March 27th, 2012
07:32 PM ET

Is Inter Milan still suffering a Mourinho hangover?

Claudio Ranieri is the latest coach to fail at Inter Milan following Jose Mourinho's departure.
Claudio Ranieri is the latest coach to fail at Inter Milan following Jose Mourinho's departure.

It was always a case of when, not if, Claudio Ranieri was going to be sacked by Inter Milan. Following a miserable run of results - just one win in 10 games - the Italian club's president Massimo Moratti decided enough was enough.

But the story here isn’t Ranieri, but rather Inter, and what has happened to the 18-time Serie A title winners since Jose Mourinho left after the 2009-10 season, in which he won the European Champions League plus a domestic double.

Nearly two years have passed since then, but I believe the ghost of the “special one” still haunts the training ground at Appiano Gentile.

It’s not only the trophies that are missed in Milan, but also Mourinho's character and personality. He had a strong and intimate relationship with the players, and it has left them feeling empty ever since he abandoned them for Madrid.

Wesley Sneijder recently said that Mourinho was the best coach he ever had. Even the fiery Zlatan Ibrahimovic revealed in an interview that he would have “killed for Mourinho.”

You simply cannot underestimate the impact he had on Inter’s players, and in my opinion that has made life virtually impossible for every man who has succeeded him.

If the Mourinho effect has definitely been a factor contributing to Inter’s demise, most of the blame still has to go to the president, Moratti. A series of mistakes in hiring managers and signing players have led the Nerazzuri down a dark path which will difficult to escape from.

Let’s have a quick look, first, at the managers who have been brought in over the last two seasons.

Former Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez was the worse possible choice to succeed Mourinho considering that his personality clashed immediately with the squad. Furthermore, the fact he wanted his players to forget about Mourinho, and move on playing in a different way, only made matters worse.

Following Benitez, Moratti leaned on former AC Milan player and coach Leonardo, who was actually not a bad choice at the time, but the Brazilian’s heart was never in it, and the 1994 World Cup winner left at the end of the 2010-11 season.

A new campaign brought with it a new manager, and disastrous would be a good word to describe the choice of Gian Piero Gasperini, whose only top-level coaching experience was at Genoa. He came in with a revolutionary tactical approach but failed miserably to apply it to a group of players who simply were not cut out for it. The result was a short stint which failed to yield a single win in five games.

Which leads us to Ranieri, a widely-respected coaching veteran who has led top clubs such as Juventus, Chelsea and Valencia. To be honest, he never had a prayer. Coming in with the season already in progress and with an ageing and jaded squad, he was hardly going to make much of an impact.

Initially Inter's results were okay, but slowly the novelty effect wore off and the team started to display more and more chinks in its armour.

If Moratti was poor with his choices for managers, he was equally unfortunate at picking the right players for the club.

Firstly, he has been too emotional when it comes to letting certain players go. The likes of Lucio, Ivan Cordoba, Christian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, and even Esteban Cambiasso should have been sold.

As far as replacements are concerned, the club has invested in youth but their policy has back-fired. Andrea Ranocchia simply isn’t good enough, Philippe Coutinho hasn’t been given much of a chance, Ricky Alvarez is far from being the finished product and Luc Castaignos hasn’t been able to adapt to Italian football.

In other words, they were the wrong choices at the wrong time.

So what next for Inter? Well this week the club unveiled a talented yet unknown coach to take over until the end of the season. Andrea Stramaccioni, who is only 36 years old, has been brought up from coaching the youth team to leading the senior team.

Does he stand a chance? I doubt it. Until Inter bring in someone with a big personality and big character to make everyone forget about Mourinho, the Nerazzuri are doomed.

