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Soccer-Bleak times ahead for Inter fans

Reuters

Jan 20 (Reuters) - Inter Milan supporters are unlikely to see any immediate improvement in their team's plight as the club's Indonesian owners appear determined to avoid splashing out on new players for the time being.

Business tycoon Erick Thohir has already make it clear that Inter, beaten 1-0 at Genoa on Sunday, are in a "transitional period" and are more likely to offload players than sign new ones.

But Thohir, who watches most matches on television in Jakarta, is under increasing pressure to act after a dismal run of one league win in eight games which began immediately after he took over as club president in November.

Former AC Milan, Juventus and England coach Fabio Capello joined the chorus of criticism after the Genoa match when he said that Inter could not afford to wait for success.

"When you talk about important teams, you expect that when a new president comes in, he will change things to reinforce the squad," he said in an interview with Fox Sports Italia. "Thohir is not doing that, this is the truth.

"Anyone who buys up an important club like Inter can't say these things. This is an ambitious side and the fans remember victories such as winning the treble in 2010. They can't think about a transitional year.

"I am not convinced by Thohir because he is doing nothing. Inter are a patrimony of Italian football."

Thohir took over as president after the International Sports Capital consortium, owned by himself two Indonesian partners, paid 75 million euros ($101 million) and took on all of Inter Milan's debt of about 180 million euros in exchange for a 70 percent stake.

His first visit to the San Siro was inauspicious as he witnessed a 1-1 draw with Sampdoria which coach Walter Mazzarri described as Inter's worst performance of the season.

Since then, though, things have got worse, including a 4-2 defeat at Napoli, a 1-0 loss at Lazio and Sunday's soggy 1-0 defeat at Genoa which left them joint fifth in Serie A.

MORE FRUSTRATION

The transfer window has brought added frustration with Thohir making it clear that there will be no Manchester City or Paris St Germain-like injection of cash.

"The next two or three years certainly aren't going to be easy, but we need to make the club healthier," he said last week.

"Inter are going through a transition period. Ideally, the average age of the team should be 26.

"That doesn't mean we don't appreciate or recognise the worth of the treble-winning heroes of 2010, but we do need to increase the number of young players in the squad."

"We can consider this season as a transitional one, not a year zero. This is the last year of a fantastic cycle. The new cycle will begin next season."

"There aren't many opportunities in the January transfer window," he added. "The fans shouldn't expect marquee signings, but we'll make some interesting moves should the possibilities arise.

"At any rate, we need to sell in order to create the right economic conditions for buying."

Thohir has guaranteed that Mazzarri's job is safe, which is unlikely to have been the case under his predecessor Massimo Moratti, who employed six coaches in the three years after the 2010 treble win.

One of them was Gian Piero Gasperini, who was fired after five games in charge and got his revenge by leading Genoa to a 1-0 win on Sunday.

He pointed out that, apart from their run of five successive scudettos between 2005 and 2010, under Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho, Inter had basically been struggling since the 1990s.

"In the last 15 years or so, the only ones who have done well there have been Roberto Mancini and Jose Mourinho," Gasperini said.

"Apart from them, great players, great coaches, mediocre player and mediocre coaches....none seemed to make any difference."

(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ed Osmond) Brian.homewood@thomsonreuters.com Reuters Messaging: brian.homewood.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net. To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click on https://forms.thomsonreuters.com/global_sports_forum

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