Inter have dismissed another coach after a disappointing series of results, leaving the Nerazzurri a long way from competing at Serie A’s summit once more
Seven years on from Inter’s historic treble-winning season, the club still finds itself in an endless rebuilding cycle which has just overseen the ninth managerial axing since 2010: Stefano Pioli.
Three managers have now exited the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in the past 12 months, leaving an untenable position which has effectively worked to absorb the full blame for the club’s failures on the pitch.
Though make no mistake, Stefano Pioli, like Frank De Boer before him, are simply victims of a much greater problem within the club’s hierarchy. A hierarchy who are absolved from any responsibility for transforming Inter into the laughing stock of Serie A.
Accountability is incredibly important in modern day football. With millions of dollars invested in clubs, sponsorships deals and broadcast rights, football is now more than ever a results-based industry.
Often first to fall on the sword are the managers; an easy scapegoat which can, in the right circumstances, lead to a positive change.
Strikers not scoring goals can easily find themselves demoted to the bench for, in essence, not fulfilling their only objective on the field.
But how far back should accountability go? Surely those hiring the unsatisfactory managers or squad members should be held responsible?
Apparently, it’s not the case at Inter.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Piero Ausilio renewed his contact as the club’s sporting director, ensuring his stay at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza until 2020.
Since taking on the role in 2010, Inter have fired nine managers and are now on the lookout to hire a 10th victim. The club has brought in playing talent such as Andrea Ranocchia, Yuto Nagatomo, Saphir Taider, Hugo Campagnaro, Nemanja Vidic, Hernanes, Stefan Jovetic, Marcelo Brozovic, Cristian Ansaldi and Eder, just to name a few.
Meanwhile, the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Mateo Kovacic have been moved on to other pastures.
Since the 2010-11 season, Inter’s highest Serie A finish is fourth place, finishing outside the top five on three occasions and set to soon make it a fourth.
Naturally, many fans are asking what progress has been made? Unless spending hundreds of millions on an underperforming team counts as progression, there has certainly been none of the kind at the club.
And yet, the man that arguably has the most weight in the club’s day-to-day football operations has been rewarded with a contract renewal. So where is the accountability?
On what performance indicators has Ausilio justified a renewal?
Unfortunately for the Inter faithful, the inspired signings of Mauro Icardi (2013) and Roberto Gagliardini (2017) have been the exception and far from the rule during his reign.
There’s no doubt the two changes in ownership have not helped to foster a positive club culture. Erick Thohir began his reign with a promising commercial focus, however since the Suning Group took charge, the standing President has shown little public interest in the club. While the new Chinese owners have been present, there are certainly language, cultural and geographical barriers that need to be addressed.
This has left a muddled chain of command, allowing Ausilio to go about his business with little-to-no accountability. Who is explaining how more than €100 million can be spent on a club which looks certain to finish outside Serie A’s top five? Considering De Boer and Pioli had little to no opportunity to build their own respective squads, how can they be held solely accountable for the team’s results?
The cultural problems that have stunted the Nerazzurri since Massimo Moratti’s departure remains the underlying problem for Inter’s on-field woes. It has created an environment where consistency remains a distant and mythical utopia. Where a squad of overpriced misfits play for their bank accounts, oblivious to the privilege that comes with wearing the Nerazzurri crest. Where directors look down from their suites, pointing fingers at any other contributing factor which has led to the failings of their own masterplan.
Ausilio, of course, is not solely the problem, though he is certainly a public representation of the toxicity that has enveloped the club.
Pioli is just the latest in a long line of scapegoats. It’s time the ringmasters took ownership of the circus they have created.