Does Ranieri deserve to stay at Inter?
The 2011/12 Serie A season has been a very hard one for all those involved with F.C Internazionale, with everyone from President Massimo Moratti, the players, backroom staff and even the fans are feeling the pressure of a season that has seen more defeats than any in recent memory. The ongoing crisis has deepened for Inter after their latest defeat to Napoli, making it eight games without a win for the Nerazzurri, what is even more worrying is the fact that seven of those have been defeats and even in the one draw they managed to achieve, four goals were conceded.
The Nerazzurri now sit in 7th place on 36 points which is a massive nine points behind Lazio – their targeted Champions league qualifying 3rd place. And any chance of challenging for the Scudetto is long gone with AC Milan in 1st place, 15 points ahead with just 13 games left to play this season.
Even the good run of form over Christmas seems like a distant memory and in hindsight all it did was cover up the lingering problems at the club. Lets face it, Claudio Ranieri still has a job just because Inter President Massimo Moratti is worried about the effect of sacking three coaches in the same season, would have on the club’s reputation. Plus to get an ideal long-term coach they need to wait until after the Euros in the summer. Rumours coming out of Italy are suggesting that the result for the upcoming game against Catania will convince Massimo Moratti whether to keep Ranieri in the job, and reports from the press are saying that Guiseppe Baresi and Luis Figo are on stand by to take over as caretaker coaches until the end of the season.
The low morale and lack of any cohesion between the players on the pitch shows only too clearly that Ranieri is part of the problem for Inter. His tactics and team selection changes from game to game meaning that there is no consistency to build the foundations of a unified squad that is needed to be a dominant force in all competitions. In the last half a dozen games, the Inter players have been running around like headless chickens doing their own thing and not having a clue as to what their teammates are doing.
Some Interisti are blaming the current dip in form on the sale of Thiago Motta to PSG as he was ever-present during the period of good form that saw them rise from near the relegation zone, up to being back in the Scudetto race for a while, but the flip side of that is the Nerazzurri have also started losing when Wesley Sneijder returned from injury and Ranieri was forced to change his formation to include the Dutch trequartista in the squad. In truth these factors have both had an impact but the biggest impact has come from the severe drop in morale in the squad.
The Nerazzurri have brought in several young talents in to the fold since the start of the season with the intention to phase out the older players and change the dynamic of how Inter Milan plays. But, game after game Ranieri is starting players like Stankovic who is well past his best and Chivu who isn’t considered as a long-term player and will be leaving at the end of his contract in the summer. The attitude of the players needs addressing too as some players are looking deflated and almost depressed on the pitch, while others don’t seem to be giving their 100% to do everything in their power to win the three points for their team. Sneijder is the best example of how poor attitude reflects on Inter’s performances on the pitch. He has made some terrible passes in recent weeks, but instead of chasing the ball to recover possession he is happy to whinge and let his teammates do all the defensive work.
This negative attitude was highlighted by Stankovic during the Napoli game when he was taken off for playing poorly, only to be replaced by the excellent Andrea Poli, but instead watching the remainder of the match on the bench he stormed off to the changing room. Sneijder too has major issues with Ranieri’s decision to substitute him at half time to play a more defensive formation. In short there are too many players in the Inter squad that think it is their right to be in the starting XI even if they are not contributing enough and so it is up to the coach and the management team to make it clear that everyone has to earn their place on the pitch.
The reality of the situation is there is no quick fix for Inter, Moratti needs to make some drastic changes throughout the club, bring in a quality coach that has a workable long-term plan and then he has to give his new coach the time and patience to put the plan into action and create an identity and trademark playing style that is supported throughout all aspects of the club from the Primavera team all the way through to the first team squad.
If Moratti can implement some major changes in the summer Inter may have a more successful season in 2012/13, though a complete return of ‘La Grande Inter’ is going to take a good few seasons at least, as for the remainder of what will forever be known to Interisti as the ‘season from hell’ it has to be a case of damage limitation and if that means the end of Ranieri’s reign then so be it!