It began with an (undeserved) defeat against AC Milan in the Italian Supercup, followed by several defeats in the league and by the exit from Coppa Italia against Napoli (1/4 finals) and in the UEFA Champions League against a very poor Marseille (1/8 finals). A 6th place in serie A is Inter's worst finish since 1998-99 (8th). Poor results matched - or explained - by other numbers: three coaches in nine months. None of them really helped by the players, apart from the occasional good (as misleading) performance.
The lack of consistency in the technical and managerial areas was indeed reflected on the pitch. To review the season through players, I decided to split good and bad in two groups, choosing only one symbolic player for each area (defense/midfield/attack).
Lucio. Always been a very generous player. A true team player. Lucio is an old school footballer, the type of team mate you want in your team. One never afraid of taking responsibilities; no fear of fans' boos or to face one-against-one situation in any part of the pitch. A true warrior. A natural winner. But what used to be a very brave centre back turned out during the season to have become a risky one. The difference is made by those 3-4 yards that Lucio often conceded to his opponent even at this prime: in the past the Brazilian always managed to recover, which is not true anymore. Now for him when the striker is gone, is gone for good. Sunset Boulevard is always a tough and ungrateful route for ageing champions. Better to see Lucio go now, with some reputation still to defend, than discarded and forgotten as a fossil or, even worst, as a bad player.
Dejan Stankovic. Inter's most fervent fan among players, Deki is on the verge of becoming the last-Materazzi replica. The epitome of the modern worn out player, Stankovic still has heart, passion and desire but at the top level he can't be a number four anymore and not even a number ten. When he arrived in Italy, at Lazio, he was so natural in both roles that was very hard to assess which one was the best for him. Now that he can't be a first choice for any position in midfield, he should be advised to move towards less demanding leagues.
Giampaolo Pazzini. Claudio Ranieri chose him as Inter's first striker. The former Sampdoria hitman is a hardworking forward, always ready to fight for high and/or dirty balls in the penalty box, etc. But he's no world class. Simple as that. He would be the first one to admit he can't be compared to the likes of Ronaldo, Ibrahimovic, Eto'o, Inter's number nines in the recent past. Pazzo can be a good deputy striker but if he becomes your first choice upfront it means you are not in a great club or you are not a great manager. During the season Inter faced both situation.
Javier Zanetti. What an athlete. What an example of fitness and attitude. Older than many young coaches (Stramaccioni's one of them), Saviero is still one of the most dynamic, powerful, players in the squad. Not only. Zanetti still delivers. Forced years ago to leave his right back position to accommodate the Maicon-express, at the moment he's more consistent and reliable than the Brazilian (who, incredible to believe, suddenly looks older than the Argentinian).
Estaban Cambiasso. Don't ask him to build the game, just put a playmaker alongside him and you are sure that the heart of your midfield will be balanced. Cambiasso can work in a 4-4-2 or as left midfielder in a 4-3-3, where he can exploit his ability to appear in the penalty box like a ghost and score precious goals. Most of all the Argentinian is still the most flexible of the lot. Cambiasso managed to combine (very) well with Thiago Motta, also to provide cover for the likes of Sneijder, Obi or Nagatomo when required. Not easy to find another one like him.
Diego Milito. The comeback of the year. At 33 il Principe scored 26 goals in 41 games (24 out of 33 matches in serie A), only 4 less than the Triplete year when he played more games (52). A performance that confirmed his class. Can be Diego Milito one for the future? He has still two or three seasons ahead at good level. But despite the goal ratio seems to suggest the opposite, Milito's decline (you can spot it in some movements) has already begun. Maybe Inter should be less sentimental and take the last chance to sell him for good money.