The Internazionale Story – Chapter 5 : Untainted By The Scandal

New era begins – Domestic dominance (2006-09)

Two seasons of slow rebuilding under the Mancini/Orialli/Branca era got a sudden fillip as many teams in the Italian League found themselves mired in a scandal. This scandal would cause the word ‘Calciopoli’ to soon be added to football infamy.

Inter, however, found themselves untainted by the scandal that was engulfing the rest of the league. Once the verdicts were out, league leaders Juventus were stripped off their last two titles and relegated to Serie-B. Other teams like Milan, Lazio and Fiorentina were given points penalties.

A record breaking season..

The 2006-07 season started on a strange note as Inter found themselves crowned potential champions by default. With the strongest team relegated and Milan starting with an 8-point penalty, Inter were overwhelming favorites to win the Scudetto.

In addition to being relegated, Juventus were forced to sell some of their best players and Inter managed to capture Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira. The former would go on to make history at the club, in many ways. Fans were looking forward to a dream partnership of Ibrahimovic and Adriano, and Hernan Crespo arrived on loan from Chelsea. However, the season also saw the departure of Juan Sebastian Veron after two seasons at Inter.

FC BARCELONA PRESS CONFERENCE

Barca’s Zlatan is a shadow of Inter’s Zlatan

Even though Inter started firm favorites, their past failures – especially the one in 2002 – still haunted club fans. After all 8 points was a gap that could, in theory, be surmounted by the Red and Black side of Milan. Inter began the season slowly and by October, stuttered to 18 points from 8 games. Any suggestions of an implosion in their campaign would soon be put to rest.

What followed was a record breaking run of 18 continuous wins (breaking the past record in a Tier-1 league set by Bayern Munich). Inter also set the record for most points scored in a league season and quickest title win. Inter had won the league title with five games to spare, after taking a 16-point lead over Roma at the end of round 33. The only blot was a loss against Roma which ended their hopes of finishing the season unbeaten.

However, Inter’s domestic victory was in a way overshadowed by yet another European conquest by their cross-town rivals.

European misery

The 2006-07 European campaign started disastrously with Inter losing their first two games and then managing to finish 2nd in the group behind Bayern Munich. In the round of 16, Inter took on Valencia. In the first leg at home, in spite of totally dominating the game, Inter could only manage a 2-2 draw. The second leg saw a goalless draw with Valencia progressing on away goals.

The game also saw some shameful behavior by both sets of players, with a mass brawl breaking out at the end of the game. The game demonstrated the mental weakness Inter had, in Europe at least.

End of Mancio’s tenure

The 2007-08 season saw the Serie-A return to normalcy with Juventus making a swift return to top-flight. However, having lost many of their stars, they were still going through a rebuilding phase. Roma and Milan were expected to challenge Inter for the Scudetto crown.

Inter strengthened their squad by acquiring Cristian Chivu from Roma and David Suazo from Cagliari. Domestically, Inter began where they left off and raced to a 11-point lead at the top of the table by the end of round 20. However season-ending injuries to three main defenders (Walter Samuel, Ivan Cordoba and Chivu) saw the lead cut to just one point by the end of the penultimate round.

This set up a tense finale as Inter needed a win at Parma to guarantee the Scudetto. Having been through a similar situation in 2002, it was nerve wracking for Inter fans. At the hour mark, with the score still tied at 0-0 and Roma winning their game, Roberto Mancini brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic from the bench, and the rest as they say, is history.

However, this would prove to be Mancini’s last game as he paid the price for yet another European failure. The season also saw the stunning decline of Adriano as alcohol destroyed a player rated as the best no. 9 in Europe, just two seasons ago.

Roberto Mancini Manager Manchester City 2009/10

Mancini helped Inter back on it’s feet

Inter had again failed to go past the second round in the Champions League, falling to English giants – Liverpool. The aftermath of the loss saw Mancini deciding to quit at the end of the season, before revoking his decision. However it is believed that Moratti had already made his decision to sack Mancini by then.

And like that, Inter ended its association with its most successful manager in 40 years.

