‘Crazy Inter’ throws campaign in doubt weeks out from Serie A start


The seeds of discontent had been brewing for some time. Whispers regarding how to take Inter forward. That boiled over on Monday when it was announced Roberto Mancini had left the Nerazzurri “by mutual agreement.”

A big sign came earlier in the day as the team trained without the boss, a sure-fire sign amid the chatter that an exit was near. Mancini had only returned to the club in November 2014 and last season had the Nerazzurri at the top of Serie A before Christmas. They would fall away to miss the Champions League.

Inter, hungry to return to that competition, has been busy on the transfer front. Ever Banega, Cristian Ansaldi and most recently, Antonio Candreva, headline the summer additions. They have kept the majority of their usual team from last season, but there still appeared a separation of ideas between coach and club as to how to further progress.

Taken over by new Chinese owners from the Suning Group, their plan is for a long-term Inter. Signing promising players and seeing them develop. Mancini was also thinking shorter term and was interested in the likes of Yaya Toure. Players he feel could help Inter here and now as they look to throw Juventus from their throne.

Less than two weeks from the start of the season, it is hardly an ideal move. But after only one win in seven pre-season matches – including a 6-1 drubbing against Tottenham – there were some concerns. The whole scenario is a throwback to the days of ‘Pazza Inter’ – Crazy Inter – in the 1990s.

Now, the question is who comes in and what he can be expected to do at this point. Dutchman Frank de Boer is the clear favourite and could be announced as early as Tuesday. President Erick Thohir hopes to do so as soon as possible. The Ajax boss has not coached outside his home nation and with such little time to work with the team before the opening round trip to Chievo, it is a huge gamble for the new owners to take. It puts the onus on experienced players, like Samir Handanovic, Joao Miranda and Gary Medel, as well as captain Mauro Icardi, to lead by example.

Mancini took time to thank the club and fans for support, wishing Inter “a future full of achievements and important sports results.” But this move serves to put their campaign in some jeopardy before it has commenced. How will Inter respond to this ill-timed change?

Inter Milan seal highest Serie A finish for five years


Inter Milan enjoyed a 2-1 win over Empoli on Saturday afternoon to seal fourth place in the Italian Serie A table. The Nerazzurri will be back in continental competition next season in the form of Europa League football, but manager Roberto Mancini will be aiming for much bigger than a top-four finish in 2016/17.

“We would not have finished fourth if we did everything right. The position is what we deserve, because we threw away what we had done for the first six months. In Italy we are quick to criticise all aspects of a team, but instead you have to see the good things that a team does, and we have made progress,” said Mancini.

“We will seek to strengthen the team (in the transfer window), but this is still the best season of the last five years. We thank the fans who came to San Siro, we hope next year to be able to give them some extra satisfaction,” he added.

Inter hadn’t finished in the top-four of the Serie A since 2010/11, and had Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic to thank for delivering a much-needed win. Fiorentina were chasing Inter for a place in the Europa League, but can no longer catch Mancini’s side with two games to go.

The Nerazzurri were chasing the league title earlier in the season, but suffered a slump in form and saw eventual champions Juventus hit perfect form to leapfrog Inter, Napoli and AS Roma to retain their crown. Mancini wants his side to take inspiration from their rivals’ season, calling on the Inter squad to play with such confidence of clawing their way out of trouble regardless.

“We have to improve many things, the technical quality, the desire to fight and we must learn not to give anything away in times of difficulty, like how Juve do. Surely we have to improve our quality, this is crucial. The gap between Juve and the other teams is huge,” said Mancini. Next season will be the first full season of Mancini at the San Siro, and he’ll be hoping a side can finally end Juventus’ monopoly on the division.

Playing in the Europa League is sure to attract a better calibre of players, so Inter should be able to adequately strengthen their squad in the summer to improve upon their fourth-placed finish. Returning to the Champions League is the priority, but if they can start 2016/17 strongly, Mancini might fancy his chances of a title challenge.

Nerazzurri shaping as Scudetto contenders despite Christmas defeat


They could have enjoyed a four point gap going into the winter break. A win at home against struggling Lazio would have done the trick. Rather, Inter must look over their shoulder, only a point clear of a tightly-bunched chasing pack.

