What a roller coaster ride for Inter fans it’s been. Last season ended with the club achieving the treble, something unprecedented in Italian football history. But the treble winning boss had left, chasing the next mountain to conquer, leaving the lackluster Rafael Benitez to take over the mantle.
After a dismal start, in which the team labored to an Italian Super Cup win and a few half decent performances, the wheels simply came off. In a little over three months, the team went from being European champs to the objects of much derision – repeatedly getting thrashed by weaker teams. By early December the team was staring at depths of despair, looking totally disorganized, disinterested and lacking fight. The league chase was all but over with team falling behind table toppers and the eventual Scudetto winners, AC Milan, by 13 points.
December saw the rightful sacking of Rafael Benitez, the man whom almost every single Inter fan held responsible for the club’s plight. In came Leonardo, a legend at cross-town rivals Milan. In spite of the reservations of several Inter fans who didn’t warm up to him because of his past at Milan, Leonardo stemmed the rot immediately. On the psychological front, Leonardo got the team clicking and at one stage got them to within two points of Milan. But Leonardo’s weaknesses and inexperience which were very visible even during his time as coach of Milan came back to haunt his new club. His inability to sort out defenses became the biggest weapon for opposition coaches, as the title challenge petered out and the team suffered a humiliating exit in the Champions League. However the club did perform creditably in the Coppa Italia to deservedly win the consolation prize of the domestic cup.
Goal Of The season
Though the season was far from the heady highs of the previous one, it saw some stunning strikes. Some were scored by Samuel Eto’o, a beautiful volley by Thiago Motta against Napoli, Sneijder’s daisycutters. Two goals simply standout for their quality
Deki Stankovic’s effort from close to half line in the 2-5 loss at home to Schalke. Was it a blind punt? Well, Deki scored a very similar one against Genoa last season too. It’s a pity the final result didn’t bear any semblance to the goal it was.
Samuel Eto’s wonderful solo run past 5 Chievo players as he scores a consolation goal. What is it with stunning goals in losing games?
Best Team Performance Of The season
There was no game this season where the whole team performed with clockwork precision, something which was a hallmark of Mourinho’s era. The games in which almost everything went well were few and far between.
Inter 3-1 Napoli in Serie-A.
Leonardo’s first game as Inter coach. The team was still coming to terms with injuries and a new coach. Inter took the lead in the 3rd minute courtesy Thiago Motta, only for Napoli to equalize. Cambiasso and Motta ensured a happy ending as Edinson Cavani didn’t have a memorable night out. Given the circumstances it was just what the doctor ordered.
Worst Team Performance Of The Season
Werder Bremen 3-0 Inter
Sometimes your defense has an off day, other days your strikers just cannot score. But this was one game where the defense conked off, the strikers simply couldn’t connect and the midfielders couldn’t string 3 passes together. A game which will forever define the Benitez era.
Comeback Performance Of The Season
Bayern Munich 2-3 Inter
What a game it was. Inter had lost the home game 0-1 against Bayern and needed a win at the intimidating Allianz Arena. Samuel Eto’o gave Inter a dream start when he scored in the 4th minute to level scores on the aggregate. Julio Cesar’s fumble led to Gomez equalizing. Another error from Lucio gave Bayern the deserved lead and had Inter staring at elimination. Cesar then pulled off possibly the save of the season from a Thomas Mueller shot to keep slim hopes alive, before Inter pulled off a second half miracle. First a Wesley Sneijder and then a Goran Pandev goal just 2 minutes from time, brought on a remarkable comeback win.
There was another 3-2 win at home against Palermo where Inter fought back from being 0-2 down to score 3 second half goals. However given the enormity of the occasion, the Champions league R16 win just seals it.
Best Individual Performance In A Game
Not too many to cherish. However the hattrick by Samuel Eto’o at home against Werder Bremen in the 4-0 romp, wins this category outright.
Best Save Of The Year
Julio Cesar this season has made news more for his fumbles, rather than his saves. However two saves come to mind. First a stunning double save in the crazy 5-3 win over Roma at home. This could only be topped off by his save against Thomas Mueller at Munich, which possibly was a game defining one.
Player Of The Season
Samuel Eto’o without an iota of doubt
WTF Moment Of The Season
Chivu’s sneaky Mike Tyson act on Marco Rossi. Rightly suspended
Turkey Of The Season
Gobble gobble time. A close call between Christian Chivu and Diego Milito. The former was a walking disaster from the moment he stepped on to pitch, while the latter had a tough time living up to last season’s performance. Chivu wins it, but by just the smallest of margins.
The Alessio Secco Award For The Worst Signing Of The Season
Jonathan Biabiany. The boy could run and run well. But then he was supposed to be a footballer not an athlete. The only silver lining? He helped Inter reduce the price paid for Pazzini.
What A Buy!
Yuto Nagatumo – the pint sized Japanese was acquired on a loan with a fixed price option. With an almost infinite lung capacity and being equally good at defending and attacking, “Naga” has already won over Inter fans. At €5m the left-back looks like a steal. The additional fans he will bring from the Land of Rising Sun is always a bonus.
The Biggest Kick In The Groin
Ibrahimovic’s winning penalty at the San Siro. It’s hard to watch your hero in the colors of your hated rivals. And to see him put a game winning performance in front of your home crowd only makes it worse. Ouch.
The Face-Palm Moment Of The Season
Conceding 5 at home against “mighty” Schalke. Was that a defense? The 0-3 reverse against Milan in what was billed as a Scudetto showdown comes real close. The two games defined everything that is bad about Leonardo as a coach.