The problem behind the problem?

By Joseph Milford

Gian Piero Gasperini went winless in his five matches as Inter’s manager

The nil-nil result between Inter and Roma at the weekend was one that sparked a debate over which under-fire manager would go first, Luis Enrique or Gian Piero Gasperini. And while both are at the head of two of the biggest clubs, not just in Serie A, but in Europe, Tuesday’s result for the Nerazzuri made Gasperini the more likely of the two to be sacked. 

Against league newcomers Novara, Inter suffered a shocking 3-1 defeat on Tuesday night pushing Gasperini, the former Genoa boss, ever closer to the proverbial axe. On Wednesday that axe was used to full effect by Massimo Moratti as Gasperini was given his marching orders after just three league games with Inter.

But for all the faults and shortcomings that he displayed during his very brief stay in Milan, the problems that lie at the San Siro just seem to go beyond the manager himself, and perhaps more so, in the board room.

It would not be an unfair assessment to say that some players simply looked lost under Gasperini. They struggled to adapt to his unorthodox 3-4-3 formation, which made Inter look like a bunch of square pegs in round holes. Having said this, the question must be asked: What was supposed to be expected of Gasperini in the first place?

What was to be expected of him after being brought in to coach a group of player who did not fit his system? More importantly, how much of Inter’s failures can we attribute to the manager, and how much could it be blamed on the general direction of the club?

Right now, Inter Milan have all the makings of a club in limbo. You have the superstar who left (Eto’o). You’ve got an excess of aging players and a lack of exciting young talent with playing time to offset those aging players. Another superstar who hasn’t left the club but very well could have (Snjeider), and no manager for the long term future.

Claudio Ranieri may yet sign on to become to new Nerazzuri boss, but perhaps after 16 months have passed since seeing the club lift the European Cup in Madrid, it’s time to face reality.

Inter have been a club in decline since their fantastic triumph against Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho quite simply, and quite evidently, was by far the man to get the best out of his players in Milan, and as such, many could feel that there was no where to go but down after his departure, but surely Inter could have coped with the post-treble era in much better fashion than they have.

Inter have struggled to emerge from the shadow of Jose Mourinho

Rafa Benitez came in after Jose left for Real, started well, but ultimately began to slump with Inter, and paid the price with his job. Benitez was sacked by Massimo Moratti shortly after winning the World Club Cup, later replaced by Leonardo who himself flattered to deceive and then promptly left the Inter during the summer. Perhaps what should be remembered most about Rafa though is his infamous “ultimatum” to his then employer, before being given the boot.

“There are three possibilities for the club.

“One, 100 per cent support for the coach and buy four or five players to build a stronger team with competition among the players to be able to carry on winning matches and trophies.”

“Two, carry on like this without a project, without planning and go ahead with one person to blame, for the whole season getting to May this way.”

“The third is to speak to my agent and reach an agreement if there is not this support. Simple.”

“A project without planning,” these may have been the four most important words that Rafa Benitez . At the time, there were those who painted Benitez’ comments as a political move, aimed at diverting the blame away from himself and towards ownership, rather than just speaking the truth. But now, with Massimo Moratti on the verge of putting pen to paper for a fourth manager in the past two seasons, with Inter having more players that seem out of their prime than in it, perhaps we must revert back top Rafa’s words and wonder, how accurate was he?

Upon the evidence of this season, Benitez seems more than justified.

What do you think about Inter’s precarious position?

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