Tag Archives: zanetti

Inter Tinkers with their Manager… Again

Gasperini: Don't look back in anger

It took five matches for Internazionale to fire Gian Piero Gasperini… the fifth manager to leave the club in three years.  But only in the world of sport does a organization hire its leaders from a steady pool of failures.

The rumours are that Claudio “The Tinkerman” Ranieri has been given a two-year contract to take over from Gasperini.  No stranger to football’s revolving door, Ranieri has managed 10 teams over the last 20 years; this will be his seventh Serie A club. In that time, he has only won two major trophies: a Coppa Italia with Fiorentina… and a Copa del Rey with Valencia.  Yet this is the man who has allegedly been chosen to lead one of the biggest clubs in the world.

Inter fans and management must be perturbed that their recent domination of Italian football has come to a jarring and screeching halt.  Long known as “the other Milanese club”, i Nerazzurri shook off its inferiority complex by winning five consecutive Serie A titles under Roberto Mancini and José Mourinho, topping off the run by winning the quadruple: the league title, the Coppa Italia, the Supercoppa, as well as being crowned both European and world champions… defeating mighty Barcelona along the way.  Life was good for Inter Milan. Then Rafael Benitez arrived.

Rafageddon unleashed again

Sure, Rafa led them to a World Club Championship. But they did it by beating club teams from South Korea and the Congo… one of the poorest nations in the world.  Not so fast, cry Inter fans.  They beat the world’s best to get there.  But Rafa’s infernal reputation of maniacal stubbornness is well deserved, and it didn’t sit well with the club’s superstars.  By Christmas, Inter would be down by 11 points from their San Siro rivals and Benitez was shown the door.  He has yet to manage in a single match since.

While not a bad choice, the Spaniard’s replacement was perhaps difficult for Inter fans to accept.  Not only did Leonardo play over a hundred matches for hated AC… he was also part of the Brazilian team that beat Italy at the Rose Bowl in 1994.  No matter: the new gaffer lead Inter on a run that pulled them to the brink of another championship.  But in the end, the club failed to defend the league, and were laughed out of Europe by a mediocre German side. While Inter managed to hold onto the Coppa, the writing was on the wall.  Leonardo left Italy for the bright lights — and a big pay cheque — in Paris.

Enter Gasparini and an immediate cloud of suspicion. Rumours abounded that the former Genoa gaffer was only chosen because others refused the job.  Fabio Capello is still under contract to the England FA.  Young Andres Villas-Boas snapped at the chance to manage Cha-ching! Chelsea, after only one season at Porto.  Even Marcelo Bielsa followed up Chile’s impressive display at last year’s World Cup by signing up to manage the Spanish powerhouse… of Athletic Bilbao.

It all must have been secretly humiliating for owner Massimo Moratti.  If it was, it only got worse as the season got underway.  After succumbing to their hated rivals in the SuperCoppa, Inter emerged from the one-week players’ strike to lose to up-and-coming Palermo… one of the teams leading a Southern renaissance in Italian football.  That was followed by a CL league loss (at home!) to Turkish side Trabzonspor, who weren’t even supposed to be there.  A draw against Roma might have been acceptable, if it was not for a humiliating defeat Tuesday night to newly-promoted Novara.  Gasperini uscita… Ranieri entri.

Zanetti: Is it exit time for Inter's Iron Man?

There are some — including the Guardian’s Jonathan Wilson — who argue that Moretti should never have hired Gasperini… not because he is a bad manager, but because his system doesn’t gel with Inter’s squad.  Gasperini favours variations of 3-4-3.  But at Inter, that meant using an ancient back-five of Samuel, Lucio, Maicon, Cambiasso and Zanetti as defensive anchors (the average age of the South Americans is 33).  Gasperini let his fullbacks roam just behind the wingers, and the aforementioned central players like to play up-field…. leaving Inter vulnerable on the counter.  Consequently, ball after ball has gone sailing over the heads of the defenders, with only an increasingly erratic Julio Cesar to stop it.

Offensively, the club is only marginally better off.  The “Will He Leave, Won’t He Leave” speculation surrounding Wesley Sneijder had to have been a distraction, considering the Dutchman’s pivotal role in the formation.  Plus, the fiasco signing of cup-tied Diego Forlan from Atletico Madrid is unforgivable.  If you believe in omens, it does not portend well for The Big Grass Snake.

