A lot has been said of Mancio's claim about targeting a top 3 finish. Looking at the table, it looks very unlikely. We are 8 points behind Lazio & Napoli, both of which in good form. Plus we are 11th in the table, and other 3rd place hopefuls like Milan and Fiorentina are also ahead of us.
8 points are possible to recover if you have only one team ahead of you. Because that team may lose form. But when you have 8 teams between you and that 3rd spot, 8 points are huge, almost impossible - all these clubs will not screw up.
But maybe Mancini has given this some thought. Two quick moves in the market (Podolski & Shaqiri) are more significant than usual. A quick look at our fixtures in Jan and Feb makes this obvious:
Week 18: Inter vs Genoa
Week 19: Empoli vs Inter
Week 20: Inter vs Torino
Week 21: Inter vs Sassuolo
Week 22: Inter vs Palermo
Week 23: Atalanta vs Inter
Week 24: Cagliari vs Inter
These are all winnable games. Mancini wanted his wingers asap, so that he can prepare for a small winning run here. If we can get 17-19 of the next 21 points, then 3rd place may not look so impossible.
A quick analysis of how I think other key competitors will do over the next 7 weeks:
So if we can get about 19 of the next 21 points, I think we will be in the Top 5 by end of Feb, and about 3-5 points from the 3rd CL spot, with 14 games to go. Then 3rd spot may look possible. From then on, we have a tougher run with a lot of head to head with direct competitors, but if we can get a good run in the next 7 weeks, then we will face the likes of Fiorentina (week 25) and Napoli (week 26) with confidence.
So it is critical for us to get a nice little winning run going now, and looking at our fixtures, it is possible. Inter have made a great start by hiring Shaqiri and Podolski quickly. Now its time to convert this into points.
Either way, we will know by end of Feb whether a 3rd place spot is possible.