Serie A

When Zlatan and Milan ended Inter's stranglehold - Serie A in 2010/11

9:00am on Wednesday 8th April 2020
By
Mark Doyle

After five successive Scudetti, Inter saw their Serie A dominance ended by city rivals AC Milan. The loss of coach Jose Mourinho to Real Madrid was decisive, with the analytical Rafael Benitez proving an inadequate replacement for the charismatic Portuguese.

Still, huge credit had to go to Massimiliano Allegri, who fully justified the Rossoneri’s faith in him by ending their seven-year title drought. Indeed, the former Cagliari boss expertly managed several colossal egos, including those of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho and Antonio Cassano.

Allegri got the very best out of the talented but temperamental Kevin-Prince Boateng, restored the defensive solidity for which the Rossoneri were once renowned - they conceded just 24 goals across the 2010-11 Serie A season - and pulled off a masterstroke in acquiring the abrasive Mark van Bommel in January to bolster the midfield.

CHANGES

Allegri arrived at San Siro in June, two months after he had been surprisingly sacked by Cagliari, and saw his squad strengthened at low cost.

Boateng was co-owned with Genoa, while Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola wanted rid of Ibrahimovic at all costs, so the Swede was allowed to join Milan on loan, albeit with an option to buy for €24m.

Ibra’s move to city rivals Milan hurt Inter fans dearly and their pain turned to anger when club president Massimo Moratti refused to make a single significant signing until Giampaolo Pazzini joined from Sampdoria in January.

By that stage, though, a frustrated Benitez had already been replaced at helm by Leonardo.

Juventus’ new coach, Luigi Delneri, at least managed to see out the season but his services were not retained after failing to get the best out the Old Lady’s most expensive summer signings Leonardo Bonucci (€15.5m) and Milos Krasic (€15m).

Elsewhere, the economic crisis hit hard. Indeed, Roma were forced into taking a gamble on former Inter ace Adriano that did not pay off at all, but Lazio picked up Sao Paulo midfielder Hernanes for what proved a bargain €8m.

SEASON SUMMARY

After losing their opening game of the season, at Genoa, Lazio won seven of their next eight to move to the summit of the standings, but Edoardo Reja’s men didn’t have sufficient strength in depth to challenge for the title and they were ultimately beaten to fourth place by Udinese.

Francesco Guidolin’s side were one of the stories of the season, with Alexis Sanchez in fine form alongside Antonio Di Natale, and a 2-1 victory over Lazio on matchday 36 - Di Natale got both goals - played a major role in the Zebrette qualifying for the Champions League.

Juventus, meanwhile, looked certain to finish in the top four after going unbeaten between the tail end of September and the turn of year, but they then capitulated, with a run of seven defeats in 11 matches contributing to a second successive seventh-placed finish.

Inter started promisingly, going top after just four rounds of action, but was to be as good as it got for Benitez, who was dismissed two days before Christmas, after falling out with club president Massimo Moratti.

Serie A Player of the Year, Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Indeed, the Spaniard’s sacking had come just five days after leading Inter to Club World Cup glory and the lacking of backing he had received in the transfer market had undoubtedly contributed to the Nerazzurri’s patchy form in Serie A.

However, it was also evident that Benitez had lost some of the players, something only made all the more obvious by the which in which Inter’s form picked up dramatically following the arrival of Leonardo as boss.

Indeed, the Brazilian threatened to derail Milan’s march towards the title, helping the Nerazzurri draw to within two points of the league leaders going into the derby on April 2.

However, the Rossoneri triumphed 3-0 thanks to an Alexandre Pato double and Allegri’s charges embarked upon a five-game winning streak, ultimately sealing the Scudetto with a scoreless draw with Roma.

AWARDS

PLAYER OF THE SEASON

ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC

Ibrahimovic returned after a turbulent year in Spain to maintain his unblemished record of Serie A success by winning a sixth successive Scudetto (on the field).

MANAGER OF THE SEASON

MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI

The former Cagliari was rightly rewarded for having led the Rossoneri to a first Serie A title since 2004 in what was his first season at San Siro.

TOP GOALSCORER

ANTONIO DI NATALE - 28 GOALS

The 33-year-old only further enhanced his iconic status by retaining his Capocannoniere crown by netting 28 goals for Udinese.

GOAL OF THE SEASON

JUAN MANUEL VARGAS’ stunning volley against Udinese is a goal of sensational technique, given the Fiorentina ace was moving away from the goal when he made the perfect connection with the ball.

TEAM OF THE SEASON

HANDANOVIC; MAGGIO, SILVA, NESTA, ARMERO; HAMSIK, MOTTA, BOATENG; IBRAHIMOVIC, DI NATALE, CAVANI

MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER

Robinho

Manchester City to Milan

€18m

KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON

Any real chance Inter had of winning their crunch derby with Milan ended the moment Christian Chivu was dismissed for a professional foul on Pato early in the second half. The Nerazzurri were just 1-0 down at the time but Milan went on to win 3-0 and that victory propelled them to the title.

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