Sam Olsen: Gabigol, the symbol of Inter’s failure

Sam Olsen: Gabigol, the symbol of Inter’s failure
December 13, 2016 15:54
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In his regular weekly column Inter fanatic Sam Olsen dives deep into the stories that matter to Inter’s fans looking to keep the spirit of discussion alive and well on the pages of Sempreinter.com.

The 2016/17 season appears to be another which will lurch from one calamity to another before Inter finishes in or around the Europe League places. At season’s start there was a real feeling that this could be the one that took Inter to the next stage, to finally break that endless cycle of year zeros that have haunted the club since the capture of the elusive European title all those years ago, but it is not to be. Gross mismanagement, indecisiveness and a willingness to make the same mistakes over and over again have cast the club back into the mire. Until a decisive leader steps up, there does not seem to be a way for the club, ruled by the iron hand of fear, to finally move forward.

Perhaps the greatest indicator of the malaise that has spread through the halls of power is the plight of Gabriel Barbosa, the precocious talent that Inter snaffled from Santos only a few months ago. The signing was a signature signing for the club, one that represented a re-emergence as a global power, capable of taking on all others. This was a player wanted by some of the biggest, wealthiest clubs in Europe, but despite this, his signature was captured by Inter, for a hefty fee.

It wasn’t really the player himself though that was important more what he represented. Firstly, as mentioned above, he was someone who was highly coveted throughout Europe, a shining light emanating from Brazil that many of the world’s top clubs wanted to get their hands on. Barcelona was so incensed with the player joining Inter that they threatened to take Santos to court. It gave a boost in the arm to Inter fans too accustomed to signings coming from Genoa, Sampdoria and other mid-table battlers. It marked a turning point that the club was once again open for business, willing to put the money out there to secure the talent.

Then there was his age. As a man only just stretching a toe into his third decade he represented the future, of long term planning and of putting potential ahead of past experience. Combined with the signing of Frank de Boer as manager, the signal was ‘we are looking to build for the future, we are looking long term, we are building on youth’. A clear split from the past where quick fixes were favoured, bringing in aging stars on their last legs or filling the gaps with Serie A journeymen, a method that had seen the club slide into mediocrity.

‘Gabigol’ was the symbol of this revolution, the one who would take the club on a course that would finally see the youth team utilised to the benefit of the senior team, the one who would finally show that the mistakes of the past with Inter’s youth, best represented by the deal that saw Coutinho shipped off for a mere 13 odd million Euros, despite his obvious quality, had been understood and mended. But instead he has become something else.

He has become the symbol of the victory of fear over future. The victory of short term fixes over long term planning, of cronyism over solid leadership. For fans he represents the failure of the hope that people held at the start of the season, of the bright future, of a new found faith in potential.

A quick look at the events of the last few months demonstrates this. De Boer gets sacked because results are not good enough, a proven middling Serie A manager is bought in as per usual, the proven, experienced players again come to the forefront as per usual (is anyone surprised to see Melo, D’Ambrosio, Palacio gaining more minutes?) and the risk of youth and potential is once again pushed back into the shadows. It is a familiar pattern from a team that is making decisions based on fear. Go back to what you know. The problem is going back to what you know very rarely heralds better results.

That is not to say that ‘Gabigol’ deserves his place. Both de Boer and Pioli have decided that the player has not shown enough to be on the pitch. Only they know what is happening on the training ground. The frustrating thing is however, that we hear statements about how he is adapting, working hard, and training well but we don’t see the results of all this hard work. This ambiguity only leaves fans wondering that if everything was going so well why is he not given time on the pitch? Why are the managers so reluctant to put him on when 3-0 down or 2-0 up? Is it a contractual thing, has he said something bad about Thorir, is it his attitude? Who knows?

The fact of the matter is that ‘Gabigol’ has become a symbol of the malaise at the club, of its mismanagement of youth and business in general, of its failure to plan long term, of the victory of fear over boldness and of the lack of continuity both on and of the field. To make matters worse it seems the club next door has finally realised what Inter have failed to. That to give these young guys faith and confidence and let them go out and play with freedom will reap enormous reward. So while Milanistas can marvel at the skills of Donnarumma, Calabria, De Sciglio, Locatelli and the other youth players suddenly emerging through their system, Inter must be content with the fact that our own youth team players, who have been far more successful than Milan’s in recent years, have been cast adrift into a loan system that is proven not to yield results while we watch journeymen players gifted chance after chance despite a record of mediocrity


Words: Sam Olsen – Follow him @SamOlsenBYWV

By Cammy Anderson
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