Inter Milan's "golden generation"
is at the end of the line and a major restructuring is now
expected after the 2010 Champions League winners were dumped out
of this season's competition by Olympique Marseille.
President Massimo Moratti absolved coach Claudio Ranieri of
any blame after Tuesday's last-16 exit on away goals, saying all
the luck was on Marseille's side.
The tie finished 2-2 on aggregate after Inter won the second
leg 2-1 at home, meaning the San Siro club will not win a trophy
this term for the first time since 2005 given they are out of
the Italian Cup and seventh in Serie A.
The rot began as soon as coach Jose Mourinho left following
the club's staggering treble success two years ago. The wily
Portuguese knew Inter's ageing side had reached their peak and
quit for Real Madrid knowing his legacy was intact.
Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini and then
Ranieri were left to pick up the pieces and major changes in the
playing staff are now inevitable.
"We must not think of a revolution but a restructuring.
Anyway the club knows this," Ranieri said after Brandao's
injury-time goal sent Marseille through despite being sandwiched
between Diego Milito's strike and a Giampaolo Pazzini penalty.
"We will continue to fight but our luck must change. The
team cannot give more than it is giving. If next year Moratti
wants to change coach I will thank him sincerely for the
opportunity he gave me."
Ranieri was appointed in September but has endured a
rollercoaster season as Inter climbed away from the relegation
places before a dreadful run where they failed to win in nine
The coach, however, seems safe until the end of the campaign
"I don't feel like taking any action," Moratti said. "I
don't see how Ranieri is to blame, it's more to do with the luck
French counterpart Didier Deschamps had. If we had lost 4-0 I
might have seen things differently."
It is not just former Juventus, AS Roma and Chelsea boss
Ranieri worrying about his position next term.
Treble heroes such as Julio Cesar, Lucio, Walter Samuel,
Maicon, Cristian Chivu, Dejan Stankovic, Esteban Cambiasso and
Milito will be nervously looking over their shoulders after
beginning to show their ages.
Even playmaker Wesley Sneijder, who has failed to fit into
Ranieri's system, may be sacrificed to bring in some cash with
stuttering striker Diego Forlan - only bought in August - not
certain to stay.
Youth has already started to be drafted in but Pazzini,
Andrea Poli, Andrea Ranocchia and Ricardo Alvarez have not shone
like the "golden generation."
Moratti is wary of UEFA's new financial fairplay rules
catching Inter out during their rebuilding although money is
available after the sale of Samuel Eto'o to wealthy Russians
The Cameroon striker's departure in August summed up the
fact Inter had lost the ambition they had while winning five
Serie A titles in a row under Roberto Mancini and then Mourinho.
They are badly missing the driving runs of Eto'o down the
channels but raking in nearly $40 million in one go was too
tempting for a club who knew their glory days might not be
repeated for some time.
To make matters worse for Inter, arch-rivals AC Milan look
likely to win a second straight Serie A crown and are into the
Champions League quarter-finals thanks to the brilliance of
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - a former Inter hotshot.
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