The Nerazzurri have now suffered back to back defeats after loosing to Chievo last night. The rain poured down as Rafael Benitez saw his team well beaten in a match that now sees the Spaniard’s job look less than secure.
Inter had started the game well and looked sharp as they created chance after chance. Although injuries have taken their toll on the squad this year the line up that faced Chievo was easily strong enough to get all three points. It was the home side however that drew first blood when Nicolas Frey crossed in to Pellissier who towered above Santon to score the first goal of the game with a bullet header. Samuel Eto’o then amazingly got away with a moment of madness when he intentionally head butted Bostjan Cesar out of frustration. None of the officials saw the offence but he will still face disciplinary action. It was not only Eto’o who Chievo frustrated as Inter failed to make any chances pay and although continually probing they found themselves open to the counter attack. On the 82nd minute one such counter attack allowed Davide Moscardelli to tap home from only six yards for Chievo’s second and this ultimately ended the game. The Nerazzurri did pull one back when Samuel Eto’o single handedly tried to drag his side back into the game but it was too little too late.
Before the game had started Inter resident Massimo Moratti had stated that “we won’t change our coaching staff even if it’s a defeat.” This is not as clear cut as it looks. It is true that he did not intend to sack Benitez after this game but his words did mask the fact that he may just sack him if Inter are beaten by FC Twente in mid week. It is rumoured in the Italian press that before the game Benitez had two games to save himself as the only league defeats he had suffered were at Roma and against Milan. It is perhaps the opposition and the nature of this recent defeat that will make Moratti start to think about replacements.
Benitez himself was quick to dispel rumours that he may be axed and after the match stated that “we know the situation is critical with (Serie A leaders) AC Milan now nine points clear of us. I have spoken to Moratti and to Branca. We all need to be united. We are all in agreement that Inter has to win this type of games because we are a strong side. Is my job at risk? I am a professional, with so many years of experience. Do I feel I still have the president’s trust 100%? Yes I do. If we win on Wednesday in the Champions League all will change. We know that the only way we can turn things around is to work harder.” The way in which he expressed his views sounded confident although reading between the lines it is easy to see the importance of the FC Twente game. There is a real “do or die” feeling to the match and it will be a very tense affair.
One ex Inter legend did find the whole situation quite amusing. It does not take a genius to work out that this was last years treble winning coach and Benitez’s nemesis Jose Mourinho. When told of the result in Chievo he looked purposely surprised and commented “But how? Has he lost again? It’s incredible. They are already nine points behind…”, a jibe that although cheeky has a disturbing element of truth.
Moratti did not have as much to say as he did after the derby defeat although he commented about how he felt saying “Annoyance. It’s never pleasant.” When pressed further about whether he had faith in Benitez all he said was “yes” followed by a “but we’ll see if we get a result against Twente. We need to understand that Wednesday’s game is very important.”
With the press naming everyone from Fabio Capello to Diego Simeone as Inter’s next coach it seems that the writing is on the wall. Injuries or no injuries this team should be performing as the Nerazzurri have one of the strongest squads in Europe. The players too need to dig deep as there are too many that are underperforming. The problem Benitez has is that he does not seem that he can get the best out of them and he cannot get the levels of performance his predecessor could out of this team. If he cannot do this by Wednesday then the Spaniards tenure with the Nerazzurri could soon be at an end.