From league leaders to Europa League, Inter’s season was one filled with ups and downs along the way.
Inter began the season looking to go in a different direction compared to seasons past. Mancini brought in a whole new squad and raised the club’s standards from the past few seasons. The goal of the season was to make the Champions league, which was an attainable goal for Inter given how they started the season with a slew of 1-0 victories. The second half of the season, however, was the polar opposite.
Serie A: 4th place, Europa League spot, 67 Points
Coppa Italia: Semi finalist, 3-3 (3-5) Loss in PK’s to Juventus
Inter brought in a whole new lineup for the 2015/16 season, signing Kondogbia, Perisic, Murillo, Melo, Biabiany, Jovetic, Ljajic, Montoya, Telles and eventually Eder. Compared to the past few seasons this has been the strongest group of players at the club.
All in all, Mancini deserves credit for what he has accomplished this season. He brought a team from 9th place to 4th place, and dominated Italy for half the year. The tremendous turnaround is credited to the former Manchester City boss as much as it is to the players. He was able to turn a group of heartless players into fighters who could definitely push for a title in coming seasons. We can agree that while he has his downsides, he is restoring faith to the Nerazzurri and this season was the first step in the process. Bringing in players who can work for him and for the team have worked to his advantage. There’s still pieces to this Inter puzzle missing, but with time and patience they will find what works. Lets not forget this is the first season of this group together. Mancini still needs to make better tactical decisions throughout the game and figure out his substitutions to maximize the performance of Inter. This is the case as we saw him making questionable subs at differing times which cost the team points by turning wins into ties and ties into losses.
After starting off the season strong with 12 wins, 3 ties, 3 losses Inter found themselves at the top of the table going into the break. Inter’s strongest point was their defense and goalkeeping. Winning games 1-0 was good enough for first. It wasn’t pretty, but they won games and put them in a prime position to maintain the goal of getting back into Champions League.
In a matter of a month, Inter were out of the title race. Dropping points left and right against Sassuolo, Carpi, Juve, Atalanta and Milan. This set the pace for a bumpy spring term where they were in control of their own destiny more often than not. When Inter needed a team to drop points, it happened but Inter was not able to reciprocate that and win the games that would put them ahead, or bring them closer to that 3rd spot. With chances again, late on in the season for that 3rd place push, Inter came up short to make the cut for Champions league.
The form of the players has been a rocky one. Perisic, who did not live up to expectations in the beginning of the season, was able to establish himself as one of the most influential players towards the second half. Scoring 8 goals and 7 assists he had played a huge part in Inter’s attack as a wide threat who could play a killer cross and a killer finish. Eder, who had started off the season tremendously with Sampdoria, was only able to find the net once for Inter, but his movement and attacking IQ was enough to create numerous opportunities for his teammates. His best showing came in the Coppa Italia second leg vs. Juve only to lose on PKs.
Murillo had started off the year in outstanding form but towards the second half his inexperience showed as he became very prone to making mistakes and leaving his partner and Handanovic exposed. Brozovic, who is supposed to be the future of Inter’s midfield showed how he could be a liability to the team by constantly making questionable decisions and losing the ball far too often. His work rate and presence has been there more often than not, but on a consistent level it was not enough for Inter.
Ljajic and Jovetic should have been the stars this season. Their ego’s and habits got the best of them and forced Mancini to think twice about putting them in the starting XI. Ljajic who has a ton of potential and raw talent has been a problem everywhere he goes. It was no different at Inter as he was unable to keep his head held high and just do what he needed to do for Inter rather than for Ljajic. The same goes for Jovetic. A tremendous player who should have put the team before himself, but was unable to keep his cool and complained when subbed out on a few separate occasions. These two not being in the lineup didn’t help the situation but only made things worse. Mancini leaving them out was a good thing disciplinary wise, to show that nobody is above the manager.
After the end of the January transfer window, Inter were left with four midfielders (in a 3 man system). The depth, quality and variety wasn’t enough to continue their success late on in the season. With Medel, Kondogbia, Melo, Brozovic and Gnoukouri, there is no attacking minded midfielder to add a different dimension to the game. Losing Guarin without a replacement of any kind did not help the situation. Mancini loves defensive midfielders, but he’s always had depth and variety in his previous Inter squads.
Player of the season: Handanovic
Handanovic has consistently been one of the most influential players for Inter’s success. Game in and game out he is constantly making crucial saves to keep Inter’s hopes alive. He is one of the top goalkeepers in the world with his cat-like reflexes and outstanding fingertip saves. 15 clean sheets with 113 saves this season, Handanovic has been a huge difference maker this season backing up the defense. Handanovic has been the most important player for Inter to hold on to for quite some time. He’s saved an incredible amount of penalties, arguably the best penalty stopper in the world. Keeping him in the squad is a necessity for next season.
Signing of the season: Miranda
Miranda was brought in to reinforce the defense and that is exactly what he has done. Inter has without a doubt had shaky pairings the past few seasons. Mistakes were made left and right by Ranocchia and Juan, but this season Miranda and Murillo have excelled beyond expectations to help Inter finish in 4th place. Miranda’s experience and leadership showed why he should be in the lineup each and every week. His defensive work rate was second to none and kept his opponents at bay when he stepped into each and every tackle.
Inter’s season did not end how fans wanted it after being given a taste of the top of the table, but overall the team had a solid showing. We’ve seen Inter at the highest point in nearly 6 years. Mancini is working hard to bring Inter back to Champions League and figh for the Scudetto. Through the good and the bad, Inter have been able to show its strength in defense and attacking abilities can take on any team in Italy. Tactically, Mancini needs to improve. His biggest problem is substitutions to decide the fate of the game. Mancini’s lack of outside backs was a constant liability to the team. Each player had their drawbacks whether they were good in attack or bad at defense or like D’ambrosio, neither at times. Next season there must be a clearer idea of who will be the outside fullback pairing in the lineup.
The future is bright. The team is finally molding into a coherent unit which is what Inter has been lacking in recent years. With some additional players, the team will be able to compete for the title and give the Europa League a good run next season.