So the season has come to an end, and once again we are the big losers of the season. Well, considering how we started off our season, this was rather expected. In this article, I will break down on parts of this season that made us finish fourth and not even close to competing for the Scudetto.
Cuper is sacked!
Only a few games into the season, and two negative results, we are left with the news that Hector Cuper had been fired. It was after a draw against Brescia that he was fired. Obviously, the real reason he was fired was because of the derby loss.
I just as most people, were pissed off with Cuper after the numerous of negative results in the derbies.
Irregardless of this, firing Cuper was the first reason for why this season had disaster written on it. When was the last time that firing a coach has meant that the team has improved and won something the same year? I canīt say when at all.
It had season 98/99 and 00/01 all written on it. When we fire the coach immediately into the season, and we see a small effect at first, but then it all crashes and burns.
Was firing Cuper the right choice? I would say no, because we had bought players made for his system and he was still trying to adapt players into that system. It was obvious that if we had fired him, that some of these players would become out of favour for whomever that would replace him.
For a more analyze of this firing, read this article: Cuper fired - The analysis
Alberto Zaccheroni is hired!
As an interim coach? No, of course not. Inter sign Zaccheroni for two years and show clearly that our future are supposed to be with him. When will Inter learn to try and sign contracts with coaches that are not of the world-class quality? We did the same thing with Tardelli.
Zac did started off in an amazing way with Inter, and for this he deserves a lot of credit. He immediately changed the system at Inter into a 3-4-3 and it would be the end of some of our players. Luciano was the first one to go, because he just got to play the Coppa Italia and one sub against Reggina. Luciano was never given a decent chance to make an impact at Inter.
Otherwise, the first three players I thought of when I heard Zacs name, was Van der Meyde, Kily and Helveg.
I was expecting that Van der Meyde and Kily would be harmed by his arrival, and that Helveg would be the new favourite pet. I was wrong about one thing. And that was that Kily would lose his place in the team. On the contrary, Kily has this season been among those who has played the most. Heīs even been preferred to play as a central midfielder several times.
Van der Meyde on the other hand, has been a sad story. Perhaps the biggest signing we did during the summer, but also the biggest flop. It is really difficult to blame it on Van der Meyde, since he has never been given a fair chance with Zac. Even though Zac started off with a flanked forward system, Van der Meyde was rarely given a chance to play as a right flanked forward. He was either benched or played on the left flank.
Van der Meyde did screw his chances when he went out in media and criticised the amount of playing time he had been received. What he should have realised is that Zac would from then on, only give him one more chance to prove himself and if he didnīt take it, heīd never play again. And that was exactly what happened, and on top of that, Zac played him more or less as a pure striker.
Then we have Helveg. A decent back-up that was being praised when Cuper was in charge, because he did a good job as a back-up. Zac takes over and start fielding Helveg week in and week out, and obviously, Helvegīs lack of skills these days would be visible. We saw how Zanetti was shifted from each positions to fit Helveg in the line-up, and now Helveg was seen more as a burden than as a good back-up.
This we can not blame on Helveg. Itīs entirely Zacīs fault for fielding a player who it was a long time ago, he was world-class. Helveg is a good back-up and if we do extend his contract, then I better hope we do it with the intention of using him as a depth player.
Introducing Zac meant the most for one player in particular. A player who had never performed for Inter before, even though he was given a consistent run at his first season. Iīm of course talking about Francisco Farinos. He was still training with Inter, since we hadnīt been able to release him somewhere when Cuper was still around. So when Zac took over, in the first game, we could see Farinos being called up. Then as time went by, Farinos started to make some subs and then he was a starter as well. And we got to be honest and say that Farinos has exceeded any possible expectations. I thought we had seen him for the last time, and judging by his earlier performances with Inter, I was worried to see him playing for us.
But Farinos definitely had a good season with Inter, even though we could have wished for more consistency. But Farinos isnīt a world-class player, and shouldnīt be considered as one either. He did a great job as a depth player and that he should deserve some credit for.
What positive things did Zac bring to this team? Well, personally the three-men defence was a nice feature in this team. Although, Materazzi screwed up and we rarely saw the dream three-men defence play, we still played this scheme. We did it perhaps in the worst possible way, with such quality players that it makes me depressed. It was evident that Zac rarely practised defensive movements. Cordoba and Cannavaro ran around like head-less chickens at times, and we spent more time looking at the ball than covering players.
The one thing that Zac was never able to introduce to our defence, was to cover players when a pass is going back to a player in the penalty box.
