As it stands, the Inter first team squad is as follows:
Francesco Toldo, Julio Cesar, Paolo Orlandoni
Ivan Cordoba, Javier Zanetti, Maxwell, Maicon, Nicolas Burdisso, Marco Materazzi, Nelson Rivas, Walter Samuel, Cristian Chivu
Dejan Stankovic, Luis Figo, Luis Jimenez, Patrick Viera, Olivier Dacourt, Esteban Cambiasso, Sulley Muntari, Pele, Mancini, Francesco Bolzoni
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Julio Cruz, Adriano, Hernan Crespo, David Suazo, Mario Balotelli.
One thing that Inter, amongst many Serie A clubs, have been critisized for, is the age of the squad. Italian coaches seem to value experiance over youth. This is because the pace of the game is slower than elsewhere in Europe, and the game is more about tactics. But Jose Mourinho has come in, and looks as if he will bring down the average age of the squad. Olivier Dacourt and Luis Figo also need to be off-loaded, as they are long past their prime and don’t have the pace to be playing at the highest level still.
Last season, Roberto Mancini’s side were vulnerable, due to their lack of wingers. Luis Figo was being deployed on the wing in many matches, but is not capable of playing more than 20 matches a season. But Brazilian, Mancini’s arrival from rivals AS Roma will give a new dimension to the team. Ricardo Quaresma could also be on his way to the San Siro, but they will have to act quickly if they want the winger, as the Italian transfer window closes at 7pm on September 1st. Dejan Stankovic, a player much admired by previous manager Mancini, has seemingly been made surplus to requirements by Jose Mourinho. Whilst Adriano, a player that seemed to be unwanted at the San Siro, is reportedly being handed a new contract. So Mourinho and Mancini do seem to have contrasting views on many things. But how will they line up?
Here’s how they lined up for the 2007/08 season opener versus Udinese: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Cordoba, Samuel, Maxwell, Stankovic, Dacourt, Zanetti, Figo Ibrahimovic, Cruz. Javier Zanetti was deployed in the centre of midfield for the first match of the season, but over the course of the season, he was used in five different positions. But this is what team I see Jose Mourinho sending out in this season’s curtain raiser, provided the summer’s transfer activities are already concluded: Julio Cesar, Maicon, Cordoba, Chivu, Maxwell, Mancini, Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari, Ibrahimovic, Balotelli. But I think one defender and one more winger are needed to have a squad capable of competing for the Champions League.
I expect captain Javier Zanetti to start in the centre of midfield, holding his position but free to make his nursting runs forward. For a player of his age, Javier has an extrodinary work rate, and stamina to match. He holds the ball very well, and with the tactics he learnt as a full-back: I now feel that he is ready to inherit that holding role. Whilst summer aquisition, Sulley Muntari, is a very versitile player, and although prefering the centre midfield role, is more than capable of playing on the left wing.
Another thing which I have noticed, is that Inter tend to like versitile players: Zanetti can play anyway across the back line and anywhere across the midfield; Chivu can play left-back, centre-back or centre-midfield; Muntari can play centre or left-midfield; Maicon and Maxwell can play at right-back or right-midfield and laft-back or left-midfield respectively; whilst Cordoba can also play anywhere across the back line.
The irony in the appointment of Jose Mourinho is that Chelsea sacked him because they wanted to win the Champions League, whilst Inter hired him because they wanted to win the Champions League.