Okay, here are the rules: Johonna and I are reviewing the players' performance over this past season. Her comments are in this color. Mine are in regular type.
These are the ratings and they are really self explanatory.
>3ish: What's less than crap?
3ish: Crap. Doo doo. Kaka.
4ish: Not good enough. Eject or sell ASAP, please.
5ish: Average. In this case, average is not acceptable. Average is mid-table.
6ish: Just acceptable
This is all about the midfielders, the engine and the creative center of our team. Next up, the forwards.
Stankovic: 29 Serie A appearances, 1 Coppa Italia, 12 Champions League (14 yellow cards).
I like Deki. I like him a lot. Which is a good thing because he just signed a contract extension through 2014. He may not be a Wesley Sneijder, but he does provide cover for the one we have. Plus, you just never do know when he is going to pull of one of those trademark drives from outside the box (or way way outside the box). Overall, I think his Champions League performance was better than his Serie A games, but given our grueling schedule, I cant really fault him for focusing a bit harder on that tournament. Overall, he may not have that wow-factor, but I think he is a stalwart work horse, a professional, if you will. I think it speaks well of him that I cant remember screaming his name in frustration at my tv set at all this season. Also, for some reason, many of my non-footie-fan friends (boys and girls) think he is the cutest on the team (and he does look nice in a flag). That is worth at least a point, dont you think?
Dejan Stankovic: My general feeling regarding Stankovic is that he took a dip in form from last season. Last season, he made everyone – including me - who thought he was washed up stand up and take notice that he was still a good player as a fixture at the attacking midfielder position. This season there was much more spot duty as a left or right midfielder. He did have his moments though. He played in every Champions League game except the one that he was suspended for. He made goals that saved our skins in the Rubin and Kyiv draws. He makes 30 meter bombs here and there during the season but he’s missed several that he was put through on goal. 6.5
Quaresma: 11 Serie A appearances, 2 champions league (1 yellow card)
Oh poor Ricky. To tell you the truth, I was really surprised to see that he actually made it to the pitch 13 times. My only really clear memory of him was that magical Fiorentina game... 74 minutes of brilliance only to injure himself and be out for a month. He made some other appearances, but the only full game he played was against Livorno. And he was pretty good there, too. Still, other times, he was completely forgettable. Interestingly enough, the fans gave him an average rating of 8.47 for his 48 minutes against Catania. I didn't see that game (I couldn't bear to watch it) but that is really unusual considering we lost the game. The big question is, is Quaresma really terrible or did he just not fit into Mou's system? I am sure he is on his way out, new coach or no. Poor Ricky... I wonder what went wrong.
Grade: 5 ( I so wanted him to be better)
Ricardo Quaresma: Ricardo has been hailed by Mourinho as being a great practice player but like last season there just hasn’t been any real difference made in a game. Ricardo had a great game against Fiorentina but he got injured and had to spend a long time on the table. Unfortunately, the height that Ricardo hit that game died all alone when the season ended. He was average at best for the rest of his playing time, and he really stunk for the Roma game. He has good points, he pushes the ball forward and he puts pressure on the oppositions defence. But nothing much happens when he gets the ball up the field, though. Personally, I would be happy to see him leave. 4.5
Thiago Motta: 26 Serie A appearances, 5 Coppa Italia, 8 Champions League (12 yellow cards, 1 red card).
To tell you the truth, I really didn't know what to expect of him at the beginning of the season. I know that he was much loved at Genoa, but aside from that, nada. I am sorta still not sure about him. When he was on, he was a great asset to the team (like in the first Milan derby). During the pregame buildup for the Champions League final, some of the pundits even suggested that Inter would miss Thiago Motta more than Bayern would Ribery. Still, I have so little recollection of him as a player it makes me wonder just how fab he really was for the majority of the time. Either that, or he was just injured so much it was hard for him to make an impact on the season. Hmmm. A puzzlement.
Grade: 6? (he just seemed so largely absent, but I am open to a higher mark)
Thiago Motta: The hi’s with Thiago were better and more plentiful than the lows. He played 26 games during the championship and 3 of those were for less than 20 minutes. He really came on around March and showed himself to be a really valuable asset to the team. I thought that Thiago and Cambiasso made a great midfield pairing when we switched to the 4231 formation. Thiago became a deep playmaker that worked well with Maicon and Wesley while working the ball up the field. 7.0
Sneijder : 26 Serie A appearances, 4 Coppa Italia, 11 Champions League (8 yellow cards, 2 red cards).
