Following Antonio Candreva’s arrival in Milan, the first major transfer completed by China’s Suning Holders Group, Internazionale’s new owners have now made their first major boardroom decision – to cut ties with Roberto Mancini.
The Nerazzurri could be set for a positive campaign following the volatile Italian coach’s exit and the appointment of Frank de Boer, with a renewed sense of optimism now likely to inhabit the San Siro.
On the face of it, it seems a bold course of action. Sacking a manager with a glittering CV who has won titles at the club in previous years, as well as abroad with Manchester City, and doing so just two weeks prior to the start of the new Serie A campaign. But taking all factors into account, it may turn out to be a fantastic decision.
Mancini is not one who wins many friends wherever he goes. During the Italian’s first stint in charge of Inter, he angered former president Massimo Moratti by publicly announcing his intention to step down at the end of the season following a defeat to Liverpool in March 2008. Despite going back on this claim the very next day, the relationship between the pair remained frosty.
In his aforementioned role at Manchester similar occurrences took place. A public argument with star player Carlos Tevez in the 2011-12 campaign made headlines for much of the season. Mancini was then sacked towards the end of the following term after reportedly failing to achieve any of the club’s targets. In truth, he had fallen out and picked fights with that many players and the board, that he had to go in order to restore stability to the dressing room, as well as the club.
The 51-year-old departed from his next role at Galatasaray in similar circumstances after spending just one year with the Turkish giants, before he set off for his second stint in charge of Inter Milan.
Arriving in November 2014, Mancini did little to set the Nerazzurri back on the right track as previous coach Walter Mazzarri had temporarily derailed the club domestically, finishing eighth that season. The following transfer market, however, truly showcased the Italian’s erratic nature. Xherdan Shaqiri lasted less than half a year at the San Siro, while many others were shown the exit door – one of which was Croatian starlet Mateo Kovacic, a player Inter would have built their team around had the manager not endured a “strange relationship” with the player. 10 new faces arrived that summer, many of whom have now left or are on the outer due to the former figurehead’s treatment.
The season that ensued began brightly, though inevitably hit the rocks as Mancini fell out with a number of players once more and again lost the backing of both his charges and the board, with the team also lacking an identity in its on-field play. The erratic Italian was dragging Internazionale into the abyss with him, and they were lucky to finish the campaign in fourth place.
With new owners Suning Holders Group coming in and searching the market for youthful, vibrant players who will rejuvenate the club, Mancini was then at loggerheads with those above him once more.
He wanted a say in the transfers, even despite his woeful recent record in the market (Felipe Melo a prime example of this). He wanted to bring in players like Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabaleta and Branislav Ivanovic – names who are well past their prime and who would command astronomical wages. The new owners refused such a flawed policy and it became one argument too many.
This is the fourth time in-a-row Mancini has been released due to disputes with his employers. Toxic relationships with players and those above him, the building of sides that lack an identity and seemingly traverse a backwards path (particularly this Inter Milan side), a strangely deluded valuation of players, and the creation of obstructive environments exemplifies the Italian’s prior reigns at clubs he has managed at. It was also enough evidence this time around for the Nerazzurri’s new owners to decide upon parting ways with him and bringing in a man who has the credentials, as well as the style and tactical nous to lead the team forward. Enter Frank de Boer.
The Dutchman, by contrast, is a manager who believes in youth and has brought through a fair number of youngsters during his time as manager of Ajax. As well as this, the 46-year-old sets his sides up to play a certain brand of football that will excite Interisti and help the side develop an identity once more.
De Boer won four consecutive Eredivisie titles in his first four seasons at the helm of the Amsterdam giants. Despite failing to evolve further as a manager in the two seasons that followed, the role at Inter Milan provides the Dutchman the perfect platform to instill his forward-thinking philosophy into a talented group of players and achieve what Mancini could not.
The Champions League is a realistic target for de Boer and the Milanese club, so long as they do not let go of any key players – Mauro Icardi was one who the previous Inter boss was looking to offload. With a new mastermind now at the San Siro, hot prospects from around the globe may even be tempting to sign for Inter – given the Dutchman’s excellent track record with young players – and the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, new arrival Éver Banega and the aforementioned Icardi may flourish.
It is a time for much optimism at Internazionale. The new owners have began their tenure on the right-foot in cutting out the poisonous influence festering under Mancini’s watch, and a long awaited stability may return to the blue-half of Milan under de Boer.