Forty-five years of unbearable anguish.
That was the time some lifelong El Nerrazurri fans waited for an incredible Champions League triumph over the might Bayern München in Madrid on the night of Saturday May 22, 2010.
Diego Milito’s brace that night gave Internazionale their first win in Europe’s most prestigious competition since the club’s historic back-to-back victories in 1963 and 1964, with Giacinto Facchetti and Sandro Mazzolla gracing the San Siro pitch under the watchful eye of Helenio Herrera, the man who transformed Inter.
Jose Mourinho became only the third man, after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld to win the trophy with two different clubs after his success with FC Porto in 2004, in what concluded a treble winning season. They became only the sixth team in history to win the Treble of league, cup and European Cup, the first Italian club to achieve the feat.
Inter fans amid incredible scenes in the Piazza Duomo, Milan
However, Mourinho soon left the club for the heavy heights of Real Madrid, with Rafa Benitez taking over. There were rumblings within Milan that the prosperity the team had just enjoyed was about to end.
Forward to February 2014, and Walter Mazzarri was the sixth coach to lose his job following Mourinho’s successes.
Samuel Eto’o, Lucio, Wesley Sneijder, Marco Materazzi. Just some of the names that were part of a crowd, rushing to exit the San Siro after Mourinho’s departure.
Claudio Ranieri barely attempted to convince Thiago Motta not to join Paris Saint Germain in 2012, before instrumental midfield lynchpin Esteban Cambiasso left the destruction in Milan for Leicester City in 2014.
Many point to Massimo Moratti as the villain in this ugly pantomine. Having spent over £700m to achieve the dream of bringing the Champions League trophy back to the San Siro, Morratti let loose, allowing his club to drift aimlessly.
The controversial owner then sold a seventy percent stake for €250m to Erick Thohir, yet the club still recorded losses of over €180m in the summer of last year, having to secure a €230m loan using underlying assets.
The future looked bleak, until Roberto Mancini stepped in.
The sheer volume of managers at Inter Milan in those four years since Madrid had disrupted any hope of consistency or success in Milan. The squad under Mazzarri lacked any real definition or style; to reuse a tired cliche ‘there is eleven men on the pitch, not a team’.
After a relatively successful time at Manchester City in the league, Mancini set about introducing his own tactics on the team. Mark his stamp on the team, if you will.
January saw the signings of Xherdan Shaqiri and Lukas Podolski to add depth to the squad, and despite failing to qualify for a European spot, a promising second half of the season gave the club a foundation to work from.
Mancini clearly had the support of owner Erick Thohir, but to his credit his performed admirably in the market. Defensively last season, Inter were a calamity, and if not for star goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, it is undoubted the goals would have been breached more than the already disappointing forty-eight times. A monumental amount of work was needed after an eighth place finish in 2014/15.
Yuga Nagatomo, captain Andrea Ranocchia and Nemanja Vidic all had their fair share of errors, and it is defensive recruitments that Mancini has added, and rightly so. Martin Montoya has been signed from Barcelona, but a particularly impressive augmentation to the squad has been Atletico Madrid’s Miranda, a stronghold in Diego Simeone’s defence.
Jeison Murillo also joins from Granada having initially agreed the deal in February. The 23-year-old centre-back greatly impressed in the Copa America, as does Jonathan Biabiany.
Elsewhere, El Nerazurri showed the rest of Serie A that they meant business with the €40m capture of AS Monaco’s Geoffrey Kondogbia. Highly sought after, the Frenchman initially entered the world stage after a string of impressive performances in the U20 World Cup, which France won, alongside Paul Pogba in 2013.
Stevan Jovetic signs on loan with a view to a permanent move after fluctuating form for Manchester City, but Inter’s biggest achievement of the summer is surely warding off interest in their star striker Mauro Icardi, who won the Capocannoniere with Luca Toni, scoring twenty-two goals.
Icardi became the youngest ever player to win it since Paolo Rossi, who was twenty-one in 1978, and was a potent threat in front of goal. The Argentinian will be key in a push to break back into the top three places.
The loss of Mateo Kovacic for €32m to Real Madrid was inevitable. Of course, the Croat is a fine player, but still has work to do, and the transfer fee pays for eighty percent of Kondogbia’s move. Mancini also highlighted that ‘we need to sell Mateo because of Financial Fair Play.’
Ahead of the season, this seems likely to be the best eleven for Roberto Mancini to choose ahead of the opener against Atalanta.
Samir Handanovic is the obvious choice in goal, with Juan Jesus and Montoya as the full-backs. It would be wise to not play Rannochia amongst strong interest from Everton, with Jeison Muirillo and Miranda set to make their Serie A debuts for the club.
Gary Medel should take the deep lying midfielder position, with Kondogbia and Brozovic slightly ahead. It has been suggested that Hernanes could flourish in the ‘trequartista’ position, with Jovetic playing off Icardi up front.
Unfortunately, finances are still causing the club trouble. After breaking FFP rules, a fine of six million was issued, with the threat that a further fourteen million would leave the accounts should Inter not adhere to the rules. Their Europa League squad has also been trimmed to 21, which will rise to 21 pending on conditions the following season.
With plans for AC Milan to move into a new stadium, the planned renovation of San Siro will bring extra revenue for Inter. This, alongside Mancini’s shrewd signings, could signal a return of La Grande Inter in Italy and Europe.