For the past few months there has been a lot of talk about having to rebuild and rejuvenate the Inter squad and as I've said in my previous articles this will only solve part of issues that are affecting the Nerazzurri so badly this season. One of the major changes that needs making is that Massimo Moratti needs to look very closely at the people he has running the different aspects of the club and get rid of those that aren't helping to move the club forward, replacing them with the right team of people who can turn the club into a proper international business and increase revenues in a way that clubs like Manchester United and Barcelona have been doing for years.
One position that desperately needs changing in the opinion of nearly all Interisti is that of technical director Marco Branca, who after years of mediocre or disastrous transfer dealings must be shown the door before the summer so we can move the club forward with someone more suited to Inter's new project like fan favourite Lele Oriali or even, as rumoured by both French and Italian press, a return for ex coach Leonardo but this time in Branca's position.
In this article though I'm just going to look at the rebuilding and rejuvenation of the squad and my vision of what Inter should do this summer to not only produce a competitive team again next season but also save the club some money so in the future we are ready for UEFA's FFP rules, and also help moving towards owning our own stadium and eventually even be in a position to once again purchase the world's superstar players.
Of course every great team needs a coach that is capable of leading them to glory and in my opinion that man is already keeping the head coach's seat warm on the Nerazzurri bench, this man is of course Andrea Stramaccioni, I know he's relatively inexperienced having only ever coached youth teams until his appointment as Inter's caretaker but he has quickly gained the respect of the Inter players (including the old guard like Javier Zanetti) and from what I've seen so far he has got a good tactical eye that hasn't been seen at Inter since Jose Mourinho left in 2010.
As well as understanding the game from a tactical angle, his man management is top-notch and within a week of taking over from Claudio Ranieri he had reunited his players to perform well as a team again and he reinstalled the belief in themselves that they can play well and win games. This is something that under Ranieri's leadership had deteriorated to a point where morale was at an all time low and the performances were embarrassing to say the least. Another big advantage of giving Stramaccioni the job for next season would be the money the club would save due to him already being an employee of the club, so there would be no costs to buy out his contract that would be involved with signing the likes of Marcelo Biesla. Plus with him being unexperienced in coaching a top flight team he wouldn't be able to demand as large a wage as some of the other higher profile candidates would, which when all summed up from a business point of view it's a no-brainer in my opinion to sign a talented up coming coach and in the process save the club quite a bit of money.
As Stramaccioni has shown in his few matches leading Inter so far he has three preferred tactics which I happen to think are perfect for Inter to produce a balanced and entertaining football match that can once again take us to the top of not only Serie A but I'm confident will also eventually help us regain our European and World crowns.
The 4-3-3 formation is what I'd consider to be the more defensive setup for the squad ideal for taking on tougher opponents or away to an opponent that is in good home form.
In this formation the backline of defenders should stand firm as the last line of defence against the attacking team with the left back and right back staying back to help the central defenders form a wall across the width of the pitch.
All three midfielders should be fairly defensive minded with the central player dropping back as an anchor for the defence when not in possession almost acting as an additional defender. The left and right sided midfielders are responsible for controlling the midfield area and connecting the play between the defence and the attacking players.
The two wide forwards have the most running to do in this formation and are not only responsible for dropping to wide attacking midfield positions to collect the ball from the midfielders but also to take the play forward and create chances in the box by crossing in to the striker (who roams the box to find space) from wide or even attacking the goal themselves.
The 4-2-3-1 formation is one of my favourites and as you can see from the picture it brings more of an attacking mentality to the squad. In this formation one of the three midfielders from the 4-3-3 takes up the trequartista role behind a lone striker and the two wide forwards play a little further back bringing the width of the formation back in to a midfield position while also moving forward with the ball to return the wide attacking advantage of the 4-3-3.
As the deeper midfield is reduced to two players both must be defensive midfielders, though the ideal is to have one that can cover the defence in an anchor role and the other to be a box to box player that will connect the play between the defence and the playmaker or wingers.
The left and right defenders in this formation play more of a wingback role and when the team is in possession should play further forward than the defensive line to give the formation more passing options and in turn retain the momentum of the play.
The 4-3-2-1 or as it's also known the Christmas tree formation has also been used a couple of times by Stramaccioni since the return of Wesley Sneijder, and is probably the formation that has the most potential for creating chances and also balancing both the attacking and defending sides of the squad.
