Inter Milan lines up ambitious manager targets as fans reach breaking point
Inter Milan fired its coach Stefano Pioli last week and has drawn up a shortlist of Antonio Conte, Diego Simeone and Mauricio Pochettino to replace him. Given that the side is out of European contention and currently 29 points behind Serie A leader Juventus, you have to admire its ambition.
There is a chance that Simeone, a former Inter player who has spoken about one day coaching his ex-team, might return, but there would be some risk attached, given Inter sacked Frank de Boer two months into the new season, and left Pioli high and dry with only three games left.
The fans made their feelings clear on the subject: they walked out after 20 minutes of Inter's latest defeat, a 2-1 home loss to Sassuolo. It was Inter's fourth straight loss and caps a run of only two points in the last eight games.
“Since you do not deserve our support … today we are just going to go and get something to eat,” said one of the banners at the lunchtime kickoff. The stadium was practically empty on the final whistle.
Inter director Piero Ausilio hardly helped the situation by telling Mediaset that Pioli was shown the door, replaced in the interim by youth coach Stefano Vecchi, “out of respect,” to give him time to find a new job. “When you take an extreme course of action like firing a coach, it's a last desperate way of proving to the players that it's up to them now,” Ausilio said. “The disadvantage of our place in the table is actually an advantage, because it gives us time to build and get our situation together.”
Goalkeeper Samir Handanovic was less sympathetic to the current situation: “Inter can’t find themselves in this situation in the league table. You have to be patient, but only up to a certain point. It’s the most difficult moment since I’ve been here. It’s been like this for the whole year, we can’t hang onto little things. We need to analyze things well without looking for excuses. We need to understand where we are going wrong and go again. We need to end the season well.”
Inter owners Suning Group has made one important appointment this week: hiring Walter Sabatini as technical director across Inter and Chinese club Jiangsu Suning. Until last year, Sabatini held the same post at Roma; hence the link to Roma's current boss Luciano Spalletti seems inevitable. Sabatini has a tough job: develop the two squads in tandem and find some stability at a club that has lacked it for too long now.