Wednesday January 31 2018
Pazza Inter are repeat offenders

Maybe Pazza Inter is a more accurate description than previously thought, as Richard Hall uses sports psychology on a repeating pattern of behaviour.

Former Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta once said that a certain team “always play worse than the sum of their parts. They are paralysed by anxiety, it’s a question of balancing aggressiveness and tactical coherence”. He was talking about England rather than Inter, but the issues are the same. How can Coaches, players and regimes come and go, yet the mental deficiencies still resonate? This is the issue facing the Nerazzurri.

Surely this was different from when Roberto Mancini was in charge? It felt different, but strangely very similar. Inter were approaching Christmas in a better position than when ‘Mano’ had been at the helm in the not so distant past. They were undefeated, they had smashed Chievo, navigated past Juventus and the Luciano Spalletti era looked to be promising the Scudetto rather than simply the Champions League places.

First Sassuolo, then Udinese and all that followed made Inter’s December an absolute capitulation. A draw against Roma after the winter break still offered possibilities as fixtures against SPAL, Crotone, Bologna, Genoa and Benevento all looked winnable, but Inter’s misery was to continue.

In a what can only be called an insipid and lacklustre performance, Spalletti’s men drew with SPAL. It’s true they conceded late on, but the hosts thoroughly deserved the point. How can a team that has a new Coach, some new players and a new ownership make the same mistake that many an Inter team has for decades? How can history repeat itself and a team who has no resemblance to those of Mancini, Rafael Benitez or most of the 90s Coaches, from Giampiero Marini to Roy Hodgson or Mircea Lucescu to Corrado Verdelli, how can they have the same problems?

Inter have for a long time been known as the ‘Pazza’ (crazy) team. A potent mix of unbalance, diamonds and coal, an Alvaro Recoba for every Benoit Cauet, but surely this was only an epidemic under Massimo Moratti? Even that culminated in a Treble win when a Coach like Jose Mourinho managed to get the coal to camouflage the diamonds. Right? Wrong, this is much more damaging than that, this is a club that somehow at its core manages to take optimism and translate this into uncertainty and inevitably tragedy.

Forget personnel, forget Coaches and forget owners, as there has been an ever-flowing supply of these over the years. Sports psychologist Geir Jordet has worked with teams in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, England, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He believes that certain teams are more at risk when the word ‘optimism’ starts to be used. Once the under-dog term is dispelled due to good performances, optimism takes over and here is where the danger lies.

What happens, according to Jordet, is this optimism that comes from favourable public appraisal towards the team could be linked to displays of ‘escapism self-regulation strategy’. This means that, from a phycological perspective, when a team is praised by its fan base in a sudden display of belief, this can bring about an escapist manner that mean the team starts to avoid reality and technically believes its own hype. This trigger blocks in the self-regulatory strategy, that monitors self-performance.

Whilst this may sound far-fetched, it does go some way to explaining why Inter keep failing just as they have built themselves a superb platform. Roma could do with analysing the same ingrained patterns.

Jordet’s theory that anxiety and public appraisal are linked does hold some weight and this in turn could be why Inter are afraid of bad decisions. This is why their chances since the start of December have been so limited and they have played a brand of football that is dull, cagey and unadventurous.

It must be remembered that Inter were not fancied this season and yet Spalletti was instrumental in getting the best out of players who had previously under-performed. Despite not playing a brand of football similar to that being seen in Naples, they kept winning games and seemed to have a deep-rooted will to win. This cannot disappear overnight and yet as December fell, it did.

The fans expected, what’s worst they started to believe, and the pressure fell on to the players, who did not want to make mistakes. Perhaps Spalletti should look to Jordet in the transfer window rather than looking for new midfielders? What could go wrong, after all? Well, this is Inter.

Have your say...
@Al Dino @Boudz

9 out of 10 Juve fans are like you guys, ever so willing to completely ignore the truth and fool yourselves into believing that the victims of your beloved club's crime are the real culprits. You see, there is a reason why Juventus cannot but be a repeat offender.
on the 12th February, 2018 at 9:21am
The shrink could stop in Turin also and help them getting over their inability to win Champions League finals without penalties.
on the 1st February, 2018 at 7:33am
It's called Karma. All the conspiring they pulled to cheat all of Italian football and the fabrication that was Calciopoli has come back to haunt and curse them. Hey but it was Juve's fault they bought Gresko and Cauet and Okan and Farinos. It was Juve's fault they exchanged Cannavaro for Carini and Coco for Seedorf.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 9:26pm
PazzaInter is really a repeat offender.
Article 6 for one.
Not applied as the time lapse to act on it had conveniently expired.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 6:08pm
First Udinese and then Sassuolo.

Al Dino. We would understand this years before you finally accept that even with VAR juventus is favoured and helped by the refs. Ask anyone, apart from juve fans, all will say the same. You know it as well, but cynically enjoy every moment. By now I do too. Serie A is a joke.
Your pathetic comment will not change the facts.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 4:02pm
@Al Dino. Spot on. It is impossible to have a rational conversation without it escalating to just that. What I like about Juve fan base is that for the most part we will critically look at our performances and not be satisfied with 'a win is a win' every time. The Chievo game analysis and comments on BWRAO is a case in point.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 2:04pm
I agree with everything but one.

Inter was winning until December but there were lots of hard fought wins with one goal difference with number of fantastic saves from Handanovic that kept them in game when score was 0-0.
While that is a sign of a champions (winning while playing badly), your whole season cannot be like that.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 1:41pm
on the 31st January, 2018 at 12:35pm
Very good article, as an Inter Fan since early 2000, I noticed this several times, and as an Organizational Expert, I believe Inter as an Organization needs to be reviewed, observed for some time, Inter should be used to pressure with such fan base but still we see people talking about psychological effect.

I think Inter needs to institutionalize its mentality without losing the family sense of club, roles shall be looked at and redefined.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 8:38am
One must not forget the personality of the players. Diamonds and coal are both made of carbon. In squads such as Inter and Roma the diamonds get tainted by the coal, no matter how tuff they are. The need someone to keep them polished, whether it be the waterboy, the coach or the lover.
on the 31st January, 2018 at 8:17am
You should try and explain this in simpler English for Inter fans they usually have a hard time understanding anything other than Conspiracy theories, Cheating, and Spying!
on the 31st January, 2018 at 5:17am

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