Jose Mourinho took Inter to their greatest ever hour, but his short-termism is also responsible for their current demise
The 'Special One' had a huge impact on the Italian club, but the hangover from his two years in charge has resulted in them struggling at the foot of the Serie A table
Jose Mourinho, Real Madrid
By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor
“I am an Interista and I’m suffering,” said Jose Mourinho last month when questioned over the ongoing malaise as San Siro. With his old Inter side languishing in a position they never came close to during his two-year tenure, he showed all the concern of a father whose child had grown up and left home only to go off the rails.
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Inter’s inability to put a string of results together has cost them dear this term, but it also blighted them during certain stages of the 2010-11 campaign too. It is all a far cry from the Mourinho days, during which the Nerazzurri never once recorded successive defeats. In fact, they only lost four games in each season under the Portuguese, a figure they’ve already surpassed in the first two months of 2011-12.
Almost every single stat possible backs up the belief among Inter fans that the club has simply never recovered from the loss of Mourinho, but some are of the opinion that it is exactly because of the timing of his exit that they are struggling quite as badly as they are right now.
JOSE MOURINHO'S AGEING SQUADS
Average age (arrival) Average age (exit)
Porto 2002-04 26.6 27.0
Chelsea 2004-07 26.3 27.3
Inter 2008-10 29.4 29.6
While Massimo Moratti’s decision to take a step back from the forefront of the transfer market due to the restrictions of Financial Fair Play has doubtless had an impact, it is the structures that Mourinho put into place – or rather didn’t put in place – which have left the Inter first team looking aged, ragged and lethargic 18 months on from his departure.
The ‘Special One’ had already taken Porto and Chelsea to unprecedented successes at home and in Europe before arriving at Appiano Gentile, but had also left his former clubs with older first-team squads than he had inherited.
Upon taking over an Inter squad with an average age of 29.4, it seemed unlikely that Mourinho could continue that trend at San Siro. However, his push for instant success, regardless of the relative seniority of those at the heart of the team, had its downside, despite the overwhelming achievements on the pitch.
With a treble-winning side based around Lucio, Walter Samuel, Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Diego Milito, with the younger Wesley Sneijder at the controls, Inter went on a charge at the end of the 2009-10 season which had far-reaching consequences.
INTER WITH AND WITHOUT MOURINHO
W25 D9 L4 (84 pts)
W24 D10 L4 (82 pts)
W23 D7 L8 (76 pts)
W2 D2 L5 (8 pts)
Their poor form at the beginning of Rafael Benitez’s reign could partly be blamed on Mourinho’s propensity for playing his first-choice ‘golden oldies’ whenever possible. The Champions League-winning boss was lining up his exit long before Zanetti lifted ‘Old Big Ears’ in Madrid, knowing that the squad’s need for a freshening up, plus the forthcoming exertions of the 2010 World Cup, meant a testing period ahead for whoever was to lead Inter into the following campaign.
Eighteen months later, and with a long, tiring 2010-11 season having been negotiated rather than enjoyed, Inter have never recovered. But, contrary to popular opinion, it is not Mourinho’s exit that they have still to get over, but more his method of team-building.
His short-termism, which has drawn many comparisons to the late, great Hungarian coach Bela Guttmann, who famously claimed ‘the third season is fatal’, has left the Nerazzurri scrambling for answers. While they are in desperate need now of short-term results, the lack of long-term planning between 2008 and 2010 has left them requiring a much-needed injection of fresh legs that their current squad cannot provide.
Moratti must take some of the blame for resting on his laurels immediately after the treble success last summer, but Mourinho did ‘his’ Inter no favours at all when it came to their forward planning. His style brought trophies but didn’t bring stability, and the club have yet to recover.
Zanetti, Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic were recently sent out as a midfield three boasting an average age of 34.2, and the Mourinho hangover looks set to continue for some time yet, with a 10-point gap separating Claudio Ranieri’s side from the Champions League spots, and there are no signs to suggest a dramatic turnaround is just around the corner.
Ranieri yesterday warned he is ‘no Wizard of Oz’, but while Mourinho worked wonders in his time at the club, it is also as a consequence of his tenure that Inter need a magician of fairytale proportions right now.