The Mourinho Era Begins

It was widely believed that Moratti had decided to sack Mancini at the end of February and contracted Mourinho as the next coach. The Portuguese arrived at the club and surprised everyone with his command over the Italian language including the native Lombardy accent.

The coach decided to approach the Italian game with his trademark 4-3-3 formation consisting of two wingers who would track back to defend. Unlike normal Italian practice, where the director of sport signs players fitting into coach’s philosophy, Jose also got to sign players he wanted. So in came Ricardo Quaresma, Amantino Mancini and Sulley Muntari at a net cost of 45m Euros.

The team initially struggled to adapt to the new formation. Their cause was not helped by the two new wingers who turned out to be the worst signings of the season. The first five games saw Inter put up unconvincing performances as they struggled to beat relative minnows while losing to cross-town rivals Milan.

Mourinho quickly recognized the core of the problem and dumped his formation along with the two wingers. Inter immediately switched back to previous year’s formation and the results improved. They won the league in style finishing 10 points ahead of second placed Juventus.

In Europe however, Inter again struggled to beat opponents who in-theory had a worse team, losing against Panathinaikos and Werder Bremen, before finishing second in the group. The round of 16 saw the team beaten soundly by Manchester United. The repeated failure in Europe led many to question the very rationale of bringing in Jose Mourinho.

But all that was about to change next year.

  • redNblack_blood

    an club with 9-10 international players wins the league big deal, i know dis was d basic reason for which this club was formed but what bout giving local players a chance?????? n once 4 + 7 rule comes into play what will a pseudo Italian club like inter would do i can’t even fathom……

  • redNblack_blood

    not even a single Italian in starting XI n they are proud of being Italian champions… embarrassing!!!!!!!!

  • Inter4ever

    At least we don’t have referee in out starting 14! Proud to be Italian champions :)

  • redNblack_blood

    wait till the Calciopoli hearings are complete…. dnt give us referee thing we lost 89-90 to napoli thnks to wonderful referring against verona in the penultimate game….. bt seriously just 4 players from italy in the squad of 25 all of whom start on the bench and you are PROUD of it!!!!!!!!! WOW GUD FOR YOU TRY CONVINCING THAT TO URSELF……..

  • Firstly look at the name.. Internazionale of Milano.

    Second for all the gloating about Italian talent from the red and black team… tell me how many Italian players in the club have graduated from the club academy? Let me tell you the answer will contain a big round character. Secondly after the great Paolo Maldini has the club produced even ONE PLAYER good enough for the national team.

    It is just that the club bought some Italian players, and Inter true to its name bought foreign players. At least our academy has produced players good enough for the National team. Only that our transfers have been screwed up to let them leave on the cheap.

    And then they come to lecture us about Italian character of the team. At least the Old Lady does something for the national team.

  • Somnath

    I agree with Arvind actually. While it is valid criticism that Inter don’t field a lot of Italian players currently, it is true that they are remaining true to their tradition. The club was formed to let foreigners play in Italy. So they remaining true to what their original intention was.

    And Inter have contributed steadily to Italian NT. More than Milan. Fachetti & Mazzola played crucial parts in Euro68 win & WC70 final. Bergomi was one of the best defenders in WC82 along with 3 Juve players.

    Milan have had their share of foreigners too. The swedish trio of Gunnar Gren-Nordahl-Lidholm in 40s-50s or the Dutch trio in early 90s.

  • @ arvind – i know the name and y the club was formed…. i guess i have written that in my 1st comment that they are being true to their name but look at the present situation of Italian youngsters if they are allowed to mix up and play in a team with some of the greatest international players which team like Inter, Juventus and Milan possess it will only help in nourishing them, the real test for them comes once they are out of the academy but what do u do then u sell dem off. Obviously an established international player will be better of then your young academy lad, but give that guy a chance…They give them no opportunity in their own club once he graduates…
    I dont like the idea of a national champion team without any local player as simple as that. Ur a fan of this and hence u support them and i am not. Thr is nothing wrong with having foreign legs in Inter’s case outside players were their foundation but at the same time give ur youngsters a chance to perform in the top clubs with them don’t sell them off the National squad will only improve

