Andrea Stramaccioni

Antonio Cassano in form during Parma introduction

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At his point in his career, Parma seems like a good fit for Antonio Cassano. While there’s cause to thing he could still contribute at Inter or AC Milan (his last two stops), there’s little reason for either of those times to take on that risk when they’re capable of signing more reliable options. But Parma, a team that finished 10th in Serie A and could use a boost in attack? Acquiring a temperamental player who could get more out of Nicola Sanone and Jonathan Biabiany is worth the risk.

At Cassano’s introduction at the club last Thursday, the club were reminded what they’ve acquired, with the highlights of his public appearance with the club encompassing the confounding, often difficult, mostly entertaining personality that’s seen the only 30-year-old make six stops since leaving Bari in the summer of 2001.

On his arrival a Parma:

I’m not sure exactly where we’ll end up, but I’m sure that things will go extremely well. And it’s World Cup year. I hope that this is the last club I play for. I’m convinced we will achieve great things – this is a challenge that I’m convinced I’ll win. People said I was finished as a player following my time at Madrid, however, I’ve won.

More on his arrival, including some vintage third-person:

I’m not here to put my feet up and have a holiday! The more responsibility I’m given the better I react and the more I give. When I’m made to feel useless, then I create havoc! If I play as Cassano can play, then everyone will benefit.”

On Inter Milan’s new boss, Walter Mazzarri, and his departure from the Nerazzurri:

I’d like to thank Branca, Ausilio and Moratti. But not Mazzarri. Before agreeing to take over at the club he called me and told me that I’d be an automatic starter this season with him. Then, after he’d signed his contract, he said that I would be an automatic choice – but to be on the first bus home!

On his last coach, Andrea Stramaccioni:

Stramaccioni? Oh, I see – you want controversy…! Let’s just say I left a lot of friends (at Inter). I had a fantastic relationship with the players there. But I’ve no comment to make about the coach…

On his career and potential:

So far in my career I’ve only achieved 30-40% of what I could have achieved. I’ve played for great clubs, even Real Madrid. I’m always telling myself: ‘Had you done more, where would you have played? Perhaps the moon, on your own?’

Over the years, Cassano has given fans a number of reasons to turn their back on him, but amid a season to vapid quotes and vacuous insight, Il Gioiello’s blend of honestly and egotism is a nice change. He’s honestly, if self-involved. And that self-involvement, not uncommon to athletes at his level, is part of the reason he’s at Parma:

Making the World Cup squad will be my big motivation. If I play the way I can, everyone will reap the benefits

Inter officially announced managerial change

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This summer’s A-list managerial swaps continue, as Internazionale officially announced they have sacked Andrea Stramaccioni and hired Napoli’s Walter Mazzarri.

Usually a Champions League contender, Inter finished ninth place in Serie A this season, horrific by their standards.

The brief statement on their website said, “FC Internazionale would like to thank Andrea Stramaccioni for the great commitment and professionalism he showed in a particularly difficult year.”

Difficult is an understatement.  Just three years off a treble with Jose Mourinho at the helm, they’ve had four managers sacked since then. They have come up €47 million in the negative in net transfer dealings since, despite the departures of Wesley Sneijder, Mattia Destro, and Philippe Coutinho.  They finished this season on five consecutive defeats, a fitting end at San Siro.

Mazzarri, on the other hand, led Napoli to a wildly successful season, finishing second and holding off a surging AC Milan down the stretch.  Before Napoli, Mazzarri struggled to find a long-term position, spending time at 5 Italian clubs over a span of 8 seasons.  He led the Azzuri to two Champions League spots and a Europa League appearance.

As more managerial changes continue to be announced, it’s looking more and more possible like top teams Manchester United, Real Madrid, Inter, Chelsea, PSG, and Manchester City could all see a change.

Poor Strama, Allegri: Inter, AC Milan leave coaches in limbo

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Imagine being a soccer fan in Milan right now. In all likelihood, you either support AC Milan or Internazionale – two rivals whose fan bases currently have one thing in common. Each morning supporters wake up and go to the papers wondering if their manager’s face is going to be sprayed across them. In all likelihood, neither Inter’s Andrea Stramaccioni (pictured) nor Milan’s Max Allegri will make it through the summer.

