At this point, it’s becoming a near certainty that Luciano Spalletti will be appointed the next manager of Inter Milan. He’s Italian, has extensive experience in Serie A, and a proven track record of getting higher-than-expected results from his teams at AS Roma. It makes sense.
While Spalletti represents a safe choice for the club (and to be clear, it’s something I am not at all against), Inter would be wise to also consider alternatives. One such candidate is ex-Borussia Dortmund boss, Thomas Tuchel. While younger, and perhaps riskier than Spalletti, Tuchel’s upside is hard to ignore.
Prior to his Dortmund exit, which was confirmed today, Tuchel was the latest in a slew of managers making a name for themselves in Germany’s Bundesliga. A former player whose career was cut short due to injury, Tuchel’s big break came in 2009, when Mainz offered the then 34-year-old the role of first-team head coach after they gained promotion back to the German top flight.
At Mainz, Tuchel managed to consistently exceed expectations with his squad. In his first season, he guided them to a ninth-place finish, and qualified for the Europa League the following year. With limited resources and a high squad turnover, the young coach not only created a stable team, but also instilled a flexible style of play — one that he adapted for the players at his disposal, and crucially to the opposition as well.
After a two-year sabbatical, Tuchel took the unenviable task of replacing the immensely popular Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund, who left the club after turning it into one of the very best in Europe. Dortmund were struggling at the time, and while his impact wasn’t immediate, Tuchel eventually made a significant difference.
At Dortmund, Tuchel introduced a style of play carefully centered around three of Dortmund’s key stars: playmaking center back Mats Hummels, creative box-to-box midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, and tireless winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The system, merged with Klopp’s lasting emphasis of fast-paced pressing, once again turned Dortmund into one of the most difficult teams in Europe to break down.
This season, after all three of the players mentioned above left Dortmund, Tuchel was forced to rebuild on the fly with the club’s limited resources. Despite numerous setbacks, and the rise of Hoffenheim and RB Leipzig in Germany, Tuchel guided Dortmund to Champions League qualification and captured the DFB-Pokal.
In doing so, Tuchel demonstrated his tactical flexibility, and turned two teenagers (French winger Ousmane Dembele and American attacking-midfielder Christian Pulisic) into budding superstars.
Inter are a team in need of an identity, facing a summer that’s sure to be filled with significant turnover. The Nerazzurri are a very young side too. The likes of Mauro Icardi, Joao Mario, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Jeison Murillo, Roberto Gagliardini, Gabriel Barbosa and even Andrea Pinamonti and Senna Miangue (who’s out on loan) are all 25-years-old or younger. With the right guidance, the future could be very bright for this group of players.
When taking a closer look, it’s clear Tuchel has a proven track record of exceeding expectations with formerly underperforming sides, and more importantly, he has a habit turning talented young players into world-beaters. Astonishingly, Tuchel somehow managed to have his most successful year at Dortmund in a season after which three of his most important players left the club. All of this is to say that Tuchel has an impressive resume for a coach that’s just 43 years old.
Could Inter use a manger like that? Absolutely. Consider what he’s accomplished at Mainz and Dortmund, and now imagine what he could do with Suning’s resources.
Thomas Tuchel won’t be our next manager, it will very likely be Spalletti, but failing to at least consider the German would be a massive mistake in my opinion.