In my previous blog I laid out in relative detail what I believed were some of the major problems at Inter Milan at the moment. The club is plagued by uncertainty at the board and coaching level, a transfer policy that changes every time a new coach is appointed, leaving a squad bloated by players who no longer fit the coaches system; and there has been a chronic lack of faith in young players which has led to highly talented men being sold for low prices and excelling elsewhere, often directly at Inter Milan’s expense. With the advent of Financial Fair Play it is essential that Inter start to get their house in order or they risk getting left behind not only at the Champions League table, where it is already evident that Inter cannot compete with England, Germany and Spain’s top team financially, but also in Italy, where Juventus is already clearly out in front and Milan, Roma, Napoli and Fiorentina have shown they are learning lessons faster than the Nerazzurri. In this second part of my blog on Inter Milan I will outline several things that I believe the club can do in order to not just return to the top of the Italian pile but also the European one.
The Glory Years. If Inter are to return to winning ways, Changes must be made.
Create an ‘Inter way’: Under the Moratti era the club has seen both historic success and extended periods of monumental failure. There have been numerous coaches each bringing their own philosophy, record transfers being paid for world stars, most from Moratti’s own pocket, various tactical systems and large numbers of young players who usually fail to make a dent in the first team. It has been a real rollercoaster in keeping with the history of the club. With Financial Fair Play however, it is time to bring stability. I believe the club need to establish an ‘Inter way’, a style of play and system that reflects the history and feel of the club. This style or system of play should be implemented not just in the first team but in all youth teams, creating a uniform way of playing that will become the signature of Inter. The benifits of this are massive and include:
Coaching: The cost of recruiting coaches, having them implement their own new system, forcing the players to adapt to the system, having players who do not fit this style and recruiting new players needed to play a new way are massive. Should Inter have a standard way of playing any coach bought in, although able to express his own intepretation of it, would need to play inside the general guidelines of the ‘Inter way’. It would also mean, as Barcelona have successfully demonstrated, that coaches can be bought through the ranks, like players, once they are familiar with the ‘Inter way’.
Transfers: With a consistant playing system, recruitment becomes much easier. Players with the required characteristics can be identified and bought in without fear of a new coach changing the system dramatically and demanding a host of new players. Because there would be less need to completely overhaul the squad every year the recruitment team would be able to focus on picking out specific players of exceptional quality to take the team to the next level.
Youth: With a consistant system being introduced through all levels, youth to senior, the transition from the youth ranks to the senior team will become much more fluid. Young players will not have to learn a new system and will simply be able to slot into their position on the field. Because of this less money will need to be invested in bringing in players from the outside.
The creation of an ‘Inter way’ does not mean that everything is set in stone. The coaches can tweak the system of play each season to ensure it remains fresh and suits the players strengths and any innovation that is occuring in football. It simply means that if a new coach comes it they do not simply erase everything the previous manager has done and try to reinvent the wheel. The dangers of this can be seen with the short Benetiz reign, where he came in and tried to stamp his mark on Mourinho’s historic team by demanding a new style of play not suited to his players qualities. The players struggled to adapt, did not suit this style and the team languished.
NextGen Winners: Inter need to fully utilise the talent in their Academy if they are to compete on the biggest stages.
Professionalise the club: One of the charming aspects of Inter is the family vibe it puts out. The Moratti family has a number of members directly involved in the running of the club and Massimo Moratti is the man who makes the final call on most important decisions. This family feel gives the club a cosy, almost local feel to it. Supporters feel like it is their club and that is special. Unfortunately however with Financial Fair Play coming in things have to change. As a fan, Moratti has made a number of decisions based on his heart. An example of this was the holding together of the team that won the Champions League, despite a number of big money offers for some of the players who were moving toward the twilight of their careers. It is almost as if Moratti kept the team together as a reward to the players for doing so well. This decision not to cash in ending up costing Inter massively over the following seasons. Players motivation levels dropped, injuries became more and more common, and many players found themselves past their peak and on a slippery slope. With Moratti no longer able to keep chipping in millions of his own money to buy players there needs to be a more professional attitude bought into the running of the club. Someone needs to be making the tough calls without having the emotional connection that Moratti clearly does. I believe that Moratti should remain as President but this roll should not carry as much weight. Instead the Managing Director should be running the club and making the business decisions. Making sure that the tough decisions get made and the club is running as smoothly as it can. The model for this is Juventus, probably Italy’s best run club, corruption aside. They have managed to come back from being relegated and losing most of their best players. to being the top side in Italy once more with the best squad, all within only a few years. They also boast a much higher revenue and global appeal than any of their rivals, as well as an impressive new stadium which they own. In the process of re-establishing themselves they have made many tough decisions; letting go of club legend Del Piero and selling players who had helped re-establish them but were no longer part of the vision. Tough decisions that Inter may not have made because of nostalgia.
Massimo Moratti: The beating heart of Inter but sometimes fails to make the tough decisions on sentimental grounds.
A new stadium: In order to compete with the big clubs in Europe, Inter need to build their own stadium. The San Siro is an iconic, and massive, stadium but it is only rented and this lack of ownership see millions of euros that could be going into Inter’s coffers, being lost. It is also shared with arch rivals Milan. Should Inter get their own stadium they can begin to reconstruct the Inter identity. The stadium can become an intergral part of who Inter are. Think Old Trafford and Man United, Camp Nou and Barcelona. The San Siro is iconic in its own right but it is also part Red and Black.
The San Siro: An iconic stadium but just as much Milan as Inter.
Renewed focus on scouting the worlds top talent: With the Premier League, Bundesliga, PSG, Real Madrid and Barcelona drawing in ever increasing amounts of money, and the emerging powers of Eastern Europe, including Russia and Ukraine cashed up by monumentally wealthy individuals or companies, the ability of Inter, and most Italian clubs will be greatly diminished. Iti s therefore very vital that Inter become a key destination for the talented youth of the world. The reputation of the club is key to this. Young players will be drawn to a club of Inter’s standing, giving us something of an advantage over many others. We must however, actually do some real scouting, not just try to sign any young players who happens to get their own video on You Tube. It is vitally important that the club cease their current policy of diluting the playing squad with players who are not much more than average and do not have the potential to be much more than that.
I believe that following these steps will bring Inter back to where they belong. By creating a system that suits the clubs history and squad, recruiting coaches who will develop this system, streamlining the system through the youth setup, you create the opportunity for a legacy, without spending the massive amounts needed to keep up with the richest clubs on the continent. Inter need to become smarter and better organised or they risk falling away as a European Power for the forseeable future.
Mateo Kovacic is a player Inter can build a team around, more players of his age and quality must be invested in.
Side note: In regards to the tactical system I would like to see Inter focus on the 4-3-2-1 model, which can be switched to a 4-3-1-2 should the need develop or even a 4-4-2 if opponents are commanding the wide areas. For me this system represents what Inter are to me, solid through the centre, utilising either two playmakers behind a strong central striker, or one playmaker behind two strikers. Inter has never been a club that has had much success with wingers and I think we should move away from this. If we have a deep lying playmaker, Kovacic looks to be developing into this roll well, an aggressive ball winner and a box to box style midfielder, the midfield would have the balance, security and dynasism to dominate. In front of them should be two technical players who can roam in the free space, pull wide to support the fullbacks and support the striker. The striker himself should be strong and technical and a deadly finisher, in the mould of Milito or Vieri. I Believe using this general system as a basis for the future will return Inter to the top of the pile and set it on course for a bright future competeing with the best for trophies.