was only going to lead to one result.
So despite Inter's efforts to reestablish itself, despite hiring a more than competent Sporting Director, despite a (relatively) clear plan to return Inter to the upper echelons of Italian (an eventually European) play, despite new owners promising investment and international buisness opportunities, Inter is still proving to be Pazza Inter. Inter looks cursed to remain crazy, frustratingly predictable, pull-your-hair-out-in-agony Inter destined to be stuck fluctuating between Year Zero and Year One never able to break out of the post-Treble shadow.
This is the situation Frank De Boer is walking into and I honestly feel sorry for him. De Boer has proven himself to be a very good coach during his time at Ajax but he still has a massive amount to learn in very little time. Reports suggest that Inter might have reached out to the Dutchman earlier about taking the Inter job and I hope that's true because thay would mean he had a little more time to learn the new language, league and players he will be working with at Inter.
While De Boer favored a 433 formation at Ajax he also occasionally used a 4231 so he might not require a major squad upheaval. Hopefully he can get his message across to his new charges as quickly as possible. Inter had had too many Year Zero's already, the club cannot afford another one now.