After yet another discouraging result that leaves Inter with only two points from their last five games, crisis mode has been activated once again. The club’s goal of reaching any European competition is in serious jeopardy, and the team’s performances have been unacceptable as of late. Per usual in a situation like this the manager’s head is the first on the chopping block, and rumors saying that Pioli’s time at the club is coming to a close have greatly increased.
Gazzetta Dello Sport has stated that Inter is offering €55m over five seasons to either Diego Simeone or Antonio Conte if one of the two men will agree to join the Italian club over the summer. The caveat is that Suning wants a decision within the next 20 days so they can look into alternatives as quickly as possible, the top alternate candidates currently being Roma’s Luciano Spalletti as well as Monaco’s Leandro Jardim. If this is true Suning seems to hope that throwing eye-watering sums of money at coaches will be enough to get them to forget all about their current projects and more importantly look past the multitude of issues plaguing Inter to agree to join this club. (For purposes of comparison here is a list of the highest paid managers right now, if either manager accepted Inter’s offer he would immediately become the third highest paid manager in the world).
If Conte accepts this offer I will be truly shocked. If Simeone makes it to the Champions League final I think there’s a possibility he’ll seriously consider joining at the conclusion of this season rather than his rumored agreement to join at the end of next season. A win would allow him to leave Atletico on a high a la Mourinho at Inter, while considering how defeated he seemed after his last CL defeat, a third one might see him walk away from the club in favor of a new experience. I think that Spaletti and Jardim are improvements over Pioli but either manager will demand a long-term contract which would force Suning to give up their Simeone dream for anytime in the near future.
In response to the speculation being offered by the Italian media, Inter released a statement today standing by their current manager. While announcing that the club was going to be in ritiro from Tuesday until the Napoli match on Sunday, the statement said that the board “confirms its full backing...in Stefano Pioli and his entire technical team.” It went on to say he deserves respect and that Inter “will not be distracted by rumors circulated by those outside of the Club”.
A close reader of the statement might notice that while the document supports Pioli and talks about finishing the season strongly, it never says anything about the club wanting to stand by him through the remainder of his contract. This doesn’t exactly pour cold water on the reports being released, it just tries to show that the club is unified at least through the end of the season. One interesting story being spread today that goes towards that is the rumors that Pioli announced his resignation after the Fiorentina loss but Steven Zhang and Ausilio convinced him to stay. Some say that he agreed to stay until the end of the season, while others think that if his side loses again this weekend he will try to resign again. Considering the fact that Inter plays Napoli next plus Pioli’s awful record against big teams, if the latter rumor is the more truthful one we can expect Zhang and Ausilio to either be having this conversation again very soon, or calling on Primavera coach Stefano Vecchi once again.