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Final of the Champions League: Simone Inzaghi, the ‘gentle guy’ who turned Inter Milan’s fortunes around

“The phone rang,” said Giancarlo Inzaghi, Inter Milan manager Simone’s father. “It was Romelu Lukaku.”

“My son tried to convince him,” Inzaghi Sr said to Gazzetta dello Sport. “‘You are the king here. In London, everything will be different.'”

It was already too late. The Belgium striker had decided to return to Chelsea, much to the chagrin of coach Inzaghi.

“It was like losing three players in one fell swoop,” he lamented to his father after Lukaku left Inter in 2021, barely three months after Inzaghi arrived.

Inzaghi comes with high aspirations of carrying on the excellent work of his predecessor, Antonio Conte. The goal was to win back-to-back titles, but Inter fell short due to big-name departures, including Lukaku.

In April of this year, instead of challenging at the top of the standings after their star striker returned on loan, Inter were sixth.

Three straight defeats and a tie at lowly Salernitana had added to the pressure, and Inzaghi was agitated by Lukaku’s wastefulness.

Lukaku has only three league goals before the beginning of April, two of which were penalty kicks. Rumours poured out of every crack in every tabloid. The striker and Inzaghi do not agree. Apparently. Inzaghi was on the verge of collapse. Allegedly. Inter were in trouble. Definitely.

Monza were up next, a newly promoted squad who handed Inter yet another defeat. It was their 11th loss of the season. The vultures were flying around. We are taught that pleasant guys finish last in life, but this is especially true in Italian football. Inzaghi was accused of being little more than a nice guy and a businessman.

Nonetheless, as Inter prepares for Saturday’s Champions League final against Manchester City, that was one of the main reasons he was chosen for the position.

The architect Marotta
When CEO Beppe Marotta took over in December 2018, he was charged with restoring Inter to its previous glory. Inter desired to break Juventus’ monopoly and become a power in Europe again after being forced to sit back and watch them dominate for nine years.

Marotta was the driving force behind Juventus’ dominance. He worked on a long-term project with right-hand man and mentee Fabio Paratici that brought him a lot of delight and trophies.

So, when Juventus elected not to renew Marotta’s contract in August 2018, instead opting for Paratici, Marotta moved on to the competition.

He found a home and a club that needed his abilities at Inter. Marotta, along with their other directors, devised a winning concept targeted at regaining glory, which began in the dressing room.

A cheerful and healthy environment creates success, and Marotta’s first aim was to eliminate all poison, even if it meant sacrificing exceptional talent. Certain players departed, to be replaced by individuals eager to learn, listen, and adapt.

The next step was to cultivate a winning mindset. Inter is a notoriously erratic club, with highs and lows that may be depressingly low. For a reason, they are known as ‘Pazza’ (mad) Inter.

They required a manager who could instill discipline while also inspiring winning consistency. Conte, the mental monster, arrived. The Scudetto was won, and Juventus’ monopoly was shattered. Check.

Europe was the next goal, and when Conte resigned, Marotta had different expectations of his replacement.

He desired peace and stability at the top, a solid figure who wanted the position for the long term and would thrive despite the club’s financial constraints. Someone who can build connection with the players, raise the style of play, and excel in Europe to bring in huge bucks.


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