”Amala, pazza Inter amala,” translated as “I love you, crazy Inter, I love you” – goes the famous Nerazzurri anthem and the club’s reputation as the most volatile one in the world was done no harm as Coach Leonardo pulled a rabbit with some Qatari karats out of his hat. Inter, the reigning world club champions are now looking for their fourth Coach in just over a year.
The suddenness of Leonardo’s departure is probably what caught everyone off-guard. The Nerazzurri hierarchy had given him their vote of confidence at the end of the season and the Coppa Italia victory was seen as the stable stepping stone towards the future. But as has been so often the case in football and particularly in Milan, the stability turned out to be short-lived. With hindsight, there are a number of reasons that led to the Brazilian being tempted by the director’s chair at PSG and the €5 million being offered by his soon-to-be bosses must have undoubtedly been one of them.
But money aside, there is some footballing logic behind this rather rude goodbye. It is quite plausible that Leonardo realised that his place on the bench was a tenuous one and at the first sight of a better manager, he would be likely be tossed away. There was also the small matter of his tactical deficiencies which the Italian press loved to point out and his place amongst the Serpenti was poisoned due to his long standing association with the red and black of Milan. But, the problem for Inter is not just that of finding a new Coach, it will spread further to keeping hold of their star players who will undoubtedly be disillusioned by this constant carousel of managers.
Already there have been statements made by Wesley Sneijder and Samuel Eto’o revealing they might consider other avenues. The same players who pledged allegiance to the club only a few months ago, are having second thoughts about their futures. While, one may instinctively label them as mercenaries, the current atmosphere of uncertainty one can understand their sentiments. The Nerazzurri are in the danger of becoming the same laughing stock of the peninsula that they were only a decade or so ago. The club needs a strong man at the helm who will be able to instil not just stability but also a sense of pride and yet one who can understand his players.
An overview will reveal that the squad is set in its ways. One saw during the Rafa Benitez era that changing the mould cast by Mourinho is mighty difficult. A radical like Marcelo Biesla could provide short-term relief but his ideas will surely not be entertained by the core of the team. While, others like Gianpiero Gasperini and Delio Rossi are not suited to handling the enormous pressure of expectations which comes with the Inter hotseat. Most importantly, the players which are dithering need to be reassured of their continued chances of success with the club and for this reason they need someone who can instil faith and belief in the team which will undoubtedly be very low right now.
Inter are at a cross-roads and President Massimo Moratti has the unenviable decision to make – either admit his champions are falling apart and start construction anew or try and somehow patch up the enormous cracks that have appeared at the base of the club. With Pep Guardiola set to leave Barcelona next year, could the Nerazzurri perhaps afford to spend a year in the wilderness?