But none the less, the three-men defence was a necessity this season with all the defenders we had available. But for next season, we should consider the four-men defence again, with or without Zac.
Which brings me to the next issue with Zac. There were some matches where he used the four-men defence. We know from the Cuper time that our players are completely capable of playing this scheme. But with Zac, they sucked beyond imagination. And once again, it was the movements that they couldnīt do. This is yet another proof that Zac rarely trained at defensive movements.
I think these issues were the biggest factors that was changed when we hired Zac.
I donīt know about you, but Iīve had the urge to throw my keyboard to the ground each time Iīve went to our official website and read our interviews. Injury this and injury that. Itīs supposed to be what caused this seasons failure. Excuse my language, but what a load of bullsh!t!
When has there ever been a season at Inter for the last ten years, where we havent had abnormal amount of injuries? But all of a sudden, now our coach can excuse himself by this after every negative result. I find it disgusting and appalling. Our coach has been given about 30 players at his disposal for the season. Which team and coach has this privilege?
And when we get some midfielders injured, this is apparently a big disaster. And here we have as back-ups players such as Lamouchi, Farinos and Karagounis. Id be very interested to know what Zac would say if he would coach a team like Empoli and have the same amount if injuries there. Because he surely wouldnīt have world-class players as back-ups.
Weīre spoiled with great players, but as soon as we get some regulars injured, we blame the reserves for the negative results. I simply and sick and tired of hearing Zacīs excuses, and the worst thing is that people have bought it! I can say with 99% certainty that if Zac hadnīt been able to fool the management that it was really the injuries that was the cause for this terrible season, that we would have announced a new coach by now.
Lippi, Tardelli and Cuper had all the same amount of injury problems when they coached Inter. They didnīt complain about it.
Zac has said during the season that Inter shouldnīt be judged when they havenīt a full squad. Stupidest thing Iīve ever heard and is even worse than when he blamed the weather for losing to Lecce. No team in this world can have a full squad for every game. And no team in this world, has such depth as Inter.
If Iīm going to have to endure one more season hearing these injury excuses, Iīm going to be sick!
Winter Transfer Market
Inter has been seen as cheaters by some in this January transfer market that we had. Itīs well-known that Inter bought two players in that market. Those two were Adriano and Dejan Stankovic. Some claim that Inter were trying to make Parma and Lazio weaker by signing their key-players. Is that really the truth?
Letīs ponder about this for a second. Letīs start with the Adriano transfer Adriano had during the season made an incredible name of himself, and rumours were starting to spread out that other teams were interested in signing him. Chelsea and Milan among those two teams. It goes without saying that staying with Parma was no option. Could Inter risk losing such a great prospect that already now was one of the best strikers in Serie A? Of course not! Something had to be done and that fast, before Abramovich would show up with his huge wallet and snap up Adriano in front of Interīs face.
The winter market comes and Parma is hit by the Parmalat disaster. Even though with this disaster, Inter pays enormous amount of money to Parma to buy the 50% of Adriano. Why did Inter even sold half of Adriano to Parma in the first place? It beats me, but what I do know was that Parma earned about 15 million on Adriano in total. And weīre supposed to be ashamed of taking him back? If Inter had waited until June, the risk of a bidding war would have begun and starting a bidding war with Chelsea I like throwing away money to the sea. No matter how much we would have bided, Chelsea had the funds to top it. That is why we had to act fast and bought Adriano in January and not because to weaken Parma.
Then thereīs Dejan Stankovic. A player who would be a free agent this summer, but he, personally was desperate to leave in January to make Lazio some money. What would have happened if Inter hadnīt acted in January? Obviously, Stankovic would have been sold to another team.
And I like to point out that Stankovic gave his signing on fee to Lazio as a thank you and that it was him that stressed a transfer in January. He was going to leave in January, and since we wanted him, but the plans were to get him in June, we had to act in January.
Thatīs my impression of these so called controversial transfers anyway.
This season, there has been some players who has exceeded their expectations, and there has been some who has under-performed. Letīs start from the keepers:
Keepers: Our keepers this season has been Toldo and Fontana. Letīs start with Toldo. In my opinion, Toldo has perhaps had his worst Serie A season in ten years. The normally extremely secure keeper has made more blunders than ever. Toldo, whom was the first keeper that I felt 100% confidence in, has been scratched from that list. On the other hand, he has also saved our team so many times this season. Toldo is a keeper in both senses, and will hopefully improve for next season.
Unlike Toldo, Fontana has been perhaps our most consistent player this season. He has always rose to the occasion and been brilliant each time he has been given the chance. Fontana honestly deserve to be a first keeper, and if we really donīt extend his contract this summer and switch him with Belardi (Reggina), I really hope that he becomes a first keeper there.
