Pioli tasked with restoring Inter Milan to respectability

Stefano Pioli. (Riccardo De Luca/AP)

ROME — Former Lazio coach Stefano Pioli was hired by struggling Inter Milan on Tuesday, replacing the fired Frank de Boer and tasked with restoring the 18-time Serie A champions to respectability.

Inter announced that it signed Pioli to coach through next season and that he will be introduced on Thursday.

Besides Lazio, the 51-year-old Pioli previously coached his hometown club Parma plus Chievo Verona, Palermo and Bologna in Serie A. In 218 matches as a Serie A coach, his teams have a record of 73 wins, 62 draws and 83 losses.

"He seems to me to be a logical choice," former Inter president Massimo Moratti said. "He’s a coach who knows Italian soccer and who has always made his clubs play well."

De Boer was fired last week after Inter lost seven of 14 matches in all competitions.

Inter’s youth squad coach, Stefano Vecchi, had been given temporary control of the senior team for a 2-1 loss at Southampton in the Europa League on Thursday — leaving the Nerazzurri last in their group — and a 3-0 win over last-place Crotone on Sunday in Serie A.

Inter is in ninth place in the Italian league, 13 points behind leader Juventus.

Pioli’s debut will come in the derby against AC Milan on Nov. 20.

Considered the next in a long-line of Italian tacticians, Pioli was considered the safest choice after a long weekend of meetings and interviews conducted by Inter management — even though he has never coached a major club.

Other coaches reported to have interviewed for the job included Marcelino, Italian great Gianfranco Zola and the well-travelled Guus Hiddink.

Big Italian clubs rarely hold interviews for coaches in the public manner that Inter did, which sparked perplexity among the club’s supporters.

"I never held any casting interviews but I observed (coaches) on my own," Moratti said. "They’re different systems but it’s not like one way is right and the other is wrong. It’s a transparent method to make a well-informed choice."

In Pioli’s first season at Lazio, he led the Rome club to a third-place finish. He was fired by Lazio in April after a 4-1 derby loss to Roma.

As a player, Pioli was a centre back for Juventus, Hellas Verona and Fiorentina.

While financial details were not announced, the Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Pioli will earn 1.4 million euros ($1.5 million) for the remainder of this season and nearly 2 million euros ($2.2 million) for next season.

De Boer was hired less than two weeks before the season began following the unexpected resignation of Roberto Mancini, who reportedly wanted more control over the transfer market and clashed with Suning, the Chinese retail giant that took control of 70 per cent of Inter in June.

Inter fans have blamed the club’s complicated global management structure for the team’s troubles.

The club president is Erick Thohir, an Indonesian entrepreneur who purchased Inter from the Moratti family three years ago and who now has 30 per cent of the ownership after the recent restructuring.

Michael Bolingbroke, an Englishman who formerly worked at Manchester United, resigned his position as CEO on Monday.

And there are five Chinese representatives on the club’s nine-member board of directors — Ren Jun, Mi Xin, Liu Jun, Yang Yang and Zhang Kangyang.

During Inter’s win over Crotone, supporters displayed banners that read, "Shame on the management," and, "Thanks Frank, you’re paying for errors that were not yours."

Pioli becomes Inter’s ninth coach since Jose Mourinho led the club to a treble in 2010. The others were Rafa Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Claudio Ranieri, Andrea Stramaccioni, Walter Mazzarri, Mancini and De Boer.

Former AC Milan, Inter and Juventus coach Alberto Zaccheroni also labeled Pioli the best choice.

"He has shown over the last few years to be the smartest coach with the most ideas," Zaccheroni told Rai state radio. "Pioli knows the Italian league. Inter players are in need of certainties right now, and a coach like Pioli can provide them."

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