Firing Frank de Boer won’t fix a broken Inter Milan
Inter Milan have announced the firing of manager Frank de Boer less than three months after hiring the Dutchman. De Boer lost seven out of his first 14 matches, and much of the blame has to fall on his shoulders for the club’s poor start. However, Inter Milan’s problems don’t end with De Boer’s management; The club is directionless and without identity, and it extends far beyond just the coaching position.
Inter Milan have been poor for a long time now. They haven’t finished higher than fourth in Serie A since the 2010/11 season, and they haven’t won a single trophy since that season. Their single biggest win since that period of relative success was a 2-1 victory over Juventus, and that came under de Boer in September. That’s not the record of a good club. That’s barely even the record of a decent club, and it goes back well before de Boer.
Jose Mourinho left for Real Madrid in 2010 following his unprecedented treble success. Since that treble win, Inter have changed ownership twice, moving from longtime owner Massimo Moratti, to an Indonesian consortium headed by DC United owner Erick Thohir, to their current Chinese ownership, the Suning Sports group. Even with the new ownership group, Inter’s management is a confusing situation, with Thohir’s people still running the day-to-day operations. In short, it’s a mess at the San Siro.
Just two months after becoming majority owners, and only 15 days before the start of the season, Suning parted ways with then-manager Roberto Mancini, hiring de Boer 24 hours later, making the Dutchman the ninth manager at the club since Mourinho departed.
Moving to a new league in an unfamiliar country and culture was always going to be a struggle for de Boer, but with two weeks of preseason, no time to bring in any of his own players, and a wildly short leash, the Dutch Experiment was destined to fail from the start.
Inter spent big this summer, but their transfer policy was scattershot to say the least. They failed to properly strengthen the defense, and signed three wingers in addition to the plethora of wide players already at the club, ostensibly to compete for two spots. They signed Caner Erkin, who was immediately deemed not good enough for the team and sent off to Turkey before the season started. To make matters worse, the only addition to the center of defense was to bring back former captain Andrea Ranocchia, initially sent to Sampdoria because he wasn’t up to the task at Inter the first time around.
Despite this, all the blame doesn’t fall on the ownership group’s shoulders, and de Boer certainly didn’t make things easier on himself. His tactics often seemed to confuse his players, and his strict managerial style saw him fall out with various squad members at different times, including Marcelo Brozovic, and Italian international Eder, who refused to shake his hand after the Sampdoria defeat. Things were made even worse by recent the Mauro Icardi catastrophe, and de Boer’s dismissive response towards the fans did little to ingratiate him to the supporters.
However, even Eder admitted that changing coaches two weeks from the start of the season "would not be easy," and De Boer himself warned the press when he arrived that they would see the "true Inter in January." He wasn’t given the time he needed to make the requisite changes, and it showed in the results.
After his firing, Frank de Boer took to Twitter to address the fans and say his piece: "It’s a shame it ended this way. To carry out this project I needed more time. I want to thank the fans for all the support you gave me during these months."
Less than three months surely wasn’t enough time for de Boer to properly make Inter his team. However, given Inter’s recent history and the evidence on hand over the last few years, his quick hire and firing is no real surprise. There’s no concrete long-term plan or direction, and how could there be with the amount of turnover in the ownership?
De Boer’s hiring was a mistake. He had no experience in Serie A, he doesn’t speak the language, and there was no platform to be successful. Inter Milan are in a shambles, and for him to come in, ill-suited to the job, with only two weeks of an already convoluted pre-season filled with travel around the world, it was destined to fail from the beginning.
De Boer made matters worse by further compounding Inter’s already rampant issues, but overall, Inter Milan as a club must take the blame for this debacle. They don’t just look like a rudderless vessel, they look like a sinking ship, and something drastic has to happen for them to turn their fortunes around. Without some sort of change in leadership philosophy, it doesn’t look good for the Nerazurri moving forward.
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