Inter’s fans were out in force against Frosinone, 63,645 to be precise, and they were not to be disappointed. The Nerazzurri put the agony of the previous week in Bergamo behind them and proved that they were made of much more sturdy stuff than in previous years. Under Luciano Spalletti, they are maturing into a team that not only has potential but is also starting to entertain. This is what brings the crowds out in Milan: promise and excitement and, what’s more, consistency.
The bright lights of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, either appear gradually as you walk from the metro at Lotto, or hit you immediately, as you rise up from Metro Stadio San Siro. One thing that was notable on Saturday evening was the droves of fans that packed the walkways and pavements. This was, with the greatest respect, only Frosinone. It wasn’t a game against Roma or Juventus. The people who have trodden the same path this season, whether it be Milan or Genoa, have continued to grow. They do so because they believe there is something happening with Spalletti’s team, something special.
This was also spectacular because, after all, Inter had been soundly beaten 4-1 in Bergamo the previous week and they deserved their thrashing. It was perhaps also incredible that the fans flocked, as it was common knowledge that the likes of Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic would be rested for the important Champions League clash against Tottenham Hotspur in midweek. The fact that the support has been so consistent is good a sign for Inter. They have had good runs before, they have signed promising players in recent years and have had large crowds - but not like this. This time there is a belief that the team are looking like establishing themselves back in regular contention for Serie A and this isn’t lost on Spalletti. He said after the game to DAZN, “Inter want to get stronger and stronger, to be among the top teams in Serie A and the Champions League. The fans teach us how to behave, as they are always there, with us.”
This unity is developing quite simply because, even in defeats like the disaster against Atalanta, the players are taking responsibility. This goes a long way with the fan base as, much as they may sing ‘Pazza Inter’, they detest the notion. One of the most important differences when talking of responsibility, is in reference to the squad players. Often the likes of Dodo, Ricky Alvarez and many more have left the Meazza frequenters lamenting, “where have all the Julio Cruzs gone?” Spalletti knows that if Inter are to exist with strength on all fronts, everybody in the squad must be accountable. They may not like their Turin rivals, but Juventus are the best example of how a squad outshines any individual. Even more so this season as Cristiano Ronaldo looks to be transformed into an almost utilitarian version of himself.
Lautaro Martinez and Keita Balde certainly showed against Frosinone that they too are taking steps to shouldering responsibility. They are the future of Inter as Balde (23) and Martinez (21) are immensely talented, but are also become players who, when given responsibility, will take it and own the opportunity Spalletti gives them. For too long Inter have leaned too heavily on the deadly Mauro Icardi, and to good effect, but if they are to jump to the next level, one they have all the ammunition to get to, then they need to share the burden.
Napoli are a case in point. The Partenopei lost Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus but Maurizio Sarri challenged the rest of the team to share the goal tally. Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and company did exactly that and took Napoli to the next level. The Inter Coach is now laying down a similar challenge, and in truth it doesn’t always work first time. Martinez was poor in the Nerazzurri’s destruction of Genoa but he persevered and came good against Frosinone.
Spalletti is clear that this is a work in progress. He claimed after the Frosinone game that, “at times my team make bad decisions, so we still need to mature and improve.” This is true, Atalanta was an example but