Podcast Appearance, SempreInter: Rating Inter’s catastrophic season

This week, I join the usual suspects (Nima Tavallaey Roodsari, Max De Luca and eternal optimist Mohamed

Check out the Podcast here, on SempreInter’s website!


Inter’s attitude and tactics have improved but their issues go deeper

Nerazzurri fans finally caught a break over the weekend when a reinvigorated Inter beat Lazio 3-1 at the Stadio Olimpico under the tutelage of caretaker Stefano Vecchi. Unfortunately, there were plenty of reasons to worry, reasons that go beyond the fact that Lazio were coming off a Coppa Italia final loss to Juventus or Inter’s quest for Europe already being over.

Read the rest of the column on ESPN

Could Diego Simeone or Antonio Conte have success with Inter Milan?

With Inter earning a mere point in a month and being completely schooled by Napoli at the weekend, the talk of the Nerazzurri hiring Diego Simeone or Antonio Conte has intensified once again.

Read the rest of the article here on ESPN. 

Five things Inter need in a new manager to accelerate rebuild

With Inter sacking Stefano Pioli ten days ago, fans of the Nerazzurri can expect another summer rife with rumours and speculation.

While it may be too early to talk about the numerous candidates set to replace him, it isn’t premature to discuss what Inter’s future manager will need to do to keep both the club (and his own reputation) afloat.

Here are five key issues that have to be addressed if the blue side of Milan is to have anything to celebrate next season.

Read them here on ESPN

Is mentality really the problem with Inter?

Inter are coming off a nightmare run of games ahead of Sunday’s clash with Napoli, failing to win in over a month and somehow allowing half-time leads of 2-0 and 2-1 to turn into a 2-2 draw against AC Milan and a 5-4 defeat to Fiorentina.

In the endless post-mortems which followed the collapse in Florence, Inter were accused of lacking grit and a united mentality, but the squad is full of grinders. Gary Medel isn’t called The Pitbull for nothing, Danilo D’Ambrosio delivered an impassioned speech earlier in the season when things were going wrong, and even substitute Eder is a presence in the changing room.

Read more on my ESPN blog here: 

Roberto Mancini still the right man to lead Inter Milan

While Juventus fans got an early Christmas present in July with the arrival of striker Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli, the Inter faithful have been treated to a somewhat different summer. It began with a series of clever signings, but has since been spoiled by Napoli’s pursuit of Mauro Icardi, whose agent (and wife) Wanda Nara has rankled Inter supporters with recent comments via social media.

Things have arguably got worse since then, with speculation that coach Roberto Mancini would leave the San Siro if ownership didn’t satisfy his transfer requests, not to mention renew his existing deal, which expires next year.

Read the rest on ESPNFC HERE

Inter and Mancini need each other

Inter’s tour of the United States has hardly been a relaxing affair: as if speculation over a possible Mauro Icardi departure to Napoli wasn’t bad enough, the Italian sports press is awash with reports of Coach Roberto Mancini’s dissatisfaction with the club’s transfer policy, with some even indicating that the former Manchester City gaffer would leave if his demands were not met.

There is, however, something that isn’t quite convincing about Il Mancio’s supposed desire to leave.

Read the rest of the article on Football Italia here

ESPN BLOG: Ever Banega is the perfect piece to Inter Milan’s midfield puzzle

An oft-repeated complaint from Inter Milan’s 2015-16 season reads as follows: coach Roberto Mancini will be unable to achieve his tactical dreams if the club fails to add another skillful player to the midfield mix.

Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and Lazio’s Antonio Candreva and Lucas Biglia have all been linked to the Nerazzurri in recent weeks, but Mancini may have already found the player he so desires in Argentine midfielder Ever Banega, who joined the club this summer on a free transfer.

Banega isn’t just a capable playmaker, he may well be the signing that makes the team gel and takes Inter’s ailing attack (the club only managed only 50 goals last season, seventh in Serie A) to the next level.

Read the rest of the article on ESPN at

Future is bright for Roma

It is rare to claim that ending an eight-game Serie A winning streak and losing your Sporting Director in one night is good news.

Yet for Roma, last night’s 1-1 draw with Inter could well end up being a step in the right direction, and for reasons which go beyond Walter Sabatini’s departure.