First, I will admit I was hard on Sneijder last summer. He was waffling about joining Inter and I figured that if he didn't want us then to hell with him. Well, I will now eat my hat because I just love Sneijder - head over heals. Yep, from that first derby when he stepped off the plane and into Inter history with that 0-4 drubbing, he has been a special favorite of mine. Really, I dont think he put a foot wrong all season. Sure, he was stupidly sent off against Milan, but I can hardly blame him for that. I think everyone was shocked that he got a straight red for clapping. And as good as he was in League play, he was even better in the Champions League. Other players have more assists and more goals, but Wes was there when it really mattered. There is just no way that Inter would have accomplished what they did without this man. Simple as that. From his amazing free kicks, his preternatural spacial awareness, to that magnificent assist in the final, he has helped elevate Inter's play tremendously. I like this guy so much that I did something I have never done before - I bought his national team jersey (up til now, I have only ever bought Inter jerseys). He says he will stay another year at least, and I can hardly wait to see him play next year. Really, he makes me so happy that it is almost wrong.
Grade: 9.5 (He gets a half-point bump for pledging to stay next season)
(seriously, though, I think these videos may be my new happy place)
(Sneijder and Duran Duran - it is like I have died and gone to heaven)
Wesley Sneijder: We’ve come a long way from the Schmujko days, that’s for sure. I said it then and I’ll say it again that I was wrong about him. Of all the new players brought in this season – and they were all, to a man, very good – Wes made the biggest difference on the team. He brought a dimension to the team that we had been looking for, that we thought that Ricardo was going to bring. What’s the difference between Wes and Ricardo? Wes put pressure on the opposition and scored @10 goals in all competitions this season. Ricardo? Nothing. 8.0
Muntari: 27 Serie A appearances, 5 Coppa Italia, 9 Champions League (10 yellow cards, 1 red)
Of all Inter's players, I think Muntari gets the worst rap. One wonders if he is really even quite up to snuff. Especially when he has the potential to do so much damage in so little time. Still, I dont think Muntari is necessarily a bad player, I just think sometimes he overreaches his skill level. On the positive side, I like his heart. I like that even though he sometimes makes mistakes, he doesn't let that get him down. He gets up, brushes himself off, and tries to make things right. You watch, when he loses possession, he will do whatever it takes to get that ball back. Unfortunately for us, sometimes what it takes is a bookable foul. I also like his personality. He seems like a generally cheerful sort of fellow off the pitch while on it he is always all about the team. He may move on this summer, but then again, he just may stay, and I think I would be happy either way.
Sulley Muntari: Even though there are plenty of people who don’t think that Muntari was very good this season – and I am one of them – I still think that he provides a very important function on the team. When Inter are up by a point he is the perfect substitute. I don’t think that Sulley had that many bad games. I think that Catania was an epic fail and he didn’t start the season very strong. But other than those two games I can’t think of too many games in which Sulley was the worst player. I hope that he comes back next season and I hope that he plays better. 5.5
Krhin: 5 Serie A appearances (no cards).
I like this kid, and not only because he (like Belec) has cheekbones that could cut glass, but because I really think he has a bright future. He is a mere tiny little baby and he is already a full international and may be going to the world cup. Sure, we haven't seen a whole lot of him this season, but I what I did see, I liked. There has been some talk about Krhin leaving the club this summer, most recently he has been linked to Napoli. Where this to be a loan, I would be all for it. I would hate to have a repeat of the whole Bonucci fiasco with this kid. Sure, he needs playing time, but instead of using Inter's promising young players as discount coupons, we should be grooming them to take over as the next generation for the squad. Anyway, I would really like to see what Rene could do with more minutes under his belt. I have high hopes.
Grade: s.v. (although I should give him a 7 like Belec for being so darned cute).
