Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Most of us would have been content with an iPad for Christmas, but not Massimo Moratti. The Inter president would only be really happy with a new coach - and one who would cause Silvio Berlusconi the greatest amount of discomfort to boot.
So, enter Leonardo, who had walked out of the court of the laughing cavalier in the summer claiming he could not work with a narcissist, but now finds himself across town working with an equally self-important club owner.
AC Milan will see it has the ultimate betrayal and the Brazilian, for all his charm, will now be set in stone as a Judas amongst the Rossoneri, although the Inter president has been head-over-heels in love with the dashing South American for ages in the same way he has been with Paolo Maldini, who in another piece of mischief-making he sounded out about taking a role at his club.
Then there are the overtures towards Ricky Kaka, who Leonardo brought to Milan, just to rack up the local rivalry a notch or two. However, it seems that leaving Real Madrid for the Nerazzurri will be a step too far for the impending transfer window, with the arrival of Luca Toni likely to provide a more sobering reality check.
As the 14th coach in the Moratti era, Leonardo will have a similar task to the one presented to him when he stepped out of the suit and into the tracksuit at Milan: to get one last hooray out of an aging squad whilst at the same time integrating some new faces into the set-up.
Once again, he will rely on a solid right-hand man, Beppe Baresi who will provide the technical experience just as Mauro Tassotti did last year.
Baresi is well respected amongst the South Americans – Javier Zanetti, Esteban Cambiasso and Ivan Cordoba - who run the Inter dressing room and he would have been a welcomed caretaker if Moratti had not found a suitable replacement for Rafael Benitez.
Leonardo has already negotiated the corridors of power at one Milanese giant before finding it all too much for his sensibilities, and will do everything he can to ensure that he stays on the right side of the hierarchy and win over the players on the other side of the Naviglio.
This was something that Benitez spectacularly failed to achieve in his six-month period in charge, but Leo was at Milan when Adriano Galliani gave the green-light to sell Kaka and then introduce a whole sway of austerity measures concerning contract extensions for the old guard.
However, he was never one to crack the whip and in introducing his four-man attack last term he memorable stated that “Ghandi had freed India without having to raise his voice."
A softly, softly approach worked up until to a point, but in the end Milan fell into their old wayward ways of blown points and lapse defending. Inter are no longer imperious but at least the trip to Abu Dhabi saw the return of the majority of the injured players to some semblance of fitness for the second half of the campaign.
The impending introduction of UEFA’s financial fair-play regulations - which call on clubs competing in the Champions and Europa Leagues to break even over a rolling three-year period - will mean the new man cannot starting demanding wholesale changes. but least he will have Andrea Ranocchia available immediately.
The highly-rated central defender was destined to return to the club in June, but with Walter Samuel sidelined for the foreseeable future, splashing out €12.5 million for the remaining 50 per cent stake of the 22-year-old’s contract with Genoa looks money well spent.
Selling Sulley Muntari would also make sound business sense and a €12 million fee which Liverpool are apparently ready to match would of course wipe out the outlay for Ranocchia.
Leonardo was considered something of a visionary and Inter certainly need a new approach if they are to retain their title in what has been an unpredictable season so far, with the likes of Napoli, Lazio, AS Roma and Juventus just as likely to take over leadership from current table-toppers Milan.
Did they bring him in to coach or to bring in more Brazilians? Neymar for example? If it's to bring in flavor of the month Brazilian players, then Leo might have a job for a while despite Inter's record.
I was hoping Spalletti would get the job but I suppose Leonardo is a reasonable choice. Moratti will be happy that this appointment gets under Berlusconi's skin but I think he did it for football reasons. Moratti never struck me as the clown the other guy is.
The signing of Ranocchia was vital while an early move for Coentrao would be wise. After that I think the squad is fine when fully fit. Over the next 18 months Inter need to start bringing in younger players.
If Liverpool are offering 12m euro for Muntari then Moratti should throw him up on his shoulders and carry him there himself. If anyone offers 3 or 4 million for Chivu then take that too. Getting shot of Mancini and Suazo would help lighten the wage bill also. There is also talk of Santon being sold which sounds like madness to me. Yes, loan him out for a while, but don't sell. He could be the natural replacement for Maicon in the near future.
It will be interseting to see how Leo fares. A bad run in January and February will put huge pressure on him, but I hope he succeeds.
Latest Italian Football News
Inter sack Stramaccioni and appoint Mazzarri
Napoli chief U-turn on Benitez announcement
De Laurentiis: Benitez poised to join Napoli
De Rossi asks fans to leave knives at home
Milan striker Pazzini out for up to six months
75% of all TV is Bale
On the road to ruin
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010