For a start, there is no shame in drawing with an Inter team whose manager, Roberto Mancini, has outsmarted Coach Luciano Spalletti before (and vice versa). Despite murdering Inter 6-2 in the 2007 Coppa Italia Final, Lucianone’s Giallorossi never won a home league game against Mancini’s men (even losing 4-1 in September 2007), and generally struggled to right the ship if things went wrong against the Nerazzurri.

Read the rest of the article here

Which African and Asian players will Serie A miss the most?

With the African Cup of Nations and Asian Cup in full swing, fans the world over now have an excuse to sneakily watch football at work every day of the week. A few, however, won’t be best pleased to find out that their teams’ stars could be away for weeks, or more if they pick up an injury.
We all got to see the most xenophobic wing of this school of thought when Bordeaux manager Willy Sagnol revealed his true feelings about the African Cup of Nations late last year, so why not target a federation who elected a racist president? Step forward Italy, who elected Giogio Tavecchio despite some horrific comments about African players made in the run-up to the voting.
So, without further ado, let’s review which absences will hurt their respective teams the most.

Read the rest on The News Hub


Will the Donkeys fly against Inter at the Bentegodi?

Chievo welcome Inter to the Bentegodi on Monday looking to go unbeaten for a sixth straight Serie A game.

The Clivensi have quietly fought their way out of the relegation zone since Rolando Maran took over from Eugenio Corini, capping off their run with a 2-0 away win over Cagliari last week.

Things have changed since Corini was given the brown envelope in late October – the Mussi Volanti have gone from being 3-0 down at half-time to Roma to beating Cagliari with two strikes inside 10 minutes, including a Riccardo Meggiorini overhead kick.


What Inter can learn from St Etienne

Other than Walter Mazzarri’s woes, last night’s Europa League tie underlined just how a team of Inter Milan’s stature could stand to learn a thing or two from Saint Etienne, who either put into effect or incarnate some methods that a cash-strapped Serie A needs to take an interest in. In the wake of news that Inter Milan are still over 100€ million in debt, the sight of a former trigger-happy coaching graveyard – not to mention relegation struggler- following a manageable yet promising strategy must set alarm bells ringing in Milan. Here are a few of the contrasts that struck me as a youthful and ambitious Saint Etienne side made Inter look like they were playing away:

If you’re not going to compete with the Galacticos, spend efficiently

The post-Champions League hangover didn’t take long to set in at the Giuseppe Meazza, with Massimo Moratti announcing spending cuts to keep Inter in line with the upcoming Financial Fair Play (FFP). With Italy already in decline compared to other, richer leagues, it was time for a rethink.

14-10 Inter- St Etienne 3

Alvaro Pereira upon being asked how he thinks Inter fans view him

If Inter couldn’t be big spenders either on the Italian or the European scene, then they needed to separate themselves from the pack, to find talent where no-one else saw it, develop their own, or at least sign players at market-efficient prices. Think of what the Oakland Athletics have been able to achieve in America, or indeed Udinese, going full Portuguese and reselling their young, cheap, well-scouted talent at exhorbitant prices.

What Inter didn’t want to do was spend in excess of £60 million over a season (that of 2012-13) on a few signings that didn’t really make the team significantly better. There was certainly quality to be found (Samir Handanovic, Rodrigo Palacio, Mateo Kovacic), but also ridiculous clangers (Alvaro Pereira) and overpaid players (Pereira alone cost Inter £10.96 million, Fredy Guarin £9.68), making sure that Inter couldn’t reel in many recruits and properly rejuvenate an ageing squad comfortably past its prime.

Why were Inter waiting in line behind the richer clubs and settling for the last turkey in the shop, and not looking for a value find to trump the competition?

Saint Etienne, for their part, have spent a mere £35.82 million since the 2012-13 season. Obviously, the French market is less affluent, but we’re still talking of the 8th budget in France  regularly overachieving since Christophe Galtier helped the club avoid relegation in 2010, coming in fourth last time round.

That 2012/3 window summarises the situation perfectly, ASSE snatching two exciting playmakers inYohan Mollo and Romain Hamouma, a decent striker in Brandão, one of France’s most dynamic midfielders (Renaud Cohade) and a veteran defender (François Clerc) for a combined £3.52 million. Only one of them -Mollo’s- was a loan, though he has recently signed with the club.

