SerieA: Inter 0-1 Novara, The ‘Tinkerman’ strikes again

Week 23 of the 2011/12 Serie A season saw minnows Novara arrive at the Stadio Guiseppe Meazza sat at the foot of the table with only three points from their last ten matches, conceding a huge 21 goals compared to just five scored in that time, so as you can imagine it was widely regarded that although Inter were going through a tough time in their last three games this match would be a relative walk in the park.

The last time these two teams met was back in September and the heavy defeat suffered by the Nerazzurri then turned out to be Gian Piero Gasperini’s last game in his short Inter career before current coach Claudio Ranieri took over the reins. So how is it possible that once again this struggling team has embarrassed the mighty Inter?

It all started great for Inter as Ranieri finally started the match with the formation I have been championing for months seeing both Wesley Sneijder and Ricky Alvarez starting alongside each other behind a single striker, Diego Milito in a 4-3-2-1. The midfield three consisted of Andrea Poli, Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic who returned from his injury, so far so good player wise but the defensive line held some concerns for me on the right side of the back four we had Javier Zanetti covering the right back position as Maicon was suspended from this match due to yellow card accumulation and Lucio in his usual spot but the left side came as a surprise, instead of playing both Andrea Ranocchia and Yuto Nagatomo who were both selected in the squad Ranieri saw fit to include the ever useless Cristian Chivu and the aging Ivan Cordoba.

The first half was looking very promising as it progressed with Inter looking far more positive than in previous games and by using both of our trequartistas behind the striker they seemed to be a more creative force at the spearhead of the formation. It made my day to see what I had been saying for months was being proved right on the pitch and despite my reservations the defensive line was standing strong and playing fairly well. Just before the first half came to an end Poli closed in on goal and just as he was about to take his shot was brought down by Novara player Porcari, the Inter players, the fans in the terraces and all the Interistas watching screamed for the obvious penalty to be awarded but the referee wasn’t having any of it, a truly disappointing decision by him but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

So the first half ended at 0-0 and although there had been no goals for Inter, I was feeling very positive about the performance and had the distinct impression that it was only a matter of time before it all clicked in to place with this new formation and we’d start hitting the back of the net in the second half.

During the break we all knew Ranieri would make a change, let’s face it he always does! To be honest if I was in his shoes I would have took Cordoba off, moved Chivu in to the left centre of the defence and brought Nagatomo on as the left back or even removed Stankovic and replaced him with Angelo Palombo just to sure up the formation, but being the ‘Tinkerman’ he decided to change the formation to a 4-3-1-2 by bringing on Giampaolo Pazzini on for Alvarez which was disappointing for me to see as there was no need to change tactics in my opinion.

Five minutes after the restart Inter had yet another chance to score with Lucio taking a shot that was easily denied by the Novara goalkeeper who then started a counter attack that caught Inter by surprise and with Lucio being down the wrong end of the pitch left a wide open channel for the Novara attack to exploit which they did very efficiently as Caracciolo’s shot put the visitors in front. This was the point it all started to fall apart for Inter as a hint of desperation crept in to the Nerazzurri‘s play.

Just after the 60th minute this desperation had spread to Ranieri and with his second substitution he reverted back to his safety net of the 4-4-2 formation taking off Poli who once again had been excellent and bringing on striker Diego Forlan who took up the right wing position with playmaker Sneijder being pulled back to the left wing. The result was a disaster that yet again left the Inter players looking deflated and lost on the pitch.

Inter still managed to hold on to their possession but they just couldn’t flow properly and despite shot after shot still couldn’t level the score. 75 minutes in to the match Ranieri made his third and final substitution bringing on Nagatomo for Chivu (by far his most sensible decision of the second half).  Even this change failed to make any difference and it became more and more apparent that this wasn’t Inter’s night for a come back even after Novara was reduced to ten men in the 80th minute they still were unable to take advantage, much to the despair of all at Inter and Interisti around the world.  When Sneijder could only manage to rattle the crossbar with a viscious shot we all knew it was game over for us, and so the minnows Novara managed to claim their third win of the season and do the double over my beloved Inter. 😦

So what has really changed since that previous game back in September? Apart from us having a different coach, the answer unfortunately is not a lot! We still need more depth of cover for our defensive line and we’re still playing old guard players like Cordoba and Stankovic who should now only be used in extreme circumstances, that said though against a team of Novara’s standing we should have still comfortably beat them no matter which players were on the pitch, let’s face it they’re a Serie B level club that is enjoying a rare season in the top flight if we can’t win matches like these what hope do we have against the other giants of calcio?

In my opinion there is only one person who should accept responsibility for this loss and that is our head coach the ‘Tinkerman’ himself, if he had had a little more patience with his original formation of 4-3-2-1 then I’m fairly confident we would have been celebrating a win now instead of analysing the faults. I know i’m biased on this point as i’m a big fan of this formation but I’m also certain we could have got the required result if he had trusted in the 4-3-1-2 too, instead of him panicing when they went ahead and reverting to his default 4-4-2. Constantly changing things makes it almost impossible for the players to find their flow and without consistency in the tactics there won’t be any consistency in the performances apart from continually losing!

The ultimate blame though goes much deeper and as I discussed earlier in the season with my article ‘What is the cause of Inter’s crisis?’ the buck must stop with Massimo Moratti who has made many bad decisions since Jose Mourinho’s departure in 2010. For those of you calling for him to replace Ranieri with Capello, that isn’t going to happen this season for one thing Capello has said he doesn’t want to return to coaching in Italy but more importantly I hope Moratti has the sense to wait until summer to start again with a fresh outlook for the new season by replacing Ranieri with a long term solution, changing for a third time this season could do more damage than good.

To be honest I’m not sure how I feel about this season’s situation anymore I am without a doubt angry at the results but I’m also very disappointed as I know that on paper we have a squad that should be capable of winning everything, though the reality is a squad that looks disjointed and unable to gel in to a group that can work like a machine, at this rate we are destined for mid table obscurity by the end of the season and if we don’t qualify for a European competition our finances will ultimately take another hit, not to mention being unable to attract the new players we desperately need.

Follow me on Twitter: @Don_Nerazzurri

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Posted on February 12, 2012, in Serie A and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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