As this column has already said this season, Inter will not win the Champions League. But after Tuesday’s performance at the Camp Nou, Massimo Moratti must be seriously considering whether this current Inter side will ever perform in Europe. As if to illustrate this point, reports emerged Wednesday morning claiming that Coach José Mourinho will be sacked should Inter fail to make it through the group stage. Despite his success in Serie A, Mourinho’s side have severely disappointed in the Champions League, and rumours abound that President Moratti has had enough. It is difficult to see what is wrong with the side in terms of personnel, with the Milanese side having one of the best player-for-player squads in Europe. Moratti himself moved to end these rumours by saying that the club have full confidence in their Coach – but Mourinho now knows that the club expect much more from both him and his side in Europe.
It may not have been just the defeat to Barcelona that has influenced Moratti, but the manner of the defeat. Even though Barça are the best side on the continent at the moment, they were without Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Inter could not even trouble them at the back. Throughout the 90 minutes there was no point when the Nerazzurri looked capable of getting anything from the game, and with a strike pairing of Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito this should not have been the case. There are losses and there are humiliations, and this was the latter.
After the game, the usually defiant Mourinho had to admit that Barcelona were just too good for his side: “we are far behind in terms of individual quality, they play better.” He was also critical of his own side, saying that he thought they should have played with more desire and less fear, but surely it is part of the Coach’s job to make sure that his team are properly motivated – and if he cannot motivate them for a game against Barcelona, then when are they going to show enough desire?
In truth, it was Johan Cruyff that really summed up the difference between the two sides after the match. “There isn’t the money in the world to pay for or buy style,” he said, “when you keep letting Iniesta, Xavi and Busquets touch the ball, control the ball, the possession keeps getting away from you, you become sick of running and get tired.” Cruyff understands that, despite the amount of money invested in the Inter squad, they have not built a team that has developed a playing style of its own. Mourinho said that his side missed Wesley Sneijder on Tuesday, but Barça performed very well without two of their most important players.
Whether or not sacking Mourinho would be part of the way to rectify Inter’s problems in Europe is difficult to say, but the fact is that under Roberto Mancini they progressed further in the Champions League with an arguably weaker side than they have at the moment. A second-round appearance and a potential group stage knockout is a totally unacceptable record for a team like Inter. They may still make it through this season, but nobody believes that they have a chance of progressing much further, especially as a second place finish would see them face a group winner.
This edition of Inter Club Focus has been a bit depressing for Nerazzurri fans, and Football Italiano hoped that there would be a lighter story to end with. The football gods granted this request when a woman on horseback tried to enter Inter’s Appiano Gentile training ground. Security personnel had to be called to stop this quasi-medieval invasion. It is not clear what the person hoped to gain from riding in on a horse, but we hope that it has no relation to the current link between footballers and horses.
Inter Club Focus 2009/10
Another Scudetto for the Nerazzurri? – August 18, 2009
A stuttering start, and a Portuguese explosion – August 25, 2009
It’s derby time – August 28, 2009
A wonderful derby but the champions of Europe are waiting – September 1, 2009
All is well for la Beneamata – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Friendlies, injuries and stolen boots… – September 7, 2009
Nerazzurri look to the future as Ibra looks back – September 11, 2009
Inter get a point, but that’s not the point – September 18, 2009
They never had a problem with ugly wins – September 22, 2009
Partenopei are beaten Black and Blue – September 25, 2009
Blucerchiati run rings round Inter – September 29, 2009
Champions League? You’re having a laugh – October 2, 2009
I’d rather be lucky than good – October 6, 2009
The international break – October 6, 2009
International Week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)
Transfer Talk – October 13, 2009
Back to Genova – October 16, 2009
The Puzzle continues – October 20, 2009
What next? – October 23, 2009
Papering over the cracks – October 27, 2009
The pressure is on as Inter almost throw it away against Palermo – October 30, 2009
Judgement day awaits – November 3, 2009
Just in time – November 6, 2009
A draw with Roma, but things look good – November 10, 2009
Back to the day job – November 20, 2009
A Messi situation – November 24, 2009
It was embarrassing – November 27, 2009