Yesterday was a great day to be an Interista. We haven't had many this season - in fact you could count them on one hand, and with room to spare - but yesterday most definitely was one. For the fifth time in the last two decades, Juventus tried to win the Champions League, and for the fifth time in the last two decades they failed. For the second time in three years, they were convinced they would win the Triplete and match Inter's history achievement in 2010, and for the second time in three years they failed. Real Madrid took the Gobbis to the cleaners and crushed them 4-1.
So it's safe to say that we're all feeling pretty smug at the moment. Yes, of course it's small-time and doesn't detract from our own appalling season, but who really cares. All of Italy was looking forward to spending the next year writing sanctimonious and condescending editorials, about how Juve's Triplete team is infinitely better than our Triplete team, and now they can't. Because there is no Juve Triplete team! Ahahahaha!
But let's start focusing on ourselves again, because it's about time we became a successful club once more and stopped relying on the past to cheer us up. Before Saturday's big event in Cardiff some other, almost-as-big news broke during the afternoon from Firenze, where our sporting director Piero Ausilio and Chief Football Administrator Giovanni Gardini held a four-hour meeting with ex-Roma boss Luciano Spalletti. In the week leading up to the meeting, telephonic contact had taken place between the parties in which they had outlined an agreement for Spalletti to become Inter's new Head Coach on a two-year deal, as we reported via Twitter on Tuesday. That contact came after a long meeting held in Rome between Ausilio, Steven Zhang and new Suning Overlord* Walter Sabatini on 22 May, in which they identified the Tuscan coach as their sole candidate for the job after accepting that neither Antonio Conte nor Diego Simeone were available. As we wrote three weeks ago, they were Inter's first two choices and Spalletti was the only other man being seriously considered should both remain with their current clubs. Nobody else has genuinely been in with a shot.
*Not his official job title
Following the aforementioned meeting on Saturday afternoon, we can now finally say with certainty that Luciano Spalletti will be Inter's Head Coach for next season - and, in theory at least, the season after that as well. While the broad components of the agreement between the parties were in place before yesterday's face-to-face encounter, this confrontation enabled Ausilio and Gardini to sort out all the final details with Spalletti and make absolutely sure they were in agreement over everything. What we know for sure is that Spalletti will sign a two-year contract with Inter, as every source under the sun is reporting that; what we don't quite know for sure yet is whether that contract then includes an option for a third year, which would tie him to the club until 2020. Most news outlets have been saying for the past week that it would, and some - Libero, Corriere della Sera, Gazzetta dello Sport and Mediaset Premium to be precise - still are, but others - such as Corriere dello Sport, Alfredo Pedulla and Gianluca Di Marzio - now say there is no such clause written into the deal. Regardless, it goes without saying that results will determine how long Spalletti stays - right now it's difficult to imagine any coach making it through two full seasons at Inter.
As far as Spalletti's salary is concerned, most sources are agreed on the fact that it will be €4m per season, but there are also a series of bonuses that relate to qualification for the UEFA Champions League and, heaven forbid, an eventual Scudetto triumph (Corriere dello Sport, Mediaset Premium). Should he reach those the figure would rise to around €5m per season, but even without those bonuses this contract will make Spalletti the second highest-paid coach in Serie A after Massimiliano Allegri (Libero). As well as this, Mediaset believe there has been some kind of pro-Suning clause agreed upon, which one would imagine is related to how much money they'll have to give Spalletti should they opt to fire him, but as far as I can see this hasn't been fully explained yet - all I've read up to now is that the clause is designed to protect them, in one way or another.
We also have a good idea of what Spalletti's staff will look like. As ever his main assistant coach will be former Fiorentina and Empoli midfielder Marco Domenichini, who has followed Spalletti absolutely everywhere he has been in his coaching career since it began twenty years ago. As well as him, Daniele Baldini and Alessandro Pane will be brought in as 'collaborators' of some kind, while there will also be space for another technical assistant and a fitness coach. Adriano Bonaiuti will continue to fill the role of goalkeeping coach, having been at Inter since 2013 and having already worked with Spalletti at both Udinese and Roma (Mediaset Premium).
According to various sources, Inter will officially announce Spalletti as their new coach on Monday - or, at the latest, Tuesday. After that, he will likely be presented to the Italian press at the end of the week, and after that it is possible Spalletti will make a trip to Nanjing to introduce himself to Suning in person, having only communicated with them via the phone up to now (Corriere dello Sport). Whether or not that journey does take place, though, everything will be in place by the end of the coming week. Inter have finally chosen their new manager and can finally start preparing the season ahead. Celebrating the triumphs of Juventus' European opponents is always fun, but let's hope we can start rejoicing our own again before long. It's down to Spalletti to get that transitional process up and running.
(NB: I'm not at all hopeful about that.)