It wasn’t what Roberto Mancini was hoping for. Inter had won their last three matches in all competitions, netting eight and keeping three clean sheets. But they were stunned by Antonio Candreva, who scored early and then late to cancel Mauro Icardi’s equaliser and end Lazio’s seven-round winless run.

And Mancini says his team deserved what they got. Nonetheless, he goes into the Christmas break satisfied with how the season has progressed. “We are still the leaders and in pre-season we’d have happily taken this position.”

Having sat on the outside looking in for what fans would deem far too long – they last challenged for the Scudetto in 2011 – the Nerazzurri can once more consider themselves contenders.

The initial rounds were characterised by 1-0 victories. Inter have recorded eight in fact, out of 11 wins. Mancini’s side holds the best defensive record, having conceded just 11 times. For a team whose best return in four seasons was 39 goals conceded, the wins were important to re-establish the defensive solidity highlighted during their Scudetto winning campaigns.

Their three losses were against top half clubs, including Scudetto rivals Napoli and Fiorentina. Where the Nerazzurri were last term robbed of consistency by dropping points against lower ranked clubs, they’re now stringing wins together. Only Sampdoria and Palermo from the bottom half have claimed points against them. Inter may not always be pretty, but certainly effective. Summer defensive signings Jeison Murillo and Joao Miranda, plus the goalkeeping exploits of Samir Handanovic, have been vital.

But with single-goal wins comes questions in attack. Icardi has not scored with the same regularity as last season. He’s improving and the strike versus Lazio was his seventh. Meanwhile, Stevan Jovetic started brightly but only has four goals. Rodrigo Palacio hasn’t netted. Their 23-goal tally is the lowest of the main contenders. Having rediscovered defensive solidity, improving the attacking prowess is Mancini’s next step.

Inter begin 2016 with potential banana-skins against three surprise sides – Empoli, Sassuolo and Atalanta – but being the only challenger without European competition to contend with is a huge benefit.

Lazio loss aside, the leaders look set for the long haul in the Scudetto race.

Icardi must rediscover scoring touch to drive Inter forward


As the starting line-ups were announced for the hugely anticipated showdown, one name was conspicuous by its absence. Instead of leading his team out for the top-of-the-table battle against Roma, Inter captain Mauro Icardi found himself trudging towards the bench.

That, it was perceived, was an act of punishment for words expressed after the Nerazzurri downed Bologna, thanks to a lone Icardi strike. It was only his third of the campaign.

“The drought didn’t weigh on me, but it is true that when we play I don’t get much service. It’s a shame, as I am a striker and I can only score if the ball gets to me.”

These comments didn’t sit well with Coach Roberto Mancini. In his pre-Roma Press conference the boss replied: “I want goals from him, not excuses.” Nonetheless, director Piero Ausilio insisted Icardi’s benching was a technical choice. Mancini made a similar claim afterwards.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Big-spending Inter transformed the squad in the summer eyeing a top three position, with Icardi to head the revolution. Promoted to captain, he was expected to spearhead an improved attack, after netting 22 times last term.

Nonetheless, Inter did defeat Roma thanks to a long-range Gary Medel goal. It was their seventh victory of the season, meaning they sit only goal difference behind Fiorentina. Of those seven, six have finished 1-0. The other was 2-1. Inter have netted just 11 goals. It shows Inter are doing just enough to triumph. That goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has been repeatedly praised – he starred against Roma – adds to the suggestion.

And what of Icardi? The Argentine is central to Mancini’s attack, but the feeling is he is too isolated at present and hasn’t clicked with Stevan Jovetic. But he has the quality. Inter fought tooth and nail to ward off summer interest for a reason. Icardi is a predator who thrives on service. It wasn’t the correct forum to voice grievances, but there was truth to his statement.

Mancini and Icardi cleared the air on Monday and he is in line to be reinstated against Torino. With Inter struggling in front of goal they need Icardi to show his capocannoniere best and demonstrate why he is wearing the armband. Mancini expects him to deliver.

The outburst out the way, the 22-year-old must return to last season’s heights. With Icardi in peak form, Inter are a dangerous unit.

