As Inter continue to look for a new head-coach, Adam Summerton assesses the qualities required of Stefano Pioli’s eventual successor
A unifier, a diplomat, a leader – some might even say a magician. The next head coach of one of European football’s biggest names will need the first three of those assets at a bare minimum. He’ll be tough to find, and it may be equally as difficult to persuade that person that they should take on what is one of the toughest jobs in football right now.
In all likelihood getting the ‘right’ man is going to cost Suning, the club’s owners, an absolute fortune in wages because they’re border-line desperate and aren’t in a position to take a chance on anything but the tried and tested – the candidates know that and they may also see it as ‘danger money’. Many managerial reputations have taken a dent at San Siro since Jose Mourinho delivered the last of the club’s Serie A and Champions League titles in 2010.
Just in the last nine months we’ve seen Mancini, De Boer and Pioli in charge. All of them, even De Boer (remember Juventus?), had moments of hope and positivity. Inter were top of the table at Christmas 2015 under Mancini – the initial turnaround under Pioli was impressive, soon after his appointment they went on a nine-game winning streak. Nothing lasts for long though – as good as things might look in any given moment, the belief of supporters remains fragile because they know a relapse is never far away.
I think it’s pretty clear, even to the most casual observers, that the coaches who’ve been and gone haven’t necessarily been the main problem, yet the ‘right’ one could be the solution. It needs someone who is not just a top-coach but also a great manager to bring together a club that appears, from the outside, disjointed and dis-unified. He has to be the most important person and the best paid person at the club. No member of staff, particularly at a club trying to get out of the situation Inter find themselves in, can be more important or more powerful than the head coach, and the players need to know that.
Improving the mentality of the squad will be extremely difficult, a big job that may require some incisive surgery, but if progress can be made in this respect I have no doubt that good things can happen. The owners are strong willed, determined and well financed, and the existing squad, purely on paper, is hugely under-achieving. If Inter fail to qualify for Europe it won’t be because of a lack of quality. Handanovic is one of the world’s best goalkeepers, Icardi one of the world’s top centre-forwards – Gagliardini is seen as one of Italy’s most promising midfielders, Perisic is admired by other big clubs across Europe – the likes of Kondogbia and Joao Mario have so much more to give. Far lesser squads have achieved much more, and in the right hands the Nerazzurri can once again start punching their sizeable weight.