THE DARK YEARS – Fall from grace
Setting a record
In 1989, the Serie-A was probably at its all-time competitive best. AC Milan had the talented Dutch trio, Napoli was led by a midget Argentine genius. In addition to that, teams like Juventus and Sampdoria provided formidable competition to any team seeking the title. Inter with its German backbone of Matthaeus and Brehme won the Serie-A with a record 58 points in 34 games, 11 points ahead of Diego Maradona‘s Napoli. Remember those were the days when a win got you 2 points, and not 3.
Juergen Klinsmann joined the club in the summer of 1989, and Inter fans were hoping for another year of domination. But Maradona had other ideas. He was in inspirational form, helping Napoli lift their second (and till date, last) Scudetto. Inter suffered a mid-season injury crisis with both Matthaeus and first choice center back Mandorlini spending an extended spell on the sidelines. Inter finished the season, a disappointing third behind both Napoli and AC Milan. A year later history repeated itself, but this time with Vialli and Mancini’s Sampdoria as the protagonists. Mandorlini had another poor season as Inter finished third behind surprise winners Sampdoria, level on points with Milan but with a worse goal difference. The only consolation prize was winning the UEFA Cup, beating Roma in the final.
The downfall begins
The Scudetto winning manager, Giovanni Trapattoni, left the club in the summer of 1991. Trapattoni had unfortunately never gained the confidence or affection of Inter fans, partly because he was a legend at AC Milan. His ten-year trophy laden spell at Juventus prior to his arrival at Inter didn’t help matters either. Two years of failure and Trapattoni was shown the door. Little did Inter fans know that his deparure would trigger a managerial domino effect that would see no less than 17 managers being shown the door over the next 13 years.
The next season (1991-92) saw Corrado Orico sacked midway, and Inter legend Luis Suarez brought in as a replacement. The team ended up finishing a disappointing 8th in the league. The famed German trio left the club at the end of the season. To add insult to injury, Inter fans watched in envy and frustration as their city rivals AC Milan won the league in style, finishing the season unbeaten in the league.
Rivals enjoy the best of times
Inter began the 1992-93 season in style and lead the table after a few initial rounds. But quality finally showed as Marco van Basten and his Dutch compatriots inspired Milan to a second successive Scudetto. The next two years were to cause even further disappointment with three new managers being appointed and fired. In the red and black half of the city, the club set a new record winning their third European cup in six years, dismantling the dream team from Barcelona in the final. In the 1993-94 season, when AC Milan had conquered Europe, Inter had a miserable year finishing 13th just a point above relegation. The UEFA Cup won that season was a poor consolation.
Juventus in the meantime had lured two officials from Napoli. This would herald the beginning of a decade of domestic dominance (and later, ultimately lead to their downfall). In 1995, under their new General Director Luciano Moggi and Coach Marcelo Lippi, Juventus won their first Scudetto in a decade. Inter, in the meanwhile, struggled to even qualify for European places.
High hopes for the future
In 1995 – Massimo Moratti, the son of the legendary Angelo Moratti took over as President of Inter. His agenda was simple: ‘to bring back the glory days enjoyed by the club during his father’s reign’. Such an ambitious agenda would cost money. And soon Inter would embark on a spending spree, unmatched till Real Madrid unveiled the era of the Galacticos.