Is Benitez at fault for Inter implosion?
A lack of fit players, lack of effective training, lack of buys, lack of hunger, lack of Jose Mourinho.
The possible reasons for Inter Milan’s troubles, which leave coach Rafael Benitez clinging to his job, are widespread and not all his fault but the treble winners have to do something to reverse their steady decline.
Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at Chievo, which put Inter nine points off top spot, followed the derby defeat by AC Milan and media reports reckon Benitez could be axed if the holders slip up at home to Twente Enschede in Wednesday’s Champions League clash. Samuel Eto’o's crazy Zidane-like headbutt against Chievo, which is set to lead to a lengthy Serie A ban, comes at the worst possible time for the Spaniard.
A glance at the factors behind their poor form shows Benitez is only half to blame.
1. Lack of fit players. Benitez says it’s just bad luck that top players Diego Milito, Maicon, Julio Cesar, Walter Samuel, Esteban Cambiasso, Cristian Chivu and Coutinho have all been injured at the same time. Losing so many players has disrupted the team and led to disjointed performances because of enforced formation changes. But….
2. Lack of effective training. Critics say the catalogue of injuries are happening because of Benitez’s training regime which compared to last season’s exercises under Jose Mourinho is stretching muscles to breaking point. The former Liverpool coach has denied that his training methods are at fault and says it is just misfortune.
3. Lack of buys. Benitez cannot be blamed for this one. As soon as he was appointed he called for some fresh investment but club president Massimo Moratti reckoned that the European champions had ample options thank you very much. He was wrong. The injuries have exposed the weaknesses in the squad and with Wesley Sneijder struggling slightly for form. there is no obvious alternative to the Dutchman as playmaker.
Lack of hunger. When a team wins their fifth straight Serie A title, the Champions League and the Italian Cup in one season, the campaign afterwards is always likely to be an anti-climax. Inter defender Davide Santon just didn’t attack the ball for Chievo’s first goal on Sunday. Benitez said it was a technical error from a young player but pundits said the defender showed no desire. After so much success, motivating the ageing team is bound to be trickier. But….
Lack of Jose Mourinho. If anyone could gee up the team, Mourinho could. Time and again last season, the Portuguese worked his magic to get his side out of a hole. Benitez cannot be blamed for not being Mourinho. There is only one “Special One” after all.