The glorious 2009-10 season
Inter won the 2009–10 Champions League, defeating reigning champions Barcelona in the semi-final before beating Bayern Munich 2–0 in the final. Inter also won the 2009–10 Serie A title by two points over Roma, and the 2010 Coppa Italia by defeating the same side 1–0 in the final and which made Inter the first Italian team to win the treble – that 2009-10 season under Jose Mourinho is a part of Italian football’s folklore and it was expected, a new era for them had begun.
But in the following decade, the story would be different.
Jose Mourinho joined Real Madrid while Inter signed Rafa Benitez and in 2010 Inter defeated Roma 3–1 and won the 2010 Supercoppa Italiana, their fourth trophy of the year.
In December 2010, they claimed the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time after a 3–0 win against TP Mazembe in the final.
The performance in the Italian Serie A was not satisfactory and Benitez was fired and was replaced by the former Brazilian star Leonardo.
Leonardo started with 30 points from 12 games, with an average of 2.5 points per game, better than his predecessors Benítez and Mourinho. On 6 March 2011, Leonardo set a new Italian Serie A record by collecting 33 points in 13 games; the previous record was 32 points in 13 games made by Fabio Capello in the 2004–05 season. Leonardo led the club to the quarter-finals of the Champions League before losing to Schalke 04 and led them to the Coppa Italia title. At the end of the season, however, he resigned and was followed by new managers Gian Piero Gasperini, Claudio Ranieri, and Andrea Stramaccioni, all hired during the following season.
A decade of struggle
From 2011 to 2019 – the story of Inter had been all about changing of ownerships, coaches, struggles, and false dawns.
In 2012, Inter announced that Moratti was to sell a minority interest of the club to a Chinese consortium led by Kenneth Huang.
On the same day, Inter announced an agreement was formed with China Railway Construction Corporation Limited for a new stadium project, however, the deal with the Chinese eventually collapsed.
The 2012–13 season was the worst in recent club history with Inter finishing ninth in Serie A and failing to qualify for any European competitions. Walter Mazzarri was appointed to replace Stramaccioni as the manager for the 2013–14 season and guided the club to the fifth Serie A title UEFA Europa League.
In 2013 an Indonesian consortium (International Sports Capital HK Ltd.) led by Erick Thohir, Handy Soetedjo, and Rosan Roeslani, signed an agreement to acquire 70% of Inter shares from Internazionale Holding S.r.l.
Immediately after the deal, Moratti’s Internazionale Holding S.r.l. still retained 29.5% of the shares of FC Internazionale Milano S.p.A.
Thohir, who also co-owned Major League Soccer (MLS) club D.C. United and Indonesia Super League (ISL) club Persib Bandung, announced on 2 December 2013 that Inter and D.C. United had formed a strategic partnership.
During the Thohir era, the club began to modify its financial structure from one reliant on continual owner investment to a more self sustain business model although the club still breached UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations in 2015. The club was fined and received squad reduction in UEFA competitions, with additional penalties suspended in the probation period.
During this time, Roberto Mancini returned as the club manager on 14 November 2014, with Inter finishing 8th. Inter finished 2015–2016 season fourth, failing to return to Champions League.
Suning Holdings Group via a Luxembourg-based subsidiary Great Horizon S.á r.l. a company owned by Zhang Jindong, co-founder and chairman of Suning Commerce Group, acquired a majority stake of Inter from Thohir’s consortium International Sports Capital S.p.A. and from Moratti family’s remaining shares in Internazionale Holding S.r.l.
According to various filings, the total investment from Suning was €270 million.
The first season of new ownership, however, started with poor performance in pre-season friendlies.
In August 2016, Inter parted company with head coach Roberto Mancini by mutual consent over disagreements regarding the club’s direction. He was replaced by Frank de Boer who was sacked in November 2016 after a dismal show.
The successor, Stefano Pioli, didn’t save the team from getting the worst group result in UEFA competitions in the club’s history.
Despite an eight-game winning streak, he and the club parted away before the season’s end when it became clear they would finish outside the league’s top three for the sixth consecutive season.
The former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti was appointed as Inter manager, signing a two-year contract and eleven months later Inter clinched a UEFA Champions League group stage spot after going six years without Champions League participation thanks to a 3–2 victory against Lazio in the final game of 2017–18 Serie A.
Due to this success, in August the club extended the contract with Spalletti to 2021.
Antonio Conte joins Inter
Steven Zhang was appointed as the new president of the club.
In January 2019, the club officially announced that Lion Rock Capital from Hong Kong reached an agreement with International Sports Capital HK Limited, in order to acquire its 31.05% shares in Inter and to become the club’s new minority shareholder.
After the 2018–19 Serie A season, despite Inter finishing 4th, Spaletti was sacked.
Twelve different managers took the reins at San Siro in the following nine years but the club languished in Serie A, finishing as low as ninth, failing to reach a major final and enduring a six-year absence from the Champions League.
In May 2019, Inter appointed former Juventus and Italian manager Antonio Conte as their new coach, signing a three-year deal.
In September 2019, Steven Zhang was elected to the board of the European Club Association. In the 2019–20 Serie A, Inter Milan finished as runner-up as they won 2–0 against Atalanta on the last matchday.
They also reached the 2020 UEFA Europa League Final, ultimately losing 3–2 to Sevilla.
After the end of last season, Conte was not satisfied with the outcome because he wanted to win the title and expressed his frustration, and reports said, Inter would part ways with Conte even though the management was in full praise about the manager.
But thankfully, the relationship between Inter and Conte did not break and the tactical genius from Italy would fulfill his wish this season by ending the decade-long reign of the invincible Juventus in the Serie A.
Antonio Conte’s team sealed the diadem as Atalanta played out a 1-1 draw against Sassuolo at the Mapei Stadium – a result which leaves the Milan outfit with an unassailable 13-point lead with four games left to play.
Inter knew they were on the brink of glory after securing a 2-0 away win against Simeon Nwankwo’s Crotone.
How Inter won the Scudetto this season?
Last season, the mentality of Inter was questioned when the matter was about winning the title because to topple a team like Juventus from their position would require the temperament of a champion, and if that is rediscovered then ultimately it would help to perform much better than the others.
Conte demanded such from his players and he instilled that among his boys.
A drab performance in the derby loss against Milan and draws against Parma and Atalanta brought them as low as seventh in November. To make things worse, Conte suffered a humiliating elimination from the Champions League, finishing bottom in a group with Real Madrid, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Shakhtar Donetsk – who they even twice failed to score against.
The morale was down and the only way to get back on track was by winning the Scudetto.
Conte rejuvenated the whole unit and made the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Hakimi, and Nicolo Barella create an impact. After much frustration, Eriksen too was able to secure himself a regular starting spot and even his influence was evident.
Conte’s side snatched the top spot from AC Milan on February 14 and have held it ever since, with a 3-0 triumph over their cross-city rivals in February making them the runaway leaders during the business end of the season.
Conte’s side also boasts of the best defensive record in the division and the second-best attacking record behind Atalanta, while their +45 goal difference is currently superior to all of their rivals.
The Nerazzurri scored goals, defended well, dominated at the center of the park and Conte’s 3-5-2 formation reaped a rich harvest – the Blue and Black would be back in the UEFA Champions League next season and this glory is expected to inspire them for achieving the ultimate glory.