Defenders: Iīve previously talked a lot about our defence for this season, but that was as a collective. Individually, Iīd like to say that none of our defenders has been doing what I had expected them to do. Not even my own favourite Cordoba, who has been under-performing this year. Still, he has in my opinion been the most valuable defender, based on his performances and playing time. He has been less consistent this season, which saddens me since he normally is among the best defenders in the world.
Then we have our second man-marker Cannavaro. Whom, I think is given ridiculous amount of crap from our fans. Cannavaro has never seemed popular among the Inter fans, which is a tiny bit understandable, but he isnt as bad as people make him out to be. This season, as last season, he was stopped by injuries. He never get to play 100%, which is a freaking shame. We got to give him credit for gritting his teeths and play even though he is in pain.
Materazzi. Deserves a big kick in the rear end. He was brilliant this season, but his antics off the field, destroyed it. Would have easily been a protagonist in this season, if it werenīt for his stupidity. What needs to be mentioned though, is the lack of respect he has received from non-Inter fans. Iīm not talking about his behaviour, but about him as a defender. Iīve heard such things that he plays aggressive to cover up for his lack of skills and such things. I find it remarkable that any football fan can watch Materazzi and not fail to see what a great defender he is.
But as long as he continue with his stupidity, he will risk being benched. Because that is what he deserves.
Then we have the big surprise of the season. Adani has really taken a big step in his career with this season. First time heīs been a starter for such a big team like Inter. Of course, he has Materazzi to thank for this, but Adani has done an awesome job as his deputy. When we signed Adani, we were criticised because it was doubtful that he would play any. Adanis first season was spoiled because of injuries, but in this season, Adani really has been an Inter player.
Heīs also been an important goal scorer for us. Too bad that he wasnīt called up for the Euro 2004. Injuries at the end of this season, made him not being able to impress Trap.
And quickly, letīs give a big thank you to Gamarra for these two seasons. No one can say he has disappointed anyone. Played very little compared to what he should do, but always done a tremendous job each time he has played. Now his contract has expired and we wish him the best of luck in his next team and hope that he gets more playing time. Grazie Gamarra!
Midfielders: This season, Inter has used wing-backs, which counts as midfielders. The player who has been most harmed by this formation is our own Il Capitano- Javier Zanetti. At his wing-back position he hasnīt been able to expose himself in the offensive way that we are used of. Heīs more been there as a defensive cover-up. I find this sad and a waste of perhaps the best player in the world when being played as a fullback.
On the other flank, weīve seen a player who has been used differently from his many years in Spain. Finally, Kily Gonzalez was an Inter player and now we expected his amazing crosses. Playing as a wing-back though, hasnīt made things easier for Kily when it comes to offence, since he also had to think about the defence. There was no Carboni behind him to cover up when he made his amazing runs.
But let us be honest here, and admit that when it comes to crosses, Kily failed this season. But he compensated this, with showing a fantastic attitude on the field, and Kily is one of the players that deserves the most credit in this seasons squad. He might not have contributed as much as he supposed to when it comes to offence, but he has fought. Kily should be kept for next season as well. But by the looks of it, we seem to plan to use a four-men defence and not a flat four-men midfield. So Kilyīs starting position is in doubt for next year.
If there is one player I am seemingly disappointed with this season, it is Emre. He has injuries as his excuse of course, but I have lacked movements in offence by him. I think he should take more risks than he does, and contribute even more outside of the penalty box. Emre is however our future, and by the looks of the transfer rumours that has started, we seem to look a player that plays Emreīs position. Scaring!
Positive thing is that Turkey doesnīt play the Euro 2004, so Emre has a whole summer to work to get back to fitness.
For almost six months, I was screaming for one player to be given the chance. And when he was given the chance, the man wasnīt scared of using it either. Iīm of course talking about Karagounis. Iīve rarely seen a player make such an impact when being given the chance. But for some reason, both Cuper and Zac refused to use him. Itīs an outrage of how little Karagounis was used this season. I had the privilege to go down to Milan and watch him play against Chievo and he was the best player on the field. Karagounis HAS to stay for yet another season, but I wonīt blame him if he wants to leave this team.