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soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Killian Donnellan

    Great article Pedro, I think Inter's problems are similar to Chelsea's, they are an old squad. I think if Inter are looking for a long term solution then Stramaccioni should be manager, if they are looking for a short term solution then Fabio Capello should be the next Inter manager. Can I just add nothing to do with this article, I used think you (Pedro) made strange and I thought at the time wrong observations in football like saying La Liga was better than the Premiership and Man United would win the league this year. But now you have proved me and others wrong and I will respect your good knowledge of football from now on

    March 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Reply
  2. vingtetdeux

    The legacy of Mourinho is always hard on those who sit on his chair afterwards. There were only two managers who were able to live in Mourinho's shadow. The first was Avram Grant (which was already in Chelsea's structure) and Guus Hiddink which is in my opinion one of the 5 best coaches in the world. The philosophy inoculated by Mourinho in his players is so intense that the purpose of winning (common in all professional athletes) becomes even greater and some cases excessive. Additionally Mourinho always tends to win and the ecstasy that floods his teams after they conquer their trophies is followed by a big comedown and withdrawal in Mourinho's absence. He sucks the talent and souls of all his players in order to build a bulletproof winning team, however his model is yet to be sustainable. He can't become a longterm manager because of the intensity of his strategies, so he leaves a void and burnt land when he leaves. Nontheless he's the best manager in the world and already one of the best in history, in my opinion. After Madrid his challenge will be to create a durable legacy in a team, mostly because his "nemesis" Guardiola created a new paradigm of perfection, aesthetics and sustainability that allow those who hate Mourinho to question all his previous work and greatness.

    March 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  3. Ivan

    The only coach with a similarly big personality and big character is Fabio Capello – former manager of the English National squad. He's coached hard to manage players in the biggest clubs in Italy and is the only one who could squeeze some results out of Inter.

    March 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  4. alehandro

    If it is the case that a huge club like Inter with such a long and proud tradition is no bigger than a single coach then that would be a shame. Mourinho is clearly a great football man but he is exactly that - a man not a God. There has never been an irreplaceable coach at any club and the Inter job is no exception. Someone will come in and take the reins with authority and he will be successful, it just takes time and a little experimentation which, due to the high profile of the Nerazzuri, has to be done in the full glare of public scrutiny. They've tried established coaches, promising newcomers and journeyman, now it's the turn of a young unknown in the form of Stramaccioni, who's very much in the vein of an AVB or, dare I say it, a Pep Guardiola, who each came out of nowhere in terms of their coaching pedigree to gain success with Porto and Barca respectively. Maybe the job will be too big for him, as it was for AVB at Chelsea, or maybe he'll thrive as Guardiola has at Barca. The point is that Moratti, like Abramovic at Chelsea, is brave enough to keep the experiment going until he finds the right solution. That's frustrating for Inter fans but to me it beats the alternative of sticking with the wrong man just to save face.

    March 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  5. NVGDO

    There isonly one man in the world who can have Inter winning again....and immediately....Marcelo Bielsa...He's a coaching phenom and genius...2 words..Marcelo Bielsa!!! Those who know futbol know that there is nothing else to be said just hand him over a blank check

    March 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Reply
  6. Chris KH, Cascais, Portugal

    Grande Pedro! But lets be very fair here...your article is only stating the blatontly obvious..after its all happened...not necessarily unpredictable...stating factual and statistical information. However yes..Mourinho has such a strong effect on his squads..and thats the difference towards other coches, which is that...it doesnt matter which club he coaches..he always adapts his style and personality and roots it into the clubs personality. No other coach has managed to that so successfully...NONE! Thats what makes him the Special One, since hes the only one. If Guardiola leaves Barça...all indications are that he wont manage...since...hes a success in Barça since hes Cantera material, the DNA matches...always will in a club like Barça...no wonder Xavi is already in line to succeed him. Villas Boas is another example...hes a coach that CANNOT coach players his age or similar..but rather only young teams..due to compatibility issues. Its compatibility..an issue Mourinho adjusts as he pleases whilst all other coaches depend on luck and a lot of adapting from the day they arrive to a new club!

