Well, it certainly didn’t take very long for media and supporters to turn on Inter’s new coach Gian Piero Gasperini and his tactics, all of one league match to be exact. But what’s worse is that Inter’s top brass may have as well.
Losing the opening match of the season on the road Sunday to a very capable Palermo team in a stadium that can often be a difficult place to play is hardly cause for concern. The scudetto is nowhere near lost, but worries of Gasperini’s 3-4-3 lineup existed long before Inter ever kicked a ball in anger, and the way in which they lost only makes matters much, much worse.
Inter’s three man defense, comprised of Javier Zanetti, Walter Samuel and Lucio, looked exhausted for much of the match and were torn to ribbons for large portions of the game by a Palermo attack led by captain Fabrizio Miccoli. The team looked disorganized with large gaps throughout the pitch. Needlessly to say, it was unusual to watch a team wearing the Nerazzurri look so confused and vulnerable on the defensive side of the ball. As I watched the goals hit the back of the net, I could already feel the inevitable finger-pointing starting up. After one game, Gasperini would be on the hot seat.
To make matters worse, Gasperini made a substitution barely a half an hour into the first half, taking off debutant Mauro Zarate in favor of dutch superstar Wesley Sneijder immediately following the first goal of the game which put Inter up 1-0. The coach may have had perfectly good reasons for the change, but such a move, especially when looked at through the advantage of hindsight, appears as though mistakes had been made by Gasperini in the match preparations. It only serves as fuel for the fire.
But having said all of that, it is truly ridiculous for fans to blame Gasperini. This is what he is all about and he has made no mistake about it. Reports from the peninsula suggest Inter president Massimo Moratti is piling pressure on the coach and suggesting he change formation. But the pressure should be solely on Moratti’s shoulders. He was the man who hired a coach that made his name using a 3-4-3 setup. Did he think Gasperini would suddenly become a tactical copy of Jose Mourinho?
It is time for Moratti to stop this nonsense and stand by his decision to hire Gasperini in the first place. A coach needs time and space to work and if Moratti believed in him enough to hire him he needs to be the man who provides that space. Right now, Moratti is failing miserably at that job.
Truth be told, I do not think a three man defense will work at Inter in the long run. And if I had a little extra cash, placing a wager on Gasperini being the first manager sacked in Serie A this year wouldn’t be such a bad bet. His 3-4-3 is, in my opinion, the wrong tactic for a club that has always found success when defensively sound, and the defenders they have in the squad are not the type suited for the kind of pace needed to make it work. But I have been wrong before, and I certainly wouldn’t pass judgement after one game. And neither should Moratti.