By Kris Voakes | Italian Football Editor
It all started in east London, not too far from where the Olympic Games will take place in a few months time. Inter’s Primavera side, playing with 10 men for the last 50 minutes, beat Ajax in the NextGen Series final at Brisbane Road in late March, earning their boss Andrea Stramaccioni a promotion to the first team.
But while most of the sporting world will congregate over the road at the Olympic Stadium in July and August, the 36-year-old will be busy building up for Inter’s 2012-13 campaign after Massimo Moratti confirmed the former Roma youth boss will remain in charge at San Siro next season.
Stramaccioni’s maiden derby victory over AC Milan on Sunday night helped the president come to the decision that he was right in bringing in the young coach in favour of Claudio Ranieri six weeks ago, with the Nerazzurri having since lost just one game to leave them with a chance of still qualifying for the Champions League next season.
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It has been a fantastic turnaround in fortunes for a side who had won just one of 10 matches in the second half of the campaign under Ranieri and had been eliminated from Europe by Marseille to rub salt in the wounds. While Inter won by the odd goal in nine in a frantic game against Genoa amidst four penalties and two sendings-off in Stramaccioni’s first match in charge, there quickly became much greater direction about the side.
Two home wins and two away draws saw them draw in on the tangle for third place before a monumental 3-1 triumph at Udinese, sparked by a superb showing from Wesley Sneijder, gave them real hope. In the past week they’ve added victories over Cesena and, notably, Milan, while their defeat at Parma wasn’t punished elsewhere.
Last night's derby win would have been memorable enough even if it hadn't meant that their nearest and dearest won't wear the Scudetto shield on their jerseys next season, with the celebrations after Diego Milito's hat-trick and Maicon's thunderbolt summing up the new spirit in the side since the latest change of coach. It got you wondering whether this would have happened with anyone else at the reins.
Going into the final game, Stramaccioni now knows that he is fighting for his Inter to be in the Champions League, not somebody else’s. If they make it, he is the one who gets to stand on the touchline as the anthem belts out at San Siro. And he deserves it too.
The last eight games have been a trial for the coach, and by simply getting them this close, he has more than done his job. The 17 points they have added in that time make a mockery of the nine collected from their previous 10. More than that, he has got Sneijder playing somewhere near his best again after the Dutchman had been all but abandoned by Ranieri.
Now all that is needed is Moratti’s backing in the longer term. The decision has been made that Stramaccioni is the man, and so with that the constant chopping and changing needs to end. Inter have had six coaches in two calendar years, and it is no coincidence that with instability has come struggle.
Stramaccioni deserves this chance, so a real chance is what he must get. No sacking five games into the new season; no deciding that somebody better has become available; no pressing of the panic button. A big overhaul needs to take place, but it all needs to happen with Stramaccioni at the helm.
He is the future, and the future – finally – looks brighter for Inter, with more triumphant evenings like Sunday a possibility if they stand by their man.