We talked about Allegri on Monday, when hours of confusion led many to believe he’d been let go. Milan denied the story, said Silvio Berlusconi would meet with the coach on Wednesday, and here we are. It’s Thursday in Italy, and so far, Allegri not only maintains in his job but is getting support from the Milan Ultras. Though rumors persist Clarence Seedorf will be lured from Brazil to man the sidelines with Milan, Allegri has survived, even if he seems uncertain how much longer it can last.

At some point, Allegri just has to let it happen. His resume at Milan is strong enough (first, second, third place finishes), he’ll be able to get other jobs. But if her olds on to this ledge for too long, he’ll miss his opportunities. Other jobs will be taken. He should be planning his exit as much as waiting for it.

The situation’s different on the other side of the San Siro. Stramaccioni was pressed into action last year and did a reasonable job righting their ship, but over the course of a full season, he’s produced disastrous results. Inter finished an embarrassing ninth in Serie A, losing seven of their final nine games.

The 37-year-old former Primavera boss has to be replaced. There’s no circumstance in which Inter can accept those results, meaning the question isn’t so much if but when. And by who.

Walter Mazzarri is the most prominent link, with Inter president Massimo Moratti forced to deny Wednesday rumors that the former Napoli coach has already signed with Inter. Roberto Mancini has also been linked, with Morratti refusing to confirm or deny the man who’s already won three scudetti with Inter could return to the San Siro. Where Inter’s job actually officially open, you’d undoubtedly be hearing others linked with the Nerazzurri post.

At this point, it’s a gambler’s game. Who will be gone first: Allegri? Or Stramaccioni? By the time you read this, bookies may already be paying off their bets.

Matri goal leaves Inter searching for silver linings after Derby loss

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As Inter Milan slipped to sixth in Italy’s Serie A you could already imagine the tick, tick of the volume dial on the Andrea Stramaccioni debate. We’re at the point where any negative result will stoke some embers under the 37-year-old boss, though after today’s 2-1 loss to Juventus at the San Siro, the positives should be noted in any fair evaluation of the Inter boss. Hopefully, the debate about the young Stramaccioni’s quality can saty in stasis for a few more days.

The Nerazzurri fell behind early in today’s Derby d’Italia only to equalize early in the 54th minute through Rodrigo Palacio, just deserts for the effort given after the opening goal. But six minutes later, a breakdown allowed Juve to move through the middle of Inter’s defense, with the effort of Fabio Quagliarella rescuing a ball from touch and finding Alessandro Matri at the near post. Adding an assist to his opening goal, Quagliarella allowed Matri to beat Andrea Ranocchia and hammer the winner past a helpless Samir Handanovic.

It was Juventus playing to type. Over the course of 90 minutes, the only thing that separated their opponents was a few pieces of execution, most noticeably on the second goal. The sides were basically even in shots on goal (6-5, Inter) and possession (50-50), but after going ahead on the hour, Juventus locked down the match. Their win temporarily puts them 12 points clear at the top of Serie A, and with Bayern Munich visiting Turin on Tuesday, you can’t blame Bianconeri supporters for further indulging dreams of European glory.

But in Juventus’s need to show their first place form was a testament to Inter’s burgeoning. Though the Nerazzurri seemed to be slipping earlier this month, that now appears to be more of a phase than a pattern. Still hold a match-in-hand over Lazio and Fiorentina (the two teams above them in the standings), Inter have reason for hope.

Under normal circumstances Inter’s Saturday effort would have cashed in on that hope, but against a team used to stretching the smallest of margins into three-point chasms, Inter were left empty-handed. But that state shouldn’t overshadow the performance Stramaccioni was able to get out of his team, just as Inter’s elimination from Europa League shouldn’t make people forget they embarrassed Tottenham over 90 minutes two weeks ago. If Inter can carry that momentum forward, they may yet challenge for a Champions League spot.

Stramaccioni’s results need to improve, but after two good performances against quality opposition, now is not the time to fuel an inquest. Instead, it would be better to look at what Inter’s done well and ask whether that can be carried forward to Wednesday’s match at Sampdoria.