Quick Hits: The Saints and Inter

Going to try something new here on the blog. If there’s an issue or an idea I have that doesn’t warrant a full post, but still is worth discussing, I’ll post it under a “Quick Hits” article (working title-I feel like I’ve seen that elsewhere, but until I can think of something more original, we’ll go with that). I figure this is a better alternative to thinking outloud (translation: talking to myself)–which makes me look like a crazy person–or bothering people who don’t care about sports with my thoughts–which just makes me seem annoying.

1. Don’t Count Out the Saints

Call me crazy (yes, ironic word choice for a post where I just said I don’t want to look like a crazy person), but I’m not ready to write off New Orleans for 2012. The “bounty gate” punishments were deservedly harsh and and the Saints undoubtedly have an uphill climb in the coming season, particularly in a division that will be challenging. That said, I would be far from surprised if a team with Drew Brees and all his weapons can find a way to overcome the odds. In terms of intangibles, Brees also brings the leadership that can help fill the void left by suspended head coach Sean Payton. Now would I bet on all this to happen? I wouldn’t go that far. But I also firmly believe that those in the media who are already closing the coffin on New Orleans are doing so prematurely.

2. Will the League’s Punishment Extend to Scheduling?

Also on the Saints–and file this one in the wondering outloud category–it will be interesting to see how often the league places New Orleans in primetime this coming season. A primetime appearance is taken as a reward by teams, who can benefit from the added exposure. Will the league extend the punishment imposed on New Orleans in this regard? We will find out in April.

3. Ranieri Sacked 

Switching gears to the other football, reports today indicate that Inter Milan has fired manager Claudio Ranieri. Interim coach Andrea Stramaccioni, who will be the club’s third manager this season, has his work cut out for him. With nine games left in the campaign, Inter are now seven points behind Udinese for Italy’s final Europa League spot, and 10 points in back of Lazio for the country’s last Champions League bid, not to mention a staggering 23 points behind city-rivals AC Milan for the top spot in Serie A.

As columnist and blogger Matteo Bonetti notes, the next Milan Derby will be the sixth straight match in the series in which the Nerazzurri feature a new coach. One question to take away from this is how much fault do the parade of coaches that have been fired deserve, and how much should be placed on the players and team president Massimo Moratti. While it would be a stretch to call Ranieri and his predecessor Gian Piero Gasperini scapegoats, the latter group (players and club executive) deserve a high degree of blame as well.

Also, barring the unlikely event Stramacionni is retained beyond June, there will be a high profile job opening at Inter, that will be linked to big names including Jose Mourinho, Andre Villas-Boas, and Fabio Capello. Get ready for some drama.

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