Inter Milan Serie A Preview: Bouncing Back on a Budget is the Key for Nerazzurri
By Oliver Wilson
Inter Milan fans are desperate to put the problems of last season behind them as they prepare for their 2012/13 Serie A campaign.
Three managers sat in the hot seat at the San Siro last season and it was the most unlikely candidate that finally found a degree of success in a difficult year.
After Gan Piero Gasperini lasted just a handful of weeks, Claudio Ranieri was given six and a half months before club and manager mutually agreed to part ways.
In stepped Andrea Stramaccioni, Inter’s U-20 coach.
Stramaccioni may have been inexperienced as a Serie A manager but, after losing just two of Inter’s last eleven games of the season, owner Massimo Moratti offered the 36-year-old coach the top job on a permanent basis.
Joining the new young manager comes a new ethos at the club, as UEFA’s financial fair play rules continue to take effect around Europe.
A desire to bring in and develop young talent at the club's youth academy has been reiterated a number of times this summer, while the squad's ‘golden oldies’ have begun to shuffle their feet nervously as they assess their immediate futures.
Gone already is Goran Pandev to Napoli along with long-term defender Lucio, who will wear the black and white stripes of Juventus this coming season.
The ever-temperamental Diego Forlan has played his last game in an Inter shirt and his two goals in 18 appearances last season won’t be missed, as he heads (ironically) to Internacional in Brazil.
Rather then star names, quality budget replacements have been shipped in to fill the gaps.
Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic has joined to replace long-term servant Julio Cesar between the posts. The Slovenian keeper kept 16 clean sheets in Serie A last season for Udinese and, at 28-years-old, is just reaching his prime.
Palermo’s Matias Silvestre has also jbeen added this summer on loan from Palermo, and while neither him, nor Handanovic, are world class names, Inter fans will be pleased to see the club filling its squad with successful, experienced league players.
Other departures look imminent this summer after Julio Cesar and striker Giampaolo Pazzini were left off Stramaccioni’s Europa League squad selection.
No new striker looks set to replace either Pazzini or Forlan and Inter will want to sign a goal scorer before the transfer window closes in August to take the pressure off star forward Diego Milito.
Like most clubs in Italy though, money is tight as they look to balance the books, and Moratti wont be willing to splash the cash on the open market.
If Internazionale want to rejoin Serie A’s title contenders a striker and a fullback will be needed, as we wonder if Javier Zanetti can continue to play another full season at the age of 38.
The Nerazzurri will be relying on Wesley Sneijder to bounce back from his horrible 2011/12 season and inspire the creativity and attacking threat in a side that was lacking both a year ago.
A mere four goals and five assists in 20 league appearances highlight just how out of sync both Sneijder and Inter were, and if Stramaccioni’s side are to return to glory, the Dutchman will have to be the heart and sole of the side.
They have something to prove, but a possibly lengthy Europa League campaign could hinder their League form. A good but not great side has been formed but it lacks a certain flare and quality when it comes to depth.
If they can fire on all cylinders this season Champions League football is a possibility, but another Europa League spot looks more then likely for Inter at the end of the coming season. Expect them to be around fourth spot come May.