Inter Milan struggling in a post-Mourinho world

Massimo Moratti, chairman of Inter Milan, fired Claudio Ranieri after a poor run that saw Inter win only one of their past 10 games. Ranieri is just another example of Moratti’s love affair with Jose Mourinho. Since Moratti fired Roberto Mancini, present manager of Manchester City and three-time winner of Serie A with Inter, in order to hire Mourinho, managers have come and gone quickly.

I remember watching Mourinho’s last game in charge of Inter while on holiday in Sorrento near Naples. The week before, the Italians were claiming that Mournho was the greatest manager in the world and that Italian football was better for having him. Inter went on to easily beat Bayern Munich 2-0, both goals coming from Diego Milito, in a game that was incredibly one-sided and capped a very successful two-year period for Mourinho and Inter. Mourinho successfully completed the treble (League, Cup, Champions League) in the 2009-2010 season, which had never been done by an Italian team before and raised expectations even higher for Inter fans. However, the victory dampened some spirits of Inter fans across Italy as they realized that Mourinho was no longer going to want to manage in Italy now that he had won it all.

Mourinho bid farewell to Milan so that he could take charge at Real Madrid to fulfill his destiny of getting revenge on Barcelona for all the taunting over the years.

Since Mourinho left, Inter has had four managers in two years. Each one was seen as the answer to the current problem facing the club but none of them has really managed to be successful in the Jose Mourinho fashion. Both Chelsea and Inter have suffered since they lost Mourinho, and it can’t really be a coincidence that these clubs’ most successful periods came with Mourinho.

However, Mourinho does his job well by buying players in their prime, not ones who will grow over time, and he manages to get the best out of them through interpersonal relations and by fitting them into his system. When he signed for Chelsea, Mourinho said that he knew his formation and how he would play and so only needed 23 players to win the league. Twenty-three players meant two players for each position and a third goalkeeper. This meant that any manger that succeeded him had to deal with players bought to work in one formation and who don’t work quite as well any other way.

Players that prove this point at Inter are easy to come by. Mourinho brought in Lucio at his prime when Lucio was probably the best centre back in the world. His fellow defenders that provided such a good base for Mourinho are now all reaching the twilight years of their careers: Walter Samuel (age 34), Lucio (33), Maicon (30), Ivan Cordoba (35), Chivu (31) and Zanetti (38) were some of the best defenders under Mourinho, but are now two years older and not as effective. Wesley Sneijder was the best player for Inter under Mourinho and played the role of playmaker better than anyone. His touch was sublime and his passing directed play set up chances that won tough games. Sneijder finally reached his potential that had been seen by Ajax, Real Madrid and a whole host of clubs that wanted to sign him in 2007. But since Mourinho left, Sneijder has not been playing as well as he did.

Even signings like Diego Forlan, Pazzini and Zarate have not helped maintain the success of Mancini and Mourinho. Forlan was incredibly successful in the 2010 World Cup and for Villarreal and Atletico Madrid before joining Inter and was seen as one of the major transfers of the year. He has scored two goals so far making him another Fernando Torres, only less boyish. Zarate was brought in on loan at the beginning of the season and is a quick, tricky winger that should have brought some width to Inter and instead has been a disappointment. Pazzini has been the best of the post-Mourinho strikers with 11 goals in his first half-season but only five goals so far this season. Pazzini has been an effective striker in Serie A for the past four years but in his first full season at Inter he has not been able to hit his stride. Players not playing to their best seems to be a constant theme in the new-look Inter team.

The problem that needs to be fixed right now is finding a manager for the long term. Whether that is the caretaker manager or someone at the end of the season, there is a real necessity for someone to bring stability. The new manager needs to be given time to form a team and a strategy that are his own and not Mourinho’s. Moratti needs to realise that change is not going to bring instant success; the only way to move forward is to find a new manager and give it time. Ranieri, Gasperini, Leonardo and Benitez have all been fired in the past two years, but hopefully Stramaccioni will be given a chance.

James is a sophomore. You can reach him at

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