Obviously, the scudetto is still too young to start picking out trends.  But with non-traditional leaders like Palermo, Napoli, Fiorentina and Udinese continuing where they left off last season, Inter may have to look deep within itself and try to decide what it needs to do to turn itself around.  Ranieri will likely perturb players with his constant manipulation of the side, not unlike Benitez.  We will see if The Tinkerman soothes or chafes raw egos at the club.

From my perspective, Inter fans can take solace in two things:

1) Super Sneijder and Forlan seem to be developing an understanding, despite the recent run of form.  Both players were magnificent in South Africa, with Forlan leading what could be considered South America’s new powerhouse.  If they can get service, look out.

2) AC Milan is only playing marginally better, stealing a draw last week against Barcelona in the CL.  Italy’s axis of power may be shifting.

Brent Lanthier

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Filed under Champions League, Copa America, Serie A, World Cup

Even better than the real thing?

Hadi Zogheib

Following Tuesday’s announcements of preliminary squads for World Cup teams, there is no doubt anger from various couch potato managers around the globe. Some are unhappy with players who were included, while other will be upset by the rejects, a talented group now set for a summer stuck at home. In honour of all those armchair managers who think they know best, I’ve come up with a list of the 23 top World Cup rejects:


Sebestian Frey (France – Fiorentina): A model of consistency, one of Serie A’s best keepers year in and out

Diego Lopez (Spain – Villareal): Usually Spain’s number 3, was usurped by Barca’s Victor Valdes this year. Would be a number 1 or 2 on most national teams.

Andres Palop (Spain – Sevilla): Is it me or does Spain have way too many great keepers? Must be something in the water.

A superb season with Inter wasn’t enough to get Zanetti to South Africa.


Javier Zanetti (Argentina – Inter): Far and away the biggest shock of all. Having an unbelievable season. Is arguably the most consistent performer on one of Europe’s best teams.

Gary Neville (England – Manchester United): Not the most popular player in England, but his experience would be invaluable in the biggest tournament on Earth.

Nicola Legrottaglie (Italy- Juventus): A victim of numbers. Italy has many great defenders and there was no room for him. Not a bad reserve on my team, though.

Gabriel Milito (Argentina – Barcelona): Coming back from a horrific spate of injuries that sidelined him for months, is back to his best form. A mistake by Maradona to omit one of Messi’s best buddies.

Joleon Lescott (England – Manchester City): Again, the result of being the odd man out on a team with too many good defenders. Strong and good in the air.

Marco Materazzi (Italy – Inter): Who else is going to complement the opposing star’s sister?


Samir Nasri (France – Arsenal):Great in possession. Can play either on the wing or in the middle.

Esteban Cambiasso (Argentina – Inter): Was much better all season than Maradona’s captain, Javier Mascherano. Deserves to be in South Africa.

Diego (Brazil – Juventus): Creative midfielder would be on any other squad except Brazil’s.

Ever Banega (Argentina – Valencia): Young, fast, can tackle, pass, and shoot. One of Valencia’s stars this season.

Francesco Totti (Italy – Roma): Can play up front or just behind the forwards. Just too talented to be omitted by Lippi.

Mikel Arteta  (Spain – Everton): Once again, the victim of coming from a country that is so deep in talent. Would walk onto most squads in the world.

Owen Hargreaves (England – Manchester United): We had to include one Canadian, didn’t we?

Two-time Player of the Year Ronaldhino isn’t wanted by Brazil.


Pato (Brazil – AC Milan): One of the best in Europe. Didn’t fit with coach Dunga’s system.

Lisandro Lopez (Argentina – Lyon): Voted France’s best club player this year. Far more consistent than Ezequiel Lavezzi, who Maradona chose instead.

Ronaldinho (Brazil – AC Milan): Two-time World Player of the Year is another victim of Dunga’s counterattacking system.

Antonio Cassano (Italy – Sampdoria): One of Italy’s most talented players, but a controversial figure in the locker room.

Karim Benzema (France – Real Madrid): Incredible talent, but judged to have not received enough playing time to garner a call up.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy (Netherlands – Hamburg): Maybe a little old, but would be great coming off the bench in the final ten minutes when his team needs a goal.

Fabrizio Miccoli (Italy – Palermo): Nineteen goals for Palermo this season. Never stops running.

Starting eleven:


Neville, Lescott , Milito, Zanetti

Arteta, Cambiasso, Banega


Benzema, Lopez


Filed under World Cup