By playing two playmakers behind the lone striker, these can be used to great effect by holding up play while the other gets in to a better position and also they can move forward to give extra options in the opponents box.
The build up play from the defence is controlled by the two wingbacks that will have the option of passing the ball on to the left or right midfielders then continue their runs to create a one - two passing opportunity with the midfield players dropping back to cover the space left by the wide defenders, or alternatively the midfielders can take the ball forward and create plays of their own with the attacking midfielders.
The central midfielder in this formation provides the engine of the squad, holding the center of the field and when necessary holding up the ball to give hs teammates the chance to find better positions to take the ball forward again.
As you can see all three of these options are interchangeable even during a match if needed and produce the attacking football that can win games and provides entertainment for those watching which in turn will make more people want to watch Inter play, increasing our fanbase and ultimately bring in more revenue for the club.
Players I feel must leave this summer
Inter's new project will mean that certain players will be surplus to requirement or will have to be sacrificed to fund the changes that need to be made within the squad. So who are these players I hear you ask? The obvious ones are some of our 'old guard' whose contracts are coming to an end for example Cristian Chivu, Ivan Cordoba and Sulley Muntari. It has been reported recently that both Chivu and Cordoba have been offered contract extensions and I hope this doesn't happen as it really is time for both of these players to leave.
This season Inter have had a few players on loan with the option to buy at the end of the season and two of these that should not be signed permanently are Angelo Palombo and Mauro Zarate. Palombo has failed to make any sort of impact on the squad since he joined on loan and the fact that he is in his 30's adds extra weight to the fact that he isn't a player we want to spend our money on. Zarate on the other hand has proved a useful player under the guidance of Stramaccioni but his attitude as a team player is still questionable and the fact that Lazio are valuing him at 15-16 million Euros makes him extremely overpriced in my opinion and so he must return to his parent club.
Other players that need to be sold or released this summer are:
Paolo Orlandoni - Inter's third choice keeper has only played six times since he signed in the 05/06 season and as he will be 40 in August he is never going to challenge for a starting spot so maybe it's time he retired.
Maicon - Even though he still continues to be a great player I feel it's time we cashed in on our legendary wingback, he isn't getting any younger and it is widely agreed that he isn't quite the player he was a couple of seasons ago. Maicon is also one of our most valuable assets and should bring us some much-needed funds if we sell him this summer while his value is still fairly good.
Lucio - This is another tough one for me as Lucio is an awesome defender but his age is catching up with him and he isn't as quick as he used to be, this season he has also made some questionable decisions during games that have led him to be regarded more and more as a liability to the team.
Macdonald Mariga - Currently on loan at Parma and out with a serious injury, I had high hopes for Mariga when he was playing for Inter and I still believe he will develop in to a good defensive midfielder but I just don't think he's good enough to compete for a starting place in the team against some of the other players we have available in his position and so regrettably it's time for him to move on permanently.
Dejan Stankovic - Deki has been a loyal servant of Inter since he signed from Lazio in 2004 but this season it has become apparent that his age is catching up with him and even though Jose Mourinho had dropped him from the starting eleven in 2009/10 he has managed to get back in to the lineups since 'the special one' left. As I've said several times this season when playing all he seems capable of doing is firing hopeful long balls up field and taking potshots at goal from distance, no longer does there seem to be any thought about his teammates positions around him, and for this reason I don't feel he is of Inter's standard any longer.
Diego Forlan - In his debut season with Inter he has been plagued by injury but even so he has been by far Inter's biggest flop this season, the striker who was prolific for both his country and Atletico Madrid has scored just twice in 20 appearances for the Nerazzurri and has done nothing to gain the loyalty or respect from the Inter fans. It's no great secret that I was against his signing last summer as Samuel Eto'os replacement and he has proved me right that he shouldn't be in our squad.
Luc Castaignos - When he signed for Inter early last year there was a lot of talk about his potential and that he was to be the future of Inter's strike force but in the games he has played in the Nerazzurri colours he has failed to impress and the fact that three different coaches seem reluctant to include him in match squads suggest that he's failing to make an impression in training too. Maybe like Forlan he just isn't suited to Italian football, but regardless there is talk of clubs like Liverpool being interested in signing him so we may as well get a return on him and put the money to good use.
