It’s kind of funny really. And I mean that in a Ha-Ha way. The game, you know, the whole Derby d’Italia thing was so hyped up all over the place. There was the new stadium, all the choreography (and resulting fines...) and primetime on ESPN. Come to find out that in real terms, the game was the least important thing that happened to this team in these last 3 days.
Sound like sour grapes? It might, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not true. I was seriously contemplating putting off writing this piece until I learn more about what the hell is going on with Stramaccioni. But that I decided that it wouldn’t be fair to those who come here looking for up to date Inter stuff and loyally comment all the time. I have been very behind lately so I decided that I can do three posts this week – unlike last week.
Okay so, let’s deal with this stuff that I consider the least important first.
Juventus 2 – Inter 0
Looking dispassionately at this game – which is how I am really looking at just about everything this season - and basically everything that happened was supposed to happen. The better team won. The team that has been in better form won. The seventh place team lost to the second. The team that spent almost €100 million this summer on rejuvenating their squad beat the team that has allowed their team to deteriorate for 2 full seasons.
There shouldn’t have been a whole lot of shock at the outcome. And anyone who read my comments during the LiveBlog should have gotten the fact that I wasn’t too broken up about this game. I was playing a drinking game with myself that used diving Juve players as the trigger. I obviously wasn’t too into the game.
I just think that being bitter about losing this game is disingenuous. Yes, I am a loyal Inter supporter and as such I am genetically mapped to hate Juventus and all their cheating ways, etc., etc., etc.
I am far more bitter about the team’s lack of cunning and creativity in keeping the team fresh and hungry. The lack of talent at incoming players has only been exacerbated by the lack of decent leadership chosen. Poor talent led by poor coaching for two seasons basically led us to this door.
But there is a lot of time to discuss this in depth as we get closer to the end of the season. I’ll try to keep the rest of this mess from wandering all over the place.
I can’t complain about the tactics that Ranieri brought to bear. The 442 took advantage of the positional weakness of the 433, namely that the 433 is a pretty narrow formation and 4 in the midfield should provide options against 3 even if the two Juvenuts wide forwards were playing shallow.
I don’t even have a problem with at least ½ of the midfield personnel. Poli and Obi were ideally suited for their tasks. Obi was effective as a thorn in the left wing and Poli bottled up Pirlo pretty well.
What we needed was one more decent midfield player to wrap up Vidal. Unfortunately all we had was Deki running around out there in the center midfield. Also unfortunately the inherent weakness of the 442 only highlighted our inability to link the midfield to the forwards consistently. Inter took one fantastic shot that Buffon barely got rid of. There was one close one that Forlan got lucky on a header that was probably surprising but it was hit right to Buffon. Obi’s long range laser was never going to beat Buffon from that distance and Deki’s distance volley wasn’t on target. All those were in the first half and prove to be pretty much our offensive output for the night.
Then against the run of momentum Juventus got a score from mistake on a corner. The heads went down, hands went on hips and fire went out of belly. When Ranieri mystifyingly subbed out Poli and Obi the game was gone as those two were the only ones who had any chance to fight against the swing of the game. The second goal came from right up the gut.
One more comment on Poli in this game. At one point right before the half, Poli took two swings of Vucinic’s elbow – one of which caught him right in the chops. Not content with that level of abuse, Vucinic would then take 2 paces off the ball to shove Poli away in an attempt to make some space for himself. Realizing that the ref wasn’t going to, you know make the right call here, Poli grabbed Vucinic by his collar and whipped him around until he was thrown on his ass. To emphasize his point, Poli, being restrained by the ref – who needed Poli to become the aggressor before he decided to act, of course – told Vucinic exactly what would happen the next time disrespect was shown. I loved it. It was exactly the attitude we need. My only disappointment was that Vucinic was able to walk away under his own power.
Ranieri Out, Stramaccioni In
Look let’s get one thing straight right now – I could be completely wrong about all of this. Let’s just get this out of the way. I am working on pure speculation here.
I don’t think that Stramaccioni is going to be Inter’s coach for the next season. I don’t see it. I don’t see it. He will take over the team for these 9 games left. The reason he’s getting to do it is because he has essentially nothing to do for the rest of the season. The Next Gen Series is over and he’s proven to be successful regardless of the great amount of pressure on him. The Inter Primavera team is also first in its table right now.
Strama isn’t going to be leaving the Primavera any time soon. Inter has invested too much treasure, too many hopes and too much time into the whole Youth System. Considering the need for austerity the youth team is far too important to the organization to waste Strama on a job he isn’t prepared for and one that there is no chance of him succeeding at. Therefore it might be worth considering that the order has come down from on high: At this point the season is dead, use the youth coach to assimilate some youth players into the first team now so that when the real coach comes in he has some working parts all ready to go.
