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Editorial: Consistency needs to be the key for Inter Milan

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Nerazzurri should stop ‘work in progress’ and settle.

Helenio Herrera
Football strategist, manager and coach of the Inter Milan team, Helenio Herrera.
Photo by Keystone/Getty Images

Some would suggest that patience is a virtue.

While that is true in most corners, in the world of football … it really isn’t.

Take Inter Milan for example.

Even before the treble season of 2009-2010, one of the largest clubs in the world has had a thirst for perfection. Winning titles and cups has been more of a need and less of a want.

As well it should.

The Nerazzurri have tasted success on every level of football. From the Scudetto to the Coppa Italia and to the UEFA Champions League, Inter Milan has won.

But, since that treble-winning season, something has been lacking: Consistency.

It seemed like after the 2011-2012 season, things started to collapse for Inter. Instead of returning to the glory years of the 1960s where the team won back-to-back European Cups, it almost seemed like Inter was heading toward the disappointment of the 1990s.

FC Internazionale Milano v SSC Napoli - Serie A
New President of FC Internazionale Milano Erick Thohir (R) and Massimo Moratti prior to the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and SSC Napoli at San Siro Stadium on April 26, 2014 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

In August 2012, owner Massimo Moratti announced he was selling a minority interest in the club to a Chinese consortium. The deal fell through and Inter finished ninth the following season.

Then, Erick Thohir and his Indonesian group purchased 70 percent of the club, but Inter still ran afoul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations, forcing the club to limit its spending in the transfer seasons.

Finally, in 2016, Chinese-based Suning Group purchased a majority stake in the club and started the process of righting several of the accounting wrongs for the club.

Now, recently, the club has had a better track record of success, finishing fourth last season and (hopefully) in the top four this season.

On the managerial side, since 2012, Inter has had eight … EIGHT … different managers. From Andrea Stramoccioni to Walter Mazzarri to and (dare I mention the disaster) Frank de Boer.

FC Internazionale Milano v Empoli FC - Serie A
FC Internazionale Milano head coach Roberto Mancini looks on during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale Milano and Empoli FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on May 7, 2016 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Some managerial fun facts:

  • Only six managers have stayed with Inter for longer than three seasons (Eugenio Bersellini, Virgilio Fossati, Helenio Herrera, Roberto Mancini, Giovanni Trapattoni and Arpad Weicz), out of 66 total managers.
  • Only 13 managers have won the Scudetto for Inter.
  • Interestingly enough, the managers who won the Scudetto multiple times (four), all except Alfredo Foni also won a combination of other trophies during their time with Inter.
  • Of 19 total titles for the Nerazzurri, Helenio Herrera and Roberto Mancini were at the helm for seven of those. Jose Mourinho had five titles in his two seasons.

And don’t even get me started on the waterfall of players that have come in and out of the Giuseppe Meazza during that time.

The point I’m trying to make here is that consistency goes a long way to success.

Don’t get me wrong, there are instances where keeping the same manager for more than just two years doesn’t yield the results one would expect (I’m looking at you Luciano Spalletti).

FC Barcelona v Manchester United - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Second Leg
Sir Alex Ferguson speaks to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Manager of Manchester United on the pitch prior to the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Manchester United at Camp Nou on April 16, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain.
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

But, having consistent ownership and consistent management can bring about a lot of success for a club. I point to Manchester United. For 26 years, Sir Alex Ferguson won 38 trophies – 13 Premier League crowns, five FA Cups and two UEFA Champions League titles.

Here are a few other long-standing managers who have been successful over time with one club:

  • Albert Batteux (Stade de Raim) – five Ligue 1 titles from 1953-1962
  • Guus Hiddink (PSV Eindhoven) – six Eredivisie titles, four KNVB Cups and one European Cup from 1987-2006
  • Rinus Michels (Ajax) – four Eredivisie titles, three KNVB Cups and one European Cup from 1966-1971
  • Bob Paisley (Liverpool) – six First Division titles, three League Cups, three European Cups and one UEFA Cup from 1976-1983
  • Miguel Munoz (Real Madrid) – nine La Liga titles, three Copa del Rey titles, two European Cups from 1960-1972
  • Udo Lattek (Bayern Munich) – six Bundesliga titles, three DFB Pokal titles and one European Cup from 1971-1987
  • Giovanni Trapattoni (Juventus) – six Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia titles, two UEFA Cups and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup from 1977-1993
  • Walter Smith (Glasgow Rangers) – 10 Scottish Premier League titles, five Scottish Cups and six Scottish League Cups from 1991-2011
  • Mircea Lucescu (Shakhtar Donetsk) – eight Ukranian Premier League titles, five Ukranian Cups and one UEFA Cup from 2004-2014
  • Valeriy Lobanovskyi (Dynamo Kyiv) – eight Soviet Top League titles, five Ukranian Premier League titles, six Soviet Cups, three Ukranian Cups and two UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup from 1974-2001
  • Jock Stein (Celtic) – 10 Scottish First Division titles, eight Scottish Cups, six Scottish League Cups and one European Cup from 1965-1977

Now, I know that some of these managers weren’t with the same team for the entire duration, but to win that many trophies with the same club over a long duration says something.

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A
FC Internazionale coach Luciano Spalletti issues instructions to his players during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and Juventus at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on April 27, 2019 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Of course, having strong, active ownership buying into the manager’s philosophy and allowing the manager to pick up players that best fit the system goes hand-in-hand with that.

Now, I believe Suning would be ownership willing to get behind a manager that brings a track record and proves an ability to provide a strong return on investment. After all, we have to look at this as a business because that is how Suning looks at Inter. It isn’t a hobby or something to dodge taxes, it is a business entity.

But, where we are now is not where we want to be. We want to be challenging for the Scudetto each season, not languishing in a battle just to make the top four.

We want to be challenging in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, not being satisfied with being in the group stage and losing out on the last group match day of the season.

We want to be challenging for the Coppa Italia, not playing one match and being knocked out in the next round.

It’s going to take consistency at the top to make that happen.

We have to stop building a team in hopes of magic happening. It’s time for the “work in progress” to stop.

If we ever hope of repeating the glory of the treble or the dominant years of the 1960s, we need a manager with vision and ownership willing to get behind that vision.


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