Wesley Sneijder - By far Inter's most valuable asset and a true world-class player but after years of flirting with the likes of Manchester United and a season of injuries is it time to sacrifice our star player for the good of the club? I believe it is, with the European championships coming up this summer I'm hoping Sneijder has a great tournament to increase his value, so we can get as much as possible for him. Don't get me wrong despite the various gripes I've had with him this season I wouldn't be upset if he stays at Inter but he is the one player that can bring the most transfer revenue in to the club and its money that is desperately needed to fund the new project.
If all goes to plan selling these should give us at least 50 million Euros to spend on players we need.
Inter's new squad (According to 'il Padrino')
Against popular belief I don't think Inter needs to buy many players this summer, obviously we need to secure the signatures of our two loaned midfielders Andrea Poli and Fredy Guarin, both of these players have already stated to the press that they want to stay at Inter and both have buy out clauses in their loan agreements so we can pretty much say these deals are done and dusted. So who else do we need? In my humble opinion that leaves a need for just a prolific striker, a left back and a young, strong defender.
For the striker I think Inter should push strongly to bring Ezequiel Lavezzi from Napoli and even though he will cost us between 25 - 30 million Euros he would be worth every cent, with his experience in the Italian game and his undeniable skill. If Lavezzi can't be bought then we should buy back Mattia Destro from Siena instead. For the leftback position we should sign the Manchester City player we've been linked with for some time, Aleksandar Kolarov, as his ability to run the flank and also defend well will be very useful to the Inter squad.
In the central defence we need a talented young player to replace Lucio and I was thinking either Jan Vertonghen or Gregory van der Wiel from Ajax but the player I would choose to buy for Inter would be their teammate and also very talented youngster Toby Alderweireld who is strong , good on the ball and he has good anticipation aswell as having a good shot for a defender.
The rest of the squad would be made up of existing first team players and promoted primavera players, this would give us a good starting basis for the new project and also give us the ability to challenge in all the competitions we'll be involved in next season.
My full squad including backups would be:
Julio Cesar would stay as first choice for at least another season with youngster Raffaele Di Gennaro playing as his backup while veteran Luca Castellazzi would be kept on as the third choice.
Captain Javier Zanetti will play in rotation with both Marco Davide Faraoni and also Jonathan who should be brought back from his loan at Parma. Controversially I think the 2012/13 season should be Zanetti's last as a player and should be phased out of the squad over the season.
The first choice leftback will be new arrival Aleksandar Kolarov with Yuto Nagatomo as his back up. Juan Jesus can also play this position if needed so he is included as a leftback and centerback.
The two first choice centerbacks will be Toby Alderweireld and also Andrea Ranocchia who I think deserves another season to prove that he can live up to his potential. These two will be backed up by Walter Samuel, Juan Jesus, Ibrahima Mbaye and Luca Caldirola who will return from his loan spell at Brescia.
Esteban Cambiasso will be our main anchorman and also Andrea Poli and Fredy Guarin will also be first choices depending on the formation played, along with a backup from Alfred Duncan who impressed with our Primavera squad and Lorenzo Crisetig. Joel Obi will also be a backup for both the defensive and offensive midfield.
Depending on the formation used these players will play in either the attacking midfield roles or flanking the striker in the 4-3-3 formation. The first choices here will be Ricky Alvarez, Phillipe Coutinho and Joel Obi with Daniel Bessa and Rodrigo Alborno as backup players.
As all three of the suggested formations only require one striker the competition for this position will be strong but the first choice will be new arrival Ezequiel Lavezzi or Mattia Destro with Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Milito next in line for the spot.
Of course all these depend on how the players perform in training and as Stramaccioni has said before he always chooses his squad from the best performers in training. If Inter are struck with injury problems that decimate the squad in a way that has happened in the last two seasons then we must rely on getting cover from our primavera squad and having faith in our youth team to provide the needed backup players.
Of course not all of you will agree with my plan of action and there are many players we would all love to see playing in our colours, but this is what I see as a good compromise to bring in more youth while keeping some experience and still being competitive. If you strongly disagree with anything I've said in this article or want to share your own opinion please feel free to share in the comments box below.
At the moment only Massimo Moratti knows what his plans are for the summer but whatever he decides we can be certain it's going to be a very interesting summer for both Inter and all us Interisti around the (Nerazzurri)World.