    March 30, 2012 at 11:23 am | Reply
  7. Dr. Cajetan Coelho

    The sack race is an essential ingredient in world football. Coaches come and if they don't deliver silver ware they get sacked in the course of the season.

    I know of three long serving guys – Sir Alex Ferguson of Man United, Shri Armando Colaço of Dempo Sports Club in India and Monsieur Arsene Wenger at the Emirates. These three veterans are the Special Ones making their wards play attractive football seasons after season.

    March 31, 2012 at 10:44 am | Reply
  8. ali

    the best ever coach the world of football has ever seen.

    April 1, 2012 at 8:12 am | Reply
  9. Pokerseiten Vergleich

    You simply cannot underestimate the impact he had on Inter’s players.

    April 2, 2012 at 11:40 am | Reply
  10. ngancil

    inter has to change, no more short-term solutions, appointing stramaccioni is a start, at least he's a guy from inside the club, unlike leonardo, gasperini & ranieri, yes he's not an experienced coach, but rome wasn't built in a day, inter have to be patient, i'm sure the senior players have realized that some of them don't have 90 minutes in their legs anymore, they will be replaced eventually, besides, if they are going to be sold, who's going to buy them? & i say no to capello, he was an ac milan coach!

    April 3, 2012 at 9:07 am | Reply
  11. Anton

    Teams a joke

    Mourhino ALWAYS burns out teams, BUT for some miraculous reason, WHICH I suspect has nothing to do with Jose, REAL MADRID are buying YOUTH, and that sits well for when the jerk leaves.

    Boring boring Mourhino

    April 8, 2012 at 2:44 am | Reply
  12. Berneath Princewill

    Great piece. I think inter with Roberto Mancini grew into a team with character. Mancini has a philosophy of creating a very talented group that gives him different options. Jose Morinho builds a team and breath into them character and confidence. This is what is affecting Inter no coach after Morinho has been able to instill that confidence in the players, if you bring back Morinho he will still make it happen with the same players. The departure of key player like Samuel Eto, Sully Muntari, Thiago Motta,Amatino Mancini and Mario Balotelli while replacing them with mediocre player like Pazzini and Andrea Rannochia is absolutely destined to produce this kind of results. It important that Inter recognizes that it is a big team and go for big coaches. A great coach for inter at this time will be someone like Guus Hindink of Franklin Rijkaard. It is time Moratti realizes that he cannot get good results with the kind of coaches he is willing to engage their services.

    April 15, 2012 at 3:01 am | Reply
  13. markdbiram2011

    their managerial turnover is insane, i read somewhere they've been through as many managers in 20 years as man utd have in a century.

    mourinho is an excellent man-manager, makes his players feel good about themselves etc. i don't think he thinks too much about long-termism though, he does a couple of years, leaves smelling of roses and leaves behind a mess for the next boss (ageing players, stagnating team etc)

    April 22, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  14. elocho

    Guys come on, footbaall is a game which changes from season to season and it is not about Mourinhho i believe he is a good manager but all football teams can't have him, this is not Inter Milan's season the team will improve and be a good team next season. Mourinho's side was defeated recently because it was not his season, he said: but Chelsea made it to the final.

    April 28, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  15. markdbiram

    yes, according to jose chelsea getting to the final was impossible!!! the world doesn't revolve around the special one...there are plenty of great managers out there.

    April 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Reply
  16. tito

    WOW WOW BEST FINAL OF MY LIFE PROUDEST CHELSEA MOMENT SINCE 2005!!!!!CZECH AND DROGBA WERE BEASTS!!!LASTEST RANKINKS CHELSEA=1 REAL MADRDID =2 MANCITY =3 AND BARCA=WELL I DON'T KNOW LOL HA HA.Anyway I Never knew neuer enjoys winning semis but enjoys loosing FINALS WEIRD!!!!I CALL IT DAYLIGHT -(ROBBERRY)??LOL

    May 22, 2012 at 9:22 am | Reply

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