Ok, if you clicked on the title hoping for some weird muscle porn, sorry to disappoint you. Try google.
This is a look at the re-emergence of the 7 sisters of Serie A (with just one change from last century - Napoli have replaced Parma) and analyse their paper strength. There have been a lot of discussions/statements in various threads this season of what expectation is fair from Inter and for other clubs. I guess it boils down to two questions:
1. Which club has invested into their squad the most? - this defines what expectation is fair.
2. Are they performing as per that expectation this season?
So lets take a look at the facts.
1. Average Transfer Spend:
One way to judge who should have the best squad is to look at the money each club has spend in the transfer market. Squads are built over years, perhaps 3-10 years in most cases, so looking at one transfer window does not give us a good picture. So I looked over the last 5 seasons, to calculate what the 7 sisters spent on an average per season:
Juventus and Roma have clearly spent serious money in the transfer market over the last 5 years. They should have the best squads. Followed by Napoli, Inter and Milan in that order. So if this is a good measure of what squad strength should be, then a fair expectation for this Inter is a 4th place finish.
But looking at (just) what you spend (in isolation) is not always the best indicator. Because you might be spending big only because you are selling big, which may not improve your squad...
2. Average Net Spend on Transfers:
So lets take a look at what is the net amount each club invested on transfers over the last 5 seasons, i.e. the money invested on top of what we make from player sales:
The above may surprise some people here. Inter are 5th in terms of average net spend - basically we have spend only 7m pa of additional money on transfers to improve the squad. Juve & Napoli are the big spenders of Serie A. Followed by Roma and Milan. Inter are way behind alongside Lazio for the 5th-6th place. Fiorentina have actually made money from transfers. If this is any indication, then our expectation should be top 6, not top 3.
3. Number of coaches:
However, we need to factor in the change in direction a club makes. Every new coach means some of that investment will be wasted to change playets to suit his tactics. I am not talking about interim coach changes, but each permanent coach change means that some of the money was wasted to swap players rather than improve the squad. Lets look at who made the most changes in directions during this period (no surprise here):
So Inter have spent less money even after having made the most coach changes. A similar case can be made for Milan. Maybe some of the fans expectations at these two clubs are unrealistic or at least unfair?
4. Wage bill:
However, transfer fee alone does not fully indicate the investment in quality... sometimes you get a lot of free transfers or loans which improve the squad as well. So another good indicator of squad strength on paper is the wage bill, as that takes into account the market rate of free transfers and loans. So lets take a look at the current wage bill:
Inter are still 4th, behind Juventus, Roma and Milan.
So based on all the above investment figures in fees/wages, if a neutral was to set expectations for clubs, they would roughly be:
Top 3: Juventus, Roma, Napoli
4th - 5th: Inter, Milan
6th - 7th: Lazio, Fiorentina
Now lets take a look at the Serie A table after round of 16:
A few observations:
1. The few people here who want Mancini to be sacked if we don't finish in the top 3, maybe now you realise why you sound fucking crazy to most of us?! From the investments we have made into our squad, we cannot have such high "minimum expectations". Not yet at least.
2. There was a lot of criticism of Fiorentina after the loss at Juventus. Lets get real - Fiorentina are performing well above their expectations, just like Inter. Just look at the numbers above, they are actually a very well run club.
3. Napoli (and now Juve, who are fast doing back to their rightful place) are doing as per expectation. These clubs should finish in the Top 3, anything less than that will be a big fail for them.
4. Roma are the big under performers of Serie A. Such huge investments made over the last 5 seasons (and even before that), and yet shite to show for it. If any coach needs to be sacked (for not finishing in the Top 3 at the end of this season), its Garcia... Hopefully, we can steal their Top 3 spot this season.
5. Milan are under-performing as well, but only slightly. People usually complain that Berlusconi has stopped investing into the team, and while that is true as compared to the glory days of the past, its not been as bad as its made out. Milan have invested into the team at around the same level as Inter over the last 5 seasons, so they have few excuses. That said, anyone in Milan expecting a "minimum Top 3 finish" is expecting a bit too much too soon. The par for Milan should be a Top 5 spot, and I think Miha should be able to achieve that by end of the season, if given a proper chance.
6. Finally, the most important point. We fans do not give enough credit to Inter management for the performances or quality of squad this season. It has been achieved with much less investment than our nearest competitors. So Thohir, Mancini, Ausilo, etc deserve more respect from us.