Inter Milan were on top of the world just three years ago.
With the mercurial Jose Mourinho at the helm, Inter won the treble at the culmination of probably the greatest season in their history. However, since then, things have seriously gone wrong for the team, who finished the last campaign in a dismal ninth place.
So, let's take a look at what went wrpmg for the Nerazzurri in those three years.
Inter Milan initially looked to be going the right way, by appointing experienced campaigner Rafael Benitez as their manager. Nobody could have predicted the absolutely unspectacular nature of the performances Inter produced under the Spaniard, but there is no excuse for the way Inter have gone after the unfortunate six-month reign of the former Liverpool boss.
Benitez was succeeded by Leonardo, who had just been sacked by neighbours AC Milan six months prior following a disappointing league campaign. His reign was followed by the equally uninspiring tenures of Gian Piero Gasperini and Claudio Ranieri.
But the worst was yet to come under Andrea Stramaccioni. The former youth team coach lead Inter to an earlier unimaginable ninth place in this season. Sure, injuries played their part in Inter's dismal campaign, but the coach's tactical rigidity and inexperience were blatantly exposed by opposition teams.
President Massimo Morratti now looks to finally end this run of less than average coaches by making Napoli's Walter Mazzarri his first signing of the off-season, according to football-italia.com.
Another major reason for the plight of Inter was their failure to rebuild after their historic treble. The Nerazzurri rested on their laurels and failed to recognise the importance of building a team for the future.
A look at the transfer dealings of the blue and blacks over the past three seasons makes it clear why Inter are struggling. In the 2010/11 season the only notable buys were those of Andrea Ranocchia and Giampaolo Pazzini, whereas exciting players such as Mario Balotelli, Ricardo Quaresma and Davide Santon all left the club.
But the most glaring transfer blunders were to come towards the end of Stramaccioni's reign. During the last season, Inter did acquire Samir Handanovic, Alvaro Pereira and Mateo Kovacic - all astute pieces of business. But Stramaccioni failed to activate the clause to make Andrea Poli's loan deal permanent, with the Italian youngster being hugely impressive this season for Sampdoria.
Also sold in January was Brazilian youngster Philippe Coutinho, who has since been a catalyst for revival at Liverpool, exciting youngster Mattia Destro and Wesley Sneijder who was - putting it simply - the best player Inter had in their squad.
To replace them Stramaccioni bought in 35-year-old Tomasso Rocchi, Ezequiel Schellotto and Zdravko Kuzmanovic - none of them quite of the level of Inter Milan. In the end, even with a net loss of €47m in player dealings, Inter still could not challenge for anything in what became their worst season in recent memory.
This inability to recognise problem positions and rebuild adequately was singled out by current Juventus coach Antonio Conte as the main reason for Inter's sad plight, as reported by football-italia and goal.com.
Even though Inter's botched transfer policy and woeful management have contributed hugely to Inter's current situation, one should not forget the injury crisis that has plagued the San Siro side during the course of the campaign.
First-team regulars such as Antonio Cassano, Fredy Guarin, Walter Gargano, Diego Milito, Rodrigo Palacio and Walter Samuel were all out for extended periods during the just concluded season. Add to that the injury suffered by captain and talisman Javier Zanetti towards the end of the campaign, and you get the picture of just how bad the injury crisis was for the San Siro outfit.
Throughout the three seasons following the treble, the story has been much the same.
What needs to be done
Morrati now faces the unpleasant situation wherein he must take drastic measures to stem the rot of the once great side. First up, Andrea Stramaccioni should be relieved of his duties at the club and appoint a manager with significant experience and success in the Serie A - such as the likes of Napoli's Walter Mazzarri or Udinese's Francesco Guidolin as his successor.
These men have consistently shown that they are capable of taking up the mantle of a top side, and have produced results even though they have operated on significantly lower budgets than Inter Milan. The onus will then be upon the manager to identify the positions that need strengthening and make astute buys in the transfer market.
Inter's significant spending in the last two transfer windows means that the new manager is unlikely to get a huge transfer war chest. The loss of European football for next season is not necessarily a bad thing as this will give Inter Milan some much needed time for the compulsory rebuilding of their squad - much like Juventus two years ago.
If they do rebuild under the helm of an able manager, this team can take the footballing world by storm again. But if not, what will happen is anybody's guess.
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