It is difficult to know where to place the blame for Inter’s Champions League problems. Whatever is wrong at the club is something that needs to be addressed urgently, because the Italian champions are quickly becoming one of the biggest enigmas in world football.
The first person to come under the spotlight has to be coach Jose Mourinho, who has had a somewhat indifferent career in Europe after winning the Champions League with Porto in 2004. That is not to say that his teams have not done well in the competition, because an appearance in the semi-finals is a creditable achievement, but when you look at the amount of money he has spent compared to his success in Europe one has to question whether Inter can ever win with him in charge. At first, he claimed that it was a case of not having the right players for the job, but now, after the money he has spent it is time for him to start making good on the promises he made to the fans.
The players also have to take their share of the blame. Despite being one of the most talented squads of footballers on the continent, they often show a lack of desire (certain parties excepted, namely Javier Zanetti) that undermines their performances against teams they should be beating easily. If they showed the same desire and commitment against Kiev and Rubin Kazan that they did against Milan or Genoa then qualification from the group stage would all be assured, even with Barcelona still to play.
The final guilty party is club President Massimo Moratti. Nobody can doubt how much he loves the team, and the amount of his own money that he has put into the club since he took over has been huge. But Moratti has always looked for the quick fix. The calciopoli scandal turned his side from the almost-men of Serie A into champions – despite that fact that they had dramtically underachieved in the preceding decade – signing big name players for large sums of money rather than building a squad. Consequently, they are not as mentally strong as a side that has had to work for their achievements, constantly learning to recover from setbacks along the way.
The reaction to the Kiev game has been mixed, with Mourinho blaming the result on how tired his players seemed, but realising that Inter are very close to being knocked out of this year’s competition. “Everyone knows that I am not a coach who likes to make excuses,” said the Portuguese tactician, without a hint of irony, “But tonight my players were really struggling. They just weren’t up to it. We must now do well in Kiev, and will need to win. If we lose, then we’re out.” Captain Zanetti echoed this, saying that the team ‘tried everything’ to change the game, but were simply unable to get ahead despite having chances to do so. The strangest reaction came from Dejan Stankovic, who proclaimed himself happy with a draw, “It did not go as bad as it could have this evening”, he said, “The important thing is that we did not lose.” While it is true that a loss would have been a disaster for la Beneamata, perhaps Stankovic does not realise how difficult it will be to get three points in Kiev, and then any points at all at the Camp Nou against Barcelona.
Stankovic and Wesley Sneijder made it known after the game that they are unhappy with the state of the Meazza pitch, and find it difficult to play in such conditions. “The playing field is a disaster. The truth is that it is unacceptable for a team like ours to have to play on a field like this,” he said. Sneijder then added, “It’s difficult for us to play here.” This is something that both Milanese sides need to sort out, because it will be to the advantage of both teams to have a top class pitch on which to play.
One amusing incident, although not for the Nerazzurri, in the aftermath of their Champions League game this week, was an altercation between Massimo Moratti and a Juventus fan. The man waited outside Moratti’s Saras offices for il presidente to leave work on Wednesday afternoon and then handed him a piece of paper cut into the shape of the Champion League trophy. He said: “President can you lift this paper? That way you can add the paper cup to all those paper Scudetti you have won!” This left Moratti understandably angry and he stormed off, crumpling up the paper as he left. Sadly, the Juve fan was right in one sense, the best chance Moratti will have to get the famous trophy this season is to make one.
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