In his regular weekly column Inter fanatic Sam Olsen will be delving deep into the stories that matter to Inter’s fans looking to keep the spirit of discussion and dispute alive and well on the pages of Sempreinter.com. New Zealander Sam has published several books on military history as well as contributing to a number of sport and news related websites. His love for Inter began in 1997 watching Ronaldo waltz through confused defences in the famous blue and black, and he has enjoyed the roller coaster ride ever since. His favourite moment was watching the team lift the Coppa Italia in 04-05 with Mancini, breaking the long domestic trophy drought, while his favourite player is Javier Zanetti, the great one, who encompasses everything good and right about the club.
With a little under a month to go before the start of the 2014/15 season, the new edition of Internazionale is slowly ripening like a good wine under combined attentions of Walter Mazzarri and Erik Thohir. Behind the scenes the club has been undergoing a revolution that has given it a much more global outlook with several foreign names popping up in key positions and a new emphasis on English communications to make the club more accessible to emerging markets. It is clear that these changes are necessary in order to keep pace with the top tier of European football, who appears to have been elevated to a whole new level if their incredible, post financial fair play, spending is anything to go by.
The market itself has been a picture of restraint by the Nerazzurri who are still hamstrung by their inflated squad of, generally overpaid, players which makes them harder to move on than a bunch of drunken teenagers loitering outside of McDonald’s. This burden is being reduced for every season that goes by but it continues to hang like a lead weight around the neck of the club, leaving it to live virtually off coupons in order to get by.
It is quite clear that at this point in time that Inter are still some distance away from the top table of elite clubs in European football in terms of funds available to buy players. The clubs fans can only watch in envy as Real Madrid and Barcelona fight to see who can empty their bulging pockets fastest, while mid table English teams get busy wallowing in the swimming pools of cash gifted to them by over exuberant pay TV channels allowing them to break their transfer records year on year. Even last seasons Premier League comedy team Manchester United are having a good old time in planning how to spend the cash from their whopping 750 million POUND, ten year shirt deal with Adidas, a sum that makes Inter’s 200 million EURO, ten year shirt deal seem like pocket money. With Inter now clearly fighting for scraps in the second tier of Europeans football’s elite the club has to work smarter and more efficiently in both the transfer market and on the field. Piero Ausilio is working hard to squeeze the blood out of every stone he can get close to although perhaps the selling side is proving to be more difficult than the buying, particularly when you have a Guarin shaped boulder that refuses to budge to a club that can afford his unique combination of high wages and erratic performances. This tightening of the screws has meant that Manager Walter Mazzarri will need to utilise all his guile and experience if he is to get anything more out of next season than he did the last. Here are three thoughts on what ’the Cautious One’ must do to make 2014/15 one to remember.
Be Bold: Anyone who watched the World Cup would have been thrilled by the verve and swagger displayed by some of the games lesser lights such as Chile, Columbia, Algeria and of course Costa Rica to name a few. They played as if they had nothing to lose, which of course they didn’t, and upset some of the games real aristocrats. This attacking intent, marked by aggressive, pressing and quick transitions as well as a tactical flexibility not usually seen in International football, lit up the tournament and showed what could be done with the right attitude. It was interesting to see that all three of the Italian manager’s teams failed miserably in the tournament as their dour and defensive tactics struggled to cope with the pace, verve and aggression of their opponents. This is modern football and Mazzarri needs to be bold and adapt to it. Give his players the confidence to be aggressive, to attack and to have a go. He must resist the temptation to grasp caution as he is so inclined to do. It can only lead down the same path that Fabio Capello, Cesare Prandelli and Alberto Zaccheroni took at the World Cup. Failure.
Trust in the potential of Inter’s youth: As mentioned above Inter cannot compete with the big guns of Europe for the game’s elite. They just can’t. These new financial restrictions must force Inter to look longer term in regards to their players’ development and not just leave the kids rotting on the bench while the old boys do the job on the pitch. If Inter are to compete against the top they need to get the players with the most potential out on the pitch, even if they have a poor games here and there. Players like Kovacic, Icardi and Juan Jesus, amongst others, are only going to get better if they get game time. They have the potential to be the stars that we can no longer afford to buy ready made. Mazzarri has to give them the confidence to have bad games and to learn from them, allow them to express themselves and let the talent that led us to sign them in the first place shine.
Mix things up: Another thing that came out of the World Cup was the managers’ ability to change things up when need be. Whether it be van Gaal changing formations several times a game or Marc Wilmots knack for introducing scoring substitutes, the managers at the World Cup who were brave found fortune. Mazzarri has to take this on board. A major criticism of him last year was that he seemed paralysed by fear into making any changes when a game was in the balance. It was like watching a proverbial deer in the headlights, dazzled by what was happening in front of him and afraid to move in case something went wrong or changed for the worst. Once things did go wrong, which happened rather regularly last season, he seemed unsure of how to proceed and when he did make the changes it was often too little too late. I would like to see him being a bit more proactive and positive next season. Making attacking changes to take the game to the opposition rather than trying to hold them off. Keep the team on the front foot and leave the opposition scrambling to react.
If Mazzarri is to take Inter forward he must throw off the shackles a little and be bold, positive and aggressive in his management. He has a responsibility to the fans and history of Inter to send his teams out there with a winning mindset. If Inter can take back the initiative and play in a manner befitting a club of its size then there is no reason why they can’t get their fear factor back and challenge at least for a place at the table of the Champions League.
Do you agree with Sam? Discuss below in the comments section.