Should Inter Milan be taken seriously in the Serie A title race?

Inter Milan recently confirmed a deal to sign Manchester City striker Stevan Jovetic, with the Montenegro international their seventh major signing of the summer. Manager Roberto Mancini has been tasked with a rebuild following a woeful last campaign that saw Inter finish closer to the relegation zone than the top spot, and he’s made some good acquisitions so far.

  • Geoffrey Kondogbia (AS Monaco) £21M
  • Xherdan Shaqiri (Bayern Munich) £11M
  • Jeison Murillo (Granada CF) £6M
  • Davide Santon (Newcastle United) £2.5M
  • Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) Loan fee: £2.1M
  • Miranda (Atlético Madrid) Loan fee: £2.1M
  • Martín Montoya (FC Barcelona) Loan fee: £1M

The Serie A giants have strengthened in almost every area this summer, and are desperate to push for a Champions League spot in the table again. Re-appointing manager Roberto Mancini saw an improvement in form, but the Azzurri have a long way to go before they’re back in the upper reaches.

Inter have finished outside of the top-four in each of the last four seasons, and have sold key players over the years which has made their task even harder. Upon his return to the San Siro, Mancini admitted this was his toughest task in management, saying: “To come back to Inter is the biggest challenge. It’s not easy at this moment.”

“It’s not easy because we are working very well, but the results are so-so, and, you know, Inter is a top club. The supporters want to win every game. At this moment it’s difficult, and this is a very big challenge for me, but I think that when we win again.”

Juventus have been the team to beat in Italy, with the Old Lady having won four consecutive Serie A titles, but they too have strengthened in the transfer market. Inter Milan are going in the right direction to start their climb up the table, but Mancini’s first full season back at the club could still be one of learning. Inter’s side still need a lot of work done to it, and they still need an overhaul of the playing squad.

However, their resurgence looks to be on the cards, and the coming season should showcase some real progression from the Azzurri. Roberto Mancini is a hero for his title-winning antics in his first stint, but if he could turn the club around this time, he would be considered above the likes of treble-winner Jose Mourinho to the fans.

So could it be time to take Inter Milan seriously in the title race?

Inter Milan: A club in real turmoil

Italian Serie A side Inter Milan endured another embarrassing weekend following a 1-1 draw with bottom-of-the-table outfit Parma. Manager Roberto Mancini felt compelled to apologise to the supporters after another disappointing result, particularly when considering Inter were playing at home and against a Parma side doomed to relegation.

“I’m sorry that the situation, instead of improving, has worsened. You always hope that things will change. The last four weeks have been very bad, especially in terms of the results and also because of the second half performance (against Parma). These are things that I cannot explain. We played without bite, without malice and that’s something I do not like,” said the former Manchester City boss.

It was Inter’s fifth league game without a win, threatening to see them slip even further in the standings to perhaps finish the season in the bottom-half of the table. They did threaten a resurgence in February, winning three games on the bounce in the division, but were forced into cancelling their Easter break in lieu of extra training after the unacceptable result against a Parma team riddled with problems and struggling to survive as an entity.

Sporting director Piero Ausilio was present at training, and confirmed that the players were brought in to work on finishing the season as strongly as possible. Many fans and followers are worried about the direction the club is currently headed in, and Mancini has certainly been given a rude awakening in his second stint as Inter’s boss. Ausilio also had some strong words for any of the players not pulling their weight, suggesting their days at the club will be numbered in the summer if they fail to perform.

“No rest at Easter? The players have rested the day before the match, so it is right that they train (on Sunday). We are working towards the future and these last nine games will help of all us judge and understand who is an Inter player and who isn’t. If they want to wear this shirt, then they can’t fail at San Siro. It’s our home, with our public and we shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. (San Siro) should be something that is in our favour, we are not going to duck our responsibilities,” he said.

Inter Milan are currently 9th in the table, with 38 points from 29 games. They are 11 points off a top-four spot in the standings, but could find themselves in the bottom-half of the league if they continue to drop points at this troubling rate. Manager Roberto Mancini is likely to perform an overhaul of his squad at the end of the campaign, as Inter appear to be in the midst of an endless slump.

Can they rise again next season?