The player I have been the most disappointed with during the last two years is Cristiano Zanetti. I firmly believe that when we turned down Nesta to keep him, we did the right thing. Because at that time, Cristiano was among the best defensive midfielders in the world and we werenīt able to get someone better in that market. But after that, he has been under-performing. I consider Cristiano the weak link in a perfect formation with the right players on the field. Heīs the only player I could see being replaced with someone better. But once again, this market has very few alternatives. The biggest alternative is (or should I say was?) Emerson. But we are losing (lost) him to Juventus. Hopefully Cristiano has a great Euro 2004 and come back to Inter with regained confidence and perform like his first season with Inter after returning.
Mathias Almeyda is a player who has pissed me off bad this season with his behaviour. It started with his sending-off against Lazio which more or less cost us that game. The way he got sent off was the most childish Iīve ever seen.
Almeyda has also during this season said that he will retire from football and he got his contract with Inter shortened. And to my surprise (NOT!), when the end of the season approaches, he comes out and say that he will continue playing football. If you ask me, I believe Almeyda said that he will retire so he could become a free-agent this summer and leave Inter with ease. Almeyda has yet to extend his contract with Inter and I doubt he will.
But Almeydaīs game against Juventus will go down in history of one of the best individual performance made by a defensive midfielder, Iīve ever seen. I will reluctantly thank Almeyda for these two years. Heīs done okay.
Iīm especially disappointed with Lamouchi for this season. A player whom with Parma was awesome and always great in France as well. I thought we made a huge bargain by signing him, but he barely made a good match. His long passes was however a great weapon and sadly he was used at the wrong place at Inter. Iīm pretty sure Lamouchi will leave us now, and that kind of sucks, considering how good he really can be. But if Lamouchi actually has ambitions to be a starter, then he shouldnīt have joined Inter in the first place. Not even a Lamouchi on form can be a starter with the competition we have.
One can not forget to mention Stankovic whom was a transfer I saw as completely pointless. I will still remain with my opinion that Stankovic wasnīt needed. But he has done a good job. I wonīt say great, because Stankovic was really bad the first month for Inter. But what Stankovic has contributed to this team is a lot, especially when it comes to scoring goals from a midfielder. If we can create a scheme where Emre and Stankovic combines perfectly, then I will say that Stankovic was needed. Right now he is just a luxury to have as long as he continues to play like he has done for the last two months.
Strikers: Weīll start by mentioning the biggest one of them all at first. Christian Vieri, who has during this season been creating head-lines. But letīs start with his performances first. Vieri has been under-performing this season considering the previous seasons. He hasnīt seemed in balance and this has harmed his season. He has not been as efficient as before, but heīs been our best scorer this season, and that says a lot.
BUT!!!! after he refused the bench against Bologna, I can personally see him leave this summer due to his attitude. I would have wanted him to stay if he could accept a rotation role. Considering that he canīt, I think it will hurt the team to keep him. Vieri will probably stay, and I have mixed emotions of course. Although I hate the antics he made, heīs been a fantastic player for us for years now. Vieri will go to history in my eyes.
Julio Cruz might have had a worthless spring with us. But we shall not forget the months he was actually good with us. It was more than I expected when we signed him. Even when he doesnīt score, he still has the technical skills to contribute something to this team. Cruz did a good season with Inter, regardless of when he was good. Better than most expected.
Welcome back Adriano!!!!! He has surely been missed and I just curse our management for letting him go for money in the first place. He came back and has adapted to this team somewhat good. It seems as some people expected him to be our saviour, but failed to realise that it takes time to get adapted to a new team. But he made his marks and he scored 12 goals in total after returning. Remarkable, and now Iīm looking forward to see him next season when heīs completely adapted to this team.
Obafemi Martins made his first real season with Inter. He made it with mixed performances. Martins was the only one who managed to score in all competitions, but he still has so much to learn before becoming that world-class striker. You canīt live on your pace forever.
But for a first season ever in Serie A, he has done remarkably well.
But the best striker of this season for me goes to Recoba. He has sadly been more injured than fit this season, which has cost dearly. The consistency Recoba showed this season, we have never seen before. Just too bad he had to show that consistency when he barely played.
Iīve already mentioned a few players earlier. After this season I think we can wave good bye to Fontana, Gamarra, Brechet, Pasquale, Lamouchi, Almeyda, Okan, Van der Meyde and Kallon.
Interīs season can be described with one word: Disaster
At the end of the season, our goal was to finish fourth and it seemed we were really pleased with achieving it as well. I consider it a failure big time, especially when we werenīt even close of competing for the Scudetto. It gained us the fourth spot which is very important for us financially and for the importance of being among the big guns in Europe.
My personal opinion is that with Zac at the helm, we will be looking at a similar next season. We have witnessed how Zac can completely ignore great players and use favourites that doesnīt perform, and I doubt this will change.
Thanks for reading