Anyway, Strama coming in, to me, is definitely a sign that things are going to change. It just doesn’t make any sense in any other explanation. Otherwise, why not leave Ranieri in? Why make this change if we are just going to play out the string with only 9 games left? What can Strama possibly do that Ranieri can’t?
That last one is easy. Strama can help to try and make the transition for some young guys into the senior team more like an extension of the shit they are already doing.
I have no doubt that this move will be misconstrued like the Canavarro exchange for the 3rd string goalkeeper about 8 years or so ago - it wasn’t about stupidity, a mistake over worth or talent, it was about bookkeeping. This move isn’t about Strama getting a chance at the big time, it’s about the young players getting a leg up for next season.
And I don’t think many people are considering something else. It’ll be more than likely that Strama’s #1 assistant for this 9 game rollercoaster ride is going to be Guiseppe Baresi. “Big deal!” I hear you all say from all over the globe. Well, it’s not really, excepting that Baresi was Inter’s youth coach for a time. There will be essentially two youth coaches there to cushion the transition from near obscurity to front page of the GDS.
Inter Babies Win Inaugurial Next Gen
If this event doesn’t happen, then Ranieri and whatever happens next doesn’t happen either. Once Moratti, and he was in the stands, saw that Inter Primavera was playing the Legendary Ajax Academy very well – remember that around 5 of those Ajax players had senior squad experience – the idea started forming.
We know that 25 year old Guarin is now ready to start integrating into the club and we need to see what we have in him. The rumors are rampant that there are going to be several Babies who are going to be asked to come into the first team. I have no idea who if any are going to be brought up, but if I had to guess, pure speculation here, I would say that Longo is right at the top of the list.
Longo is the name that you hear whispers about on the web. The other youth players we all know about get a lot of fan service.
But Longo has size and he probably isn’t done filling out yet. Longo can play wide or in the middle. Longo can play as the striker or as a support. Longo has skills as well as finishing. Longo has been sacrificing for the group this season playing wide so that others, who can only play in the center, play in the center. Longo can move with or without the ball. Longo checks a lot of boxes on the Where Can He Contribute? Form.
Lukas Spendlhofer and Alfred Duncan also come to mind. Lukas is an Austrian who grew from afterthought midfield purchase – the guy he came over with, the guys that Inter really wanted. was touted as the Next Schweinsteiger and he is already off the team not lasting a year, I don’t think - to canny central defensive player. And Alfred Duncan, a Ghanaian, had just been a tank-like distributor in the midfield.
The big question is whether Rodrigo Alborno gets a call up. Alborno definitely fills a void in the senior team’s roster – namely, Rodrigo is one of the few men in Italy who can play out wide either in attack or in defense. The thing is that he looks to me to be a little small and he’s very young – he’ll be 19 in august. As I said, he can play out wide and that might be worth seeing if he can make the jump up.
And let’s not forget that there is young Juan to bring into the group. Or young Coutinho to bring back from loan. Or rumors of young Rene Krhin being brought back. Or young Ricky Alvarez to re-assimilate. Or young Ranocchia to give confidence to.
And that was one of the functions of the Next Gen Series, I think. How do organizations like Inter know if their academies are producing players equipped to handle the rigor of the fully professional game? This was a great way to test how far this academy has come from the days when Facchetti, a few short years before his death, told Moratti that he needed a class school for young people to grow into this team.
Also, it’s a great advertisement to sell off those players that you have no intention of keeping, but we won’t dwell on that one right now.
But back to the point. When Inter won the Next Gen it proved that the players were hungry, talented and developed to the point where they could fight for some time on the field. I said above that this Inter Primavera team is already at the top of their table, but they are already qualified for the playoffs for the championship. And it’s not just them. I am currently having a hard time bringing up the website so I naturally can’t verify this as I write but, I think that almost all the Inter Youth Teams are right at the top of their tables.
As great as that sounds, it took the NGS to prove that we could compete. I don’t want to oversell the NGS as the Mini-Champions League, because I just don’t think it is. But what it is has allowed Inter to test its Footballer/Coach Making Machine out. Inter is going to sell some of these guys on at huge profit. Inter are going to keep several to develop into players who can contribute. It’s also, hopefully going to be a coaching testing ground.
Again, if Inter and Strama don’t make a strong showing at this, then Ranieri is still chief and we close the season out with the same group who lost at Juventus. I think it also spells the end of guys like Stankovic and Chivu. I really do think that they are gone. Does this also spell the end of Cambiasso, Lucio, Zanetti and Milito? What Strama says in his press conference/what he does on the field should show us a whole lot into what to expect from Inter next summer.
Anyway, I am sure that there will be even more to learn and speculate about after the press conference. If you read this far, congratulations… and you have my sympathy.