Lost amidst the summer transfer rumors swirling around Inter is the fact that that Walter Mazzarri’s contract is up in a little over 12 months, and signing the Inter coach to a new deal has to be high on club President’s Erik Thohir’s to-do list.
Thohir has more than once publically backed Mazzarri since he bought the club last year, but the former Napoli coach has yet to win over the hearts and minds of the Nerazzurri fans who are not impressed with his defensive minded, counter-attacking style of play.
The big question for Thohir is whether Walter Mazzarri to the right man to lead Inter back to the Scudetto?
Inter have been terribly inconsistent under Mazzarri this season, as the players have struggled to adapt to his coaching philosophy and style of play. There have been stretches when Inter looked like a top three side, but as we saw just a month ago, there have been stretches when Inter looked more like a mid-table side than Champions League contenders.
Alarmingly, in the big games this season, Roma (H), Napoli (A), Juventus (A), there has been a big gulf in class between Inter and the top sides that makes me question if Inter can finish in the top three next season.
So the question is, “are Inter better off now under Mazzarri than they were a year ago?”
A year ago at this point in the season Inter were in 8th place with 53 points from 36 games. Fast forward a year and Inter are in 5th place with 57 points from 36 games. That is only a four point difference between what was viewed as a disastrous season under Andrea Stramaccioni and what is being perceived as a good season under Mazzarri.
The number of goals scored is very similar, as the Nerazzurri scored 55 times in their first 36 goals last season and they have found the net, 57 times this season.
The noticeable difference between the two seasons is in the number of goals conceded. Inter leaked goals last season, letting in 52 goals in the first 36 games. Under Mazzarri, Inter have let in only 36 goals, a significant improvement, and one that fits into Mazzarri’s more defensive style of play.
I thought Inter were more tactically aware last season under Strama, who spent hours studying the opponent, identifying the weakness that his side could exploit in the game.
One of the criticism’s of Strama though, was that he spent so much time figuring out how to stop the opposition that he failed to develop his side’s own identity a clear style of play that they could impose on the opponent.
That is not the case with Mazzarri, who is a big fan of speed, power and strength. His sides prefer to play on the counter, attack down the wings, and are more reactive than proactive. No wonder then that Inter have the fifth best away record in Serie A this season and only the eleventh best home record.
My perception is that the decision making of the players was better a year ago. Far too often this season I have seen wide players cross the ball into a penalty box with one Inter player surrounded by four defenders. Or persist in taking low percentage shots from outside the penalty box when there have been teammates better placed. I cannot recall seeing as many mental mistakes last season as we see now.
What the Inter boss does bring into the dressing room is experience and a strong personality. That importance cannot be overstated especially with the careers of Javier Zanetti, Diego Milito, Walter Samuel and Esteban Cambiasso winding down. Big clubs need someone to step into that void and provide leadership. Mazzarri has the experience and communication skills to do that.
Since Jose Mourinho left in 2010, Inter have had a revolving manager’s door, with Mazzarri being the sixth manager to take charge at the club in just three years. Remarkably, Mourinho was the last Inter manager to handle preseason training for two consecutive seasons.
At some point all that upheaval and change is detrimental to the club, and you need to pick someone and stick with them.
While I am not a big fan of Mazzarri, changing managers for the sake of change does not work. Mourinho is never coming back. Diego Simeone is staying at Atletico.
Inter can do worse than Mazzarri, and signing him to a two-year contract extension will provide stability and give the team a platform to build on, heading into next season.
Do you agree or not? Would you bring Mazzarri back next season?