x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Managers are not the only problem at Inter Milan

Gian Piero Gasperini has become the 16th coaching casualty in as many years for president Massimo Moratti, but he is just one of several managers who struggled to stamp their style on Inter's stubborn players.

As Inter Milan crashed to their fourth defeat in five competitive matches under Gian Piero Gasperini on Tuesday night, the list of possible candidates to become the 17th head coach appointed in the 16 years of Massimo Moratti's presidency grew by the hour.

By noon yesterday, it was announced Gasperini had gone.

Gasperini has been looking over his shoulder almost since he was appointed in late June. He was never top choice. At the weekend, Vicente del Bosque, the Spain head coach, revealed he had been approached over the summer, adding his name to a catalogue including Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine who had committed to Athletic Bilbao.

How far talks with Sinisa Mihajlovic, Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink or Andres Villas-Boas developed is Moratti's secret.

Nor was the president, for whom the 3-1 loss at Novara was the last straw, inclined to comment on claims by Quique Sanchez Flores, formerly of Atletico Madrid, that Inter sounded him out last week.

All of which points to a strategic confusion at boardroom level at least as bewildering as Gasperini's defensive formations.

Even Javier Zanetti, the usually circumspect captain, observed after Novara "things are not working". Nor were they last autumn, when Rafa Benitez, coach No 14, found it taxing to impose his ideas on an ageing side, with some stubborn individuals.

This Inter squad is a challenge, and the suspicion is the list of coaches who said "No" may be longer than has been reported.