Andrea Ranocchia may have been unlucky for his part in the bizarre own goal he scored against Genoa, but the whole incident was symbolic of Inter in recent weeks. After the game, the defender insisted that they would start afresh against Benevento, but it has all been said before.
Luciano Spalletti also cut a frustrated figure, claiming his team are following his instructions, yet he still seem hapless. The comments are fundamentally bizarre considering the Nerazzurri started the season so well, yet the excuses are becoming repetitive.
Eder came deeper than Mauro Icardi normally does. This has worked in recent games and allowed the wide men to be more direct and cut inside. Inter in turn dictated play, but a lack of creativity or a player willing to take control and try and make a difference, saw them instead pass the ball around the opposition box with no penetration.
Both Samir Handanovic and Spalletti pointed to a lack of self-esteem. They have been working on the little, intricate elements to their play that can give them marginal gains, yet nobody seemed willing to take the risk, almost too scared of making a mistake. Perhaps this also explains what happened in the second part of the game especially when Inter were a goal down. Now the fear of making a mistake morphed into fear of defeat and the team seemed to play even more within themselves.
Spalletti was so agitated when Inter were flying high and people said they were just lucky, so determined to prove them wrong. The fact they have lost confidence so rapidly and so comprehensively suggests the players believed they were riding their luck too.
Once they imploded, they just couldn’t recover and now they are at the end of their ‘easy run’ where they have picked up five points out of a possible 12 against Crotone, SPAL, Bologna and Genoa.
Perhaps the last thing Inter and their Coach need now is a game against a Benevento side who just overcame fellow relegation strugglers Crotone in dramatic fashion. This was supposed to be the perfect lift before the team face Milan in the Derby Della Madonnina, but the mood is bleak.
The problem is about application on the pitch and it is time that every player takes collective responsibility for having courage to share the goals and take chances. Spalletti said before the Genoa game that his team were growing and that they had simply hit a bump in the road that had been eradicated, hopefully, by scraping past nine-man Bologna. Whilst the Genoa defeat does make this hard to see, as the performance was so tepid, they are not in a bad position.
The aim for Inter over the last few seasons has always been the Champions League and they are now in fifth place, but only two points off Roma in third. They are lucky to be in a race with the two Capital clubs, who also have psychological implosions at times. A win against Benevento and in the Derby would see them still looking strong for the pre-season ambitions.
Maybe Inter’s level is neither what it is now, nor what it was in December, and with another change in fortune then they could be back performing at a high level? One thing is for certain, there is nowhere left to hide for the players, they have no excuses now and how they deal with the next two games will be their toughest test of character yet.