Stramaccioni was appointed on a permanent basis at the beginning of the 2012-13 season, following a successful interim period, the highlight of which was the victory in the Derby della Madonnina. And so far, his appointment has proven to be the best signing of the season. His tactical understanding of the game is impeccable, and he sends his teams out with a clear bent of mind, to attack, and yet keep the defense protected. For a team going through a period of transition, he is exactly what the doctor prescribed, a young coach who understands the players, and yet has a strong belief in his own abilities and the will to succeed.
His calm demeanor on the touchline, an obsessive attention to detail and confidence in his team are all features that have endeared him to the Inter faithful. It’s still early days, but he has his team going great guns, and long may it continue. The example of Sneijder being kept out of the squad till he makes a decision on his future speaks volumes about Stramaccioni’s personality, and how the team comes above all for him.
The retooling of the squad had become important, as the squad contained many senior personnel with bloated egos (Lucio, Maicon, Julio Cesar) who were hindering the redevelopment of the squad. The essential step of letting them go was taken without much fuss, and the players brought in were done with an intention of improving upon last year’s positioning, and getting into the Champions League positions. The arrivals of Palacio and Cassano gave the squad great impetus going forward, whilst the permanent signings of Guarin, Pereira and Handanovic added solidity.
The weakness in midfield and defense was addressed with the loan signings of Gargano, Mudingayi and Silvestre. The overall transaction that Inter made over the summer was around 7 million Euros, with the club generating enough revenue through sales to buy players who were ambitious and exhibited versatility in terms of the positions they play, which suited the club’s needs perfectly.
The promotion of several players from the Primavera has added some much needed freshness to the Inter squad. Having seen them develop during his tenure as the youth team coach, Stramaccioni has complete faith in their talent and youthful exuberance. The introduction of Juan Jesus into the team as a centre back was injury enforced, but his performances have shown that throwing him in to the deep has helped him develop greatly. Livaja has been a regular in the Europa League this year, and his performances bode well for the future. The promotion of youth into the first team squad was also a principle that Guardiola followed during his time as Barcelona‘s coach, and shows the forward thinking approach that Stramaccioni employs.
The emergence of Coutinho and Alvarez is also something to be recognized, as they have good chances of becoming mainstays in the team for a long time to come. Coutinho has looked like a perfect trequartista, while Alvarez, if he can shake of his injury problems, will be another versatile addition to the attacking midfield/ forward line.
Inter are slowly moving away from a 4-3-1-2 to a more Italian 3 man defense, with their players offering them the flexibility to switch between a 3-4-1-2, a 3-4-3 and a 3-5-2. The reason for this change in formation is the surplus of defensive midfielders and the lack of wingers who can provide an outlet on the counter attack and help stretch opposition defences in the squad. The return of Samuel has provided a veteran presence to the inexperienced defence. The burgeoning partnership between Juan Jesus and Ranocchia is promising, and the versatility of Cambiasso means he too can play in a back 3.
The wing backs in Zanetti, Nagatomo and Pereira help provide the width going forward, and also give protection to the defence by cutting off supply from the wings. The midfield is solid with Guarin/ Gargano and Cambiasso providing the energy and steadfastness necessary in such a formation. This setup has helped provide some much needed solidity to their play, and also help make up for the general lack of depth in terms of specialists in their positions.
The presence of Cassano has added a lot of unpredictability to the Inter attacking play. Palacio has added great work rate and pace. When combined with Milito’s predatory finishing, it helps add many dimensions to the Inter attack. The constant interchange of positions between Milito and Palacio, combined with Cassano’s free role adds to the variations in terms of their attacking. Throw in Coutinho, and the deliberate passing and guile of Alvarez, and Inter possess of a multitude of options going forward. The marauding wing play of Nagatomo and Zanetti, along with the new signing Pereira, adds a lot of threat from the wings, and presents multiple threats for the opposition to focus on. We haven’t yet talked about Sneijder and his offensive versatility and capability. So, attack is clearly this Inter team’s strength. And Stramaccioni is smart to focus on their strengths.
Mind you, the resurrection is still ongoing, and there is a long way till the end of the tunnel, but Stramaccioni has got the team going on the right track, and is the best man for the job.Published 27 Nov 2012, 00:31 IST