MILAN - World, European and Italian
champions Inter Milan have been stunned by coach Rafael
Benitez's attack on what he saw as their lack of ambition.
The Spaniard, after just six months in charge, called at the
weekend for the club to make signings in the January transfer
window or consider whether they wanted to keep him on.
Here we look at the options Inter president Massimo Moratti
has, including the possible successors to Benitez if he is axed.
Benitez did what Moratti asked and triumphed in the Club
World Cup and although the president has labelled the coach's
outburst "inappropriate", the passion he has shown may convince
Moratti that Benitez has what it takes for more silverware.
Changing coach so soon after Jose Mourinho left for Real
Madrid in May would cause fresh upheaval in the middle of the
season just when Benitez was beginning to turn the corner and
get injured players back.
Moratti had hinted he would have considered the coach's
position anyway had Inter not won the Club World Cup, given that
they lie seventh in Serie A after an uninspiring if injury-hit
start to the campaign.
The club owner has not appreciated his authority being
questioned, with Benitez saying he was promised signings in the
close season which did not materialise.
The president has demonstrated a decisive streak many times
before, sacking Roberto Mancini for dithering in 2008 despite
winning the league title.
If the Spaniard was to leave, at least 10 names are in the
frame to replace him.
The former AS Roma coach has just won the Russian league
with Zenit St Petersburg and would be a popular choice for fans
since he has no links to AC Milan and is a straight talker.
He also did well to make Roma a title-chasing side and had
several good battles with Inter. A lucrative contact with Zenit
would probably not deter him from the challenge of reviving the
Former Inter goalkeeping great has said his dream is to
coach his old side but after inconsistent spells in Romania and
in charge of Catania and Palermo, the current coach of Saudi
Arabia's Al-Nassr lacks managerial pedigree.
A six-month caretaker role might suit, however, and
bookmakers give him surprisingly short odds to replace Benitez.
Spent just one season at AC Milan last term in his debut
coaching job. Quit after becoming frustrated with Milan owner
Silvio Berlusconi interfering.
His links to Milan, also as a player, and the fact his
managerial spell was not so successful would appear to count
against him but media reports say Moratti admires the Brazilian.
Out of work after leaving Galatasaray in October, former
Netherlands coach Rijkaard fits the bill given his history of
winning La Liga and the Champions League with Barcelona.
However, the ex-AC Milan player would have to convince Inter
fans of his loyalty and having failed in Turkey he has slipped
off the radar slightly.
The tough-nut Argentine is a former Inter player and his
demanding attitude might just be what club president Moratti
feels his players need.
His managerial career in Argentina has been very up and down
and he was last at San Lorenzo, leaving in April after a run of
Moratti was half-interested in Capello before plumping for
Benitez and only a resignation from the England boss could
facilitate the move.
The 64-year-old has consistently said the England job is his
last but that has not stopped media speculation that the former
AC Milan, Juventus and AS Roma coach may be tempted to complete
the quartet and finally manage Inter.
The Ireland coach, a former Inter manager, could be brought
in as a caretaker for the rest of the season as an old hand
perfect to steady the ship. He could combine the job with
Ireland but his bosses there would have to agree and at 71 he
may be too old for the cut and thrust of Serie A.
The former Inter winger now works as an ambassador for the
club but has no managerial experience. However, the former world
player of the year would command huge respect from the squad as
either a caretaker or permanent coach.
Assistant coach to Jose Mourinho and Benitez at Inter,
Baresi is Nerazzurri through and through having spent almost his
entire career with the club. Brother of AC Milan great Franco
Baresi, he might not be high profile enough for some fans as a
permanent manager but would be welcomed as a caretaker.
Moratti loves the way Barcelona play and if their coach does
not extend his deal with the Catalans, which expires at the end
of the season, then Inter would be first in the queue with a
caretaker put in charge until the end of the campaign.
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