  • @ arvind – i know the name and y the club was formed…. i guess i have written that in my 1st comment that they are being true to their name but look at the present situation of Italian youngsters if they are allowed to mix up and play in a team with some of the greatest international players which team like Inter, Juventus and Milan possess it will only help in nourishing them, the real test for them comes once they are out of the academy but what do u do then u sell dem off. Obviously an established international player will be better of then your young academy lad, but give that guy a chance…They give them no opportunity in their own club once he graduates…
    I don’t like the idea of a national champion team without any local player as simple as that. Ur a fan of this and hence u support them and i am not. Thr is nothing wrong with having foreign legs in Inter’s case outside players were their foundation but at the same time give ur youngsters a chance to perform in the top clubs with them don’t sell them off the National squad will only improve

  • @ arvind – “how many Italian players in the club have graduated from the club academy? Let me tell you the answer will contain a big round character”

    well lemme remind u and burst your bubble. M sure you must heard of these names CostaCurta,Albertini and these names are straight from of the top of my head i am sure there will be more to add to this list; they made to the national squad after Maldini. And they did well i suppose!!!!!!!!

    Before waging a verbal war do know this that with those two names i was not suggesting the Milan has provided more players for the squad than Inter. This was only a reply to your comment “that after the great Paolo Maldini has the club produced even ONE PLAYER good enough for the national team.”
    Well as it turns out we have.. and pretty decent ones also.

  • @ Sachin Madaan… I have been following Italian footie for more than a decade, so I know the names inside out

    My questions were more pertinent to the SQUAD AS OF TODAY.

    So read it carefully AFTER PAOLO MALDINI. Billy Costacurta and Albertini were Maldini’s peers in youth team.

    My question still stands, rephrased as since Maldini/Billy/Albertini which Italian player has come out of Milan youth ranks.

    I thought living in past was Berlusconi’s idea.

    Let me simplify further.

    1) Among the Italians in AC Milan squad TODAY how many were produced by the Milan Academy.

    Before you search , Nesta – Lazio kid, Rino – Peruggia, Ambrosini – Cessna, Inzaghi – Piacenza

    And finally Pirlo – From Inter

    The only player who came out of Milan Academy is Luca Antonini.

    2) Among the national team today , how many players came out of AC Milan academy. The answer again is ZERO.

    Yet you talk as if AC Milan is some sort of blessing for Calcio while Inter is a curse.

    In the past decade and a half Milan signed up mature Italian players from other clubs. I really don’t understand how this can IMPROVE Italian football. The players were anyway mature enough.

    I can understand if the criticism had come from Juventus fans, not from Milan.

  • @ ARVIND- both of thm played wid maldini i knw infact maldini played under the captaincy of costacurta, u wid ur 10 + yr of italain football knowledge would agree with me i hope, but they made into the national squad after maldini and that was ur initial question .. lets say i handled it tactfully 😛

    and trust me i dont have too search for the roots of these players. Your following Serie a for 10 yrs well good for u but i know a little bit bout that league too “OF COURSE NOT AS MUCH AS YOU”.
    So as far as the searching part is concerned I’ll politely suggest to you to please please please keep that suggestion in your bag..

    And from where in the world did u come out with the conclusion that i am comparing Milan with Inter in this discussion. ” if you thought i was implying that because of my user name then so are so wrong my man” It was your comment that made this discussion start. All i said was if there had been local players in the squad of the national champions they scene of the national squad would have been better. I stand by it. Its not rocket science you know.

    It is a valid point for which Inter has been criticized by an average Italian football fan, over the years (again you would know more bout it I am sure).
    You got into the inter-city debate unnecessarily just my user name i suppose….

  • Kurt

    @arvind.. Ohh You’ve been following Italian Football for a decade.. Why do you keep boasting about this as if its an achievement.. Football is a passion dude.. follow it for urself and not for others.. Do i look like I care for how long you’ve been following football.. And do not doubt other’s knowledge just because you are old

  • Hi, great article!! I got you bookmarked. Thanks and best wishes

  • Blue for life

    Empty vessel sounds much