Although Juventus are in the process of chasing their fourth consecutive Scudetto this season, the Inter side of the mid-to-late 2000’s must be applauded as the most successful team in recent Italian football history.
The Giuseppe Meazza outfit won five straight Serie A titles from 2005 to 2010 and had a squad full of wonderful players at the top of their game.
Although José Mourinho gains much of the credit for the Milanese side’s achievements due to Champions League triumph and a momentous treble in 2009-10, Roberto Mancini was the man that laid the foundations for such a prolonged period of success.
It was Mancini that orchestrated the start of Inter’s unprecedented five-year period, winning the first three Scudetti from 2005 through to 2008.
However, since Mourinho left the Nerazzurri in 2010 to coach Real Madrid, Inter have floundered domestically and parted company with six different head coaches over a tough four-year period.
Walter Mazzarri was the latest to cave to the pressure of expectation, with Mancini sensationally reinstalled as Inter’s manager last week after being surprisingly sacked and replaced by Mourinho in 2008.
There is a widespread sentiment in the game of football that ‘you should never go back’ to former clubs and the challenge that awaits Mancini is one of the biggest in European football.
The former Italy international has had his share of ups and downs since leaving Inter; Premier League success at Manchester City, dismissal after failing to repeat the achievement and an underwhelming spell in charge of Galatasaray.
For the historic Italian club, things have only been bleak in recent times.
The Nerazzurri have finished sixth, ninth and fifth in recent campaigns, not good enough for a club as prestigious as Inter, with the glory days of Mancini’s first tenure now a distant memory.
However, despite Thohir’s wealth, an overhaul similar to those experienced at Manchester City or Paris-Saint Germain has not been forthcoming.
The Nerazzurri have spent in the region of €70 million since the start of 2013, but the current playing squad does not contain the required quality to consistently challenge the likes of Juve, Roma or Napoli in Serie A’s upper echelons.
Mancini will inherit a team that on its day can give anyone in Italy a game, but the starting XI lacks real strength in depth.
There is an argument that the squad needs an overhaul to realistically pose a title threat, with a mix of under-performing seasoned campaigners and unproven youngsters not currently delivering results.
Rodrigo Palacio has been the club’s top goalscorer for the last number of seasons but is yet to hit the net this term, while question marks over a shaky defence remain.
On the plus side, Mancini has a number of exciting talents to work with.
Argentine striker Mauro Icardi has hit seven goals so far this season and is starting to live up to the hype from his days at Sampdoria, while Mateo Kovačić continues to show the odd sign of brilliance.
That said, the task facing Mancini is one that will take a number of years to achieve and the 49-year-old must be given time, unlike the last six coaches before him, to stamp his authority on the club once more.
Mancini takes charge of his first match as Inter boss for the second time today. He will be thrown into the lion’s den as the Nerazzurri face age-old rivals AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina.
Victory would be the ideal start but regardless of the result adding to the three Italian championships that he has already won at Inter any time soon will be a monumental task.