Season review 2011/12
Tuesday, 5 June 2012 | Mike Whittaker
Here we are at the end of a season that most of us would like to forget! A season that saw Inter employ three coaches and finish in a lowly sixth place just scraping a place in the preliminaries of next season's Europa League. To rub salt in the wound of a bad season for us we also had to watch our arch rivals Juventus win their 28th Scudetto in an unbeaten league run :-(
When the season's fixture list was revealed back in July 2011 I published my predictions for the upcoming season and all in all I was expecting a usual season from Inter with a total of 24 wins, 10 draws and four loses which would've resulted in the Nerazzurri accumulating a total of 81 points, unfortunately this was a long way off the reality of what really happened. The real stats for Inter's 2011/12 season make for grim reading with just 17 wins, 7 draws and 14 loses meaning my prediction of 81 points was a massive 23 points more than the 58 we did receive. The most depressing thing about these stats are the fact that my predictions were based on us having another average season but I'm still convinced that if we had achieved this level of performance we would've without doubt won the Scudetto.
But instead we have to be thankful that the worst season for Inter since 1948 didn't end a lot worse than it did for us, considering that at one point at the beginning of December there was talk of the mighty Inter being involved in a relegation battle by the end of the season we should be proud of the team for managing to finish in an European spot.
Where did it go wrong for Inter?Even before a competitive ball was kicked things were starting to go against the Nerazzurri, firstly we sold Samuel Eto'o to Anzhi in an attempt to balance our books while having what could only be described as a mediocre summer mercato that didn't even address the squad's main problem of being to old and tired and so despite signing a few promising youngsters the core of the squad was still the old guard that was allegedly being phased out, leaving new coach Gianpiero Gasperini with a squad that didn't suit his favored 3-5-2 formation and to be honest this is where things started to fall apart for us.At the time of Gasperini's appointment it was commonly known that he only plays with this system and I'm not knocking his system (at the time I was quite excited about us playing a new style of football at Inter) but for it to work he needed to replace several of the existing squad with more suitable players especially the center backs as Lucio and Walter Samuel are both coming to the end of their careers and just haven't got the pace that is needed playing a three-man defence.
After a mixed preseason that included a defeat to Milan in the Italian Super cup it was becoming clear that Gasperini seemed to be forcing his ideas on the players instead of evolving his tactics to suit the squad available, this in turn was causing the unity of the squad to crumble and even to outsiders it was obvious that the players weren't happy under his guidance. It didn't take long for Massimo Moratti to realise his mistake in appointing Gasperini to the position and after just five competitive games in which he lost four and drew one he was shown the door while the damage he caused could still be fixed. To be fair to him the problems weren't all his fault as the management must take some responsibility for hiring the wrong man in the first place and also for not supplying him with suitable players. He isn't entirely faultless though, all his defeats in my opinion were purely down to his bad tactical decisions and for this reason Gasperini will go down in Inter's history as the worst coach to ever be at the head of the Nerazzurri.
There was a huge sigh of relief with Gasperini's departure but the Inter squad's morale was at rock bottom and the chaos that Gasperini had caused meant that recovery was going to be a difficult task and so Moratti decided to employ the one coach that is renowned for being football's Mr Fixit, Claudio Ranieri, even though Ranieri was handed a contract until the end of the 2012/13 season we all knew that he was only a temporary measure to bring a bit of stability back to the Inter squad and I have to say was a great decision by Moratti.
Ranieri proved his worth by claiming a 3-1 victory over Bologna on his debut, which was also Inter's first competitive win of the season. He also led the reinvigorated Inter to a Champions league 2-3 away win to CSKA Moscow, this was followed by a fantastic run of seven consecutive Serie A wins including an important away derby win against Milan, which took the Nerazzurri from just above the relegation places up to being contenders to win the Scudetto.
Ranieri had done what he had been brought in to do, but it was at this point where the cracks started to show in his tactical ability and the aging old guard that he relied on were starting to look tired. This coincided with the return of Wesley Sneijder who had been out with a long-term injury and the fact that Ranieri's tactics didn't include a trequartista left the Italian coach looking lost while he tried to include Inter's biggest star.
The result of this was a run of loses that sunk morale to another all time low and had the fans turning against not only Ranieri, but also against the President Moratti as well. There was so much anger and disbelief at how bad Inter were playing that fans, myself included, were even blaming Sneijder for the huge drop in form just because it coincided with his return to the squad. For this I can only apologise to him for placing the blame unfairly, the truth of the matter was that Ranieri had lost the faith of the squad and was unable to inspire the players to play to the best of their abilities and so for the second time this season Inter lost the Derby d'Italia and Moratti was forced to change his head coach yet again.Luckily for our President there was some good news for the club on that day as Andrea Stramaccioni led the Inter Primavera team to victory in the Next Gen Series (equivalent to the Champions League for youth teams) and had shown that he had great potential to be the coach that Moratti had been looking for to rejuvenate the first team. And so for the final 11 matches of the season Stramaccioni stood in as caretaker while Moratti evaluated his potential to lead us back to success next season, with seven wins, two draws and only two loses in his time as caretaker he has more than proved his worth to Inter and has since been rewarded with a full three-year contract.
Not only has Stramaccioni proven his worth with results on the pitch but he has shown his charisma and man management skills off the pitch with influential players like Javier Zanetti and Wesley Sneijder singing his praises. The effect he has had on the team has been evident in the matches he's been in charge of bringing back an attacking, fluid and entertaining style of football to the Nerazzurri squad. With a shakeup in the ranks of players over the summer I for one am excited to see what Stramaccioni can do for us next season and I hope that this will really be the end of the post Mourinho hangover we've been suffering for the past two seasons. Can Stramaccioni be the new beginning that has been needed by Inter since winning the treble in 2010? I truly hope so!