LUCA BIANCHIN / AIPS in MILAN: Questions are already being asked about whether Indonesian businessman Erick Thohir is the right man to rebuild the fortunes of Italy’s former world and European champions Internazionale.
On Thursday Udinese eliminated Inter from the Coppa Italia, the one and only trophy the Nerazzurri could have won this season. That was their third loss in four games.
The questions swirling around the Stadio Meazza focus on whether Inter can be led from Jakarta, by a man who flies to Milan only for the big games? What is his project for a club which slid into depression after a magnificent 2009-10 season? Does he understand the expectation and need to finance team rebuilding at the first opportunity?
Thohir was appointed chairman last November after his International Sports Capital bought a 70pc stake in the club, ending Massimo Moratti’s 18-year reign.
While Inter supporters dreamed of expensive signings, in the style of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, Thohir announced a plan to introduce an Arsenal-style approach based on spotting and developing young talent.
Thohir, who owns stakes in Major League Soccer club DC United and NBA franchise Philadelphia 76ers, said: “Our objective is financial restructuring, creating a club which is in sound financial health, as agreed with Moratti.”
But that is not all Inter need. The Nerazzurri also need new players now their 3-5-1-1 formation, a cornerstone for manager Walter Mazzarri, has proved incapable of attacking power. Inter, home tonight in Serie A to Chievo Verona, have scored only three goals in the last four games.
Thohir plans to sell Colombian midfielder Fredy Guarin, one of the most effective players, in order to finance an offer for a primary target, probably a wing or a striker.
Marcelo Ferreyra, Guarin’s agent, has complained: “We don’t know what Erick Thohir’s intentions are. It’s time that Thohir, Mazzarri and Inter’s management decide what to do with Fredy. Thohir never talked to us.”
Two months after the takeover, the experiment of an Italo-Indonesia club, with a team led by two aging Argentinians in Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, appears doubtful.
Inter sit a modest sixth in Serie, below promoted Hellas Verona and eight points behind third-place Napoli in the desired Champions League playoff spot.
Thohir said this past week: “I have read that my disappointment over our defeat [against Lazio on January 6] was taken as a criticism of the team. It’s natural to feel disappointed when you lose a match but that’s not the same as criticism.”
Gazzetta dello Sport spoke up for Inter fans when it stated: “It’s time for Thohir to speak out and clearly explain what is his Inter. People who love Inter have the right to know what to expect and how far they can dream.”