The job at the helm of the Giuseppe Meazza has become something of a poisoned chalice in recent years. Oh what the heck, it’s definitely become a poisoned chalice.
Frank de Boer was the latest manager to be tempted into sipping from the goblet. Just like eight managers before him, he fell victim to an impossible situation.
At least with every managerial sacking, there’s optimism that maybe, just maybe the next guy is the right one, that’s what sports fandom is based upon. I already identified what went wrong with de Boer’s Inter, so let’s look at the next man to
drink from the chalice lead Inter to glory.
I really like the Stefano Pioli hire, and there’s several reasons why. I’ll quickly break them down here:
- He did well to revitalise Lazio in a short time.
- His sacking in Lazio was way harsh (I wrote about this)
- He offers a short term bridge to a better manager down the line.
I Biancocelesti had a rather drab 2013/14 season. They never climbed any higher than 7th in the table but never fell below 12th, they limped along for 38 games, not doing much of anything. Then Pioli came along.
(xG stands for expected goals, click here for an explanation)
This graph via the excellent Michael Caley shows the incredible turnaround Pioli did with Lazio in just one season, and in this one season, they got Champions League football. Such a turn around in one year is incredibly impressive, especially when you consider the calibre of players he was working with and Lazio’s budget. This was no mean feat.
It shows how Pioli can work with a team and improve them in a short space of time, and Lord knows Inter need that right now. In the summer of 2014, Lazio didn’t even get that much investment, a little less than €13m investment for a squad with many holes. Which yet again, makes the feat even more impressive.
Unfortunately, Pioli became victim of his own lofty expectations and was subsequently sacked with his team just outside the Europa League places in April of 2016. However, the sacking was unjust, in my opinion.
Using expected goals, Lazio should have conceded 12 less goals than they actually did. This could have been huge in terms of saving Pioli’s job. Especially when you compare it to the other big teams in Serie A, Pioli was organising a better defense than Inter, whose defense was praised throughout the campaign.
Lazio’s defensive numbers would have regressed to the mean eventually, although most likely not during that season as it was so late in the campaign. Still, it shows how unlucky Lazio were throughout the campaign and that Pioli had the right idea regarding his team’s defense.
Especially when you consider star CB Stefan de Vrij was out injured for most of the campaign, there was a revolving door in between the goal posts and there was no consistency in the defensive line. Lazio’s 15/16 season wasn’t as black and white as you imagine.
The squad Pioli was working with during his time in Rome was not particularly impressive, either. A 36 year old Miroslav Klose was Lazio’s best goalscorer, as Lotito seemingly refused to splash out on a striker. The Italian relied on a host of youngsters to step up, including Felipe Anderson, Danilo Cataldi, Balde Keita and Stefan de Vrij, who all flourished under Pioli.
All the above reasons make Pioli the perfect man for the Inter Milan job…right now. As mentioned in my third point above, the Inter Milan management probably don’t see Pioli as the man to bring them to Scudetto or European glory, but he’s a solid manager who can make an instant impact.
He’s able to create an identity within the team (Inter need that), he can help develop players that need that extra bit of coaching to reach their proper level (Inter have tons of these), and he can work within a budget. If Pioli is just a short term option, will he get the funds he needs? Perhaps not.
The above paragraph brings me to this point, who is manager that is really on Inter’s mind? It’s Diego Simeone. The current Atletico Madrid manager only spent two years (1997-99) with the Nerazzurri but has seemingly fell head over heels with the Giuseppe Meazza. Much like Pep Guardiola’s time with Bayern, everyone was already wondering where his next move would be, Simeone is no different.
The Argentine has made it no secret he wants to manage Inter one day.‘Inter? It would be an honour’ This was back in December of 2013, and Simeone has brought up Inter countless times since. In September, Simeone shortened his Atleti contract by two years, with it now expiring in 2018. Just in time for Pioli to have stabilised the foundations of Inter and hand over the keys of the club to a known winner. When does Pioli’s contract end? 2018.
Is it a speculative theory? Yes. Is it a bit far fetched? Probably not as much as everyone thinks.
Even if Diego Simeone isn’t the man to take over after Pioli, I have faith Pioli is going to improve this Inter side a lot more than most people think.