Invest in youth

Surprisingly, the average age of the Inter squad is lower than Saint Etienne’s (transfermarkt has them at 26.2 and 26.8, respectively). Nobody would believe that of the team that gave away Davide Santon to Newcastle for mere peanuts.

St Etienne are, by comparison, a model for many European clubs. One of France’s traditional four youth academies, Les Verts have unleashed Josuha Guilavogui, Faouzi Ghoulam, Allan Saint-Maximin, Kurt Zouma and Ismaël Diomandé, the latter three semi-finalists at the 2011 Gambardella Youth Cup. Not all of them are world beaters, but three have earned big transfers, and two are becoming contributors at the Geoffroy-Guichard, both playing over 180 minutes this year. St Etienne eventually welcomed six members of that Under-19s squad to the A team.

Inter don't want this guy! Nagatomo forever!

Inter don’t want this guy! Nagatomo forever!

Inter’s transgressions are too many to list, but their youth players all seem to go through the same gauntlet of endless loans, insignificant stints and preposterously low transfer fees. Not all these players have to be world-beaters, regular starters are a more than enough. Inter need both youth and development in their squad, not short-term punts on golden oldies looking for a golden parachute. A good example would be Davide Santon: did Inter so desperately need £4.5 million that they couldn’t be bothered to develop a fullback some had (prematurely) compared to Paolo Maldini? What about Faraoni, or Caldirola?

Italy’s Under-21 squad for the Slovakia game spins a sad yarn: Inter owns 4 of its members, but they’re all out on loan. Two more were recently given away. Again, this isn’t markedly different from other Italian clubs, but if you’re short of money and ideas, developing youth can provide a valid alternative, especially when it comes to resale.

Who would you believe had made more money off selling players, the Italian giant, or the French mining town scrapper that came within a few points of relegation back in 2010? Well, since 2012, it’s the giant, but by a whopping £2.97 million. St Etienne brought in £67.25 million over that time, £37.49 coming from Zouma, Guilavogui, Ghoulam and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Inter, for their part, sold most of the crown jewels two years ago, Erick Thohir’s policy of only spending what comes in a mere excercise in self-deception.

If you won’t buy Italian, Buy French

With Europe’s biggest clubs around snapping up most of the recognised star power, and Italian talent generally coming at a premium, clubs like Inter need to look for market inefficiencies in order to boost both squad and books. France is one such example, Newcastle paying £4.4 million for Yohan Cabaye and selling him back for £22, just a million less than what was spent on him, Yanga-Mbiwa, Debuchy, Haïdara, Debuchy and Moussa Sissoko combined.

Yet with the whole continent obsessing over Adrien Rabiot, only Fiorentina zoned in on Benjamin Stambouli, a highly promising young Frenchman. Most French clubs aren’t run by Jean Michel Aulas, and often don’t know how to extract the best price for their young talent: Faouzi Ghoulam’s £4.4 million price tag an example of a downright criminal steal from the Neapolitans. Stambouli himself left for a clip under €6 million, David Ospina for €3.5.

St Etienne, for their part, have been diligently recruiting French for a number of years: Renaud Cohade, Stéphane Ruffier, Benjamin Corgnet, Franck Tabanou, Yohan Mollo and Romain Hamouma being some of the examples. Most of them young, some from recently promoted clubs (and hence at better prices), all good Ligue 1 players. Worst case scenario, Les Verts have a cheap, well-stocked squad. Best case scenario, they compete for the Champions League and keep raking it in as some leave for foreign shores.

Keep your squad stocked

Inter are falling asleep at the wheel. Coach Mazzarri’s choice to play a 3-5-2 isn’t helping, of course, but there is no justification for how the Nerazzurri lack any serious cover at most positions. St Etienne’s sheer numbers are a major boon here. If Hamouma or Corgnet are out, Tabanou and Mollo can come on.

Inter’s barely-rejuvenated squad had seven players out last weekend (joint-most in Italy that weekend), a massive red flag for a team with evident fitness issues, which the club shamefully tried to bemoan after the humiliating 3-0 defeat to Fiorentina, as if it were normal after a whole seven games. Since the 2011/12 season it has become painfully obvious that Inter are stumbling around in the dark, not making any long-term plans or investing in their future. To quote Billy Beane in the movie Moneyball, “If we try to play like the Yankees in here [the boardroom], we’ll lose to the Yankees out there”. I guess Beane had never heard of Cagliari.