Rene Krhin: Rene made exactly 5 appearances and in only 1 game did he play more than 20 minutes and that was nearly 50 minutes. The other 4 games went like this: 4 minutes, 4 minutes, 9 minutes and 19 minutes. In all of those games though, he played pretty well. He’s green and a little gawky still but I really like watching him. He looked like he had a lot of energy and I like his passing ability. He’s very much a junior Cambiasso and I am praying like hell that he stays. On the other hand, if he has to be transferred out I am praying like hell that he only goes out on loan. He needs to play for us. 6
Mariga: 8 Serie A appearances, 2 Coppa Italia, 3 Champions Leage (1 yellow card)
Mariga is another player I struggle with assigning a grade for. He came to us during the winter market and I believe he is still co-owned with Parma. Mariga is a central midfield, who I guess was brought in to provide cover for Deki and Cuchu... I think. He only played two full games this season (Udinese v Inter and Inter v Atalanta) and the only one I specifically remember him from is the Atalanta game. And he was pretty good in that game. Granted, Atalanta may not have had the best squad, but that doesn't detract from his showing. I have heard tell, too, that during this game Mariga displayed some sort of crazy mind-control techniques and won a ball simply by staring at a guy. Good for him. A player with mind control techniques is always welcome on the team. Plus, he is like 80% legs, what do you bet he can run?
Grade: 6.5 (extra half for the mind control)
MacDonald Mariga: Mariga just came to us in January but I really liked watching him play. He plays a tough defensive game but he has a lot more range than most. As far as I can recall most of his passes were pretty good. I like to think that he’s going to stay and play a bigger part in the team. The problem is that we are probably going to be playing so many important games I don’t know how much time he will get with the first team. Does the team have any confidence in him? I don’t know if I do. He’s only played 2 complete games with us and I thought that he did okay. 5.5
Cambiasso: 30 Serie A appearances, 4 Coppa Italia, 12 Champions League (3 yellow cards)
Cambiasso was another of the key elements that made this magical season possible. If Mourinho was the general, Cambiasso was the battlefield lieutenant, directing troops in the field and helping to bring Mou's vision to fruition. If you watch the games, he is the one directing traffic in the back third - making sure things get done and everyone knows where their teammates are. He is stalwart in defense, and watching him seemingly effortlessly strip a ball off an oncoming attacker is poetry in motion. Cuchu's season began with an ominous tone: in mid August he damaged his knee ligaments during the Juventus game in the Trofeo Tim. At the time, it was thought he could be out as long as three months. Cambiasso is a fighter, though, and was back on the pitch in just over a month, making his season debut against Cagliari towards the end of September (we won). I dont remember a single game where I thought he was playing less than he could have. That is, Cuchu always seems to give his all, to leave it all on the field. He has only had 4 goals this season, but all where well deserved. I was especially happy with his goal against Chelsea. He had an excellent champions league campaign, and, except for a couple games last spring when the whole team was feeling the strain, he has been well above average in the league as well. He is good enough that invariably EPL teams sniff around every summer, but he is committed to the club and has always maintained that he will stay. After our Champions League win in Madrid, the reporters asked him if he would be changing clubs this summer and, to his credit, he was direct with his answer, saying: "I have been linked to Inter for five years, I am proud to be here and I want another historic year. I am staying here." It just makes you all warm and fuzzy inside. Many consider him to be Inter's next captain, although when asked about it, Cambiasso has always maintained that he will probably retire before Zanetti does. The only negative aspect of this year is that he was left off the world cup squad. I think that this has hurt him more deeply than he lets on, and goodness knows, he deserves to be in South Africa. I hope he can shake off the disappointment and find the motivation to come back swinging next season.
Esteban Cambiasso: In contrast to Thiago Motta who at times was widely up and down, Cambiasso was about as steady as anyone who is not named Javier Zanetti can get. The beautiful thing about a player like Cambiasso is that the ceilings of his performances are incredible and the floors of his performances are still just okay. Cambiasso, I think that I can say, is our midfield engine. In a perfect world – according to me - we would be playing a 433 in which our midfield would be in a carrot shape with Cambiasso and Motta or Zanetti playing side by side behind Wes Sneijder. Is it weird that I have no worries about Cambiasso leaving or whining about his pay. 8.5
Next up, who gets a better grade: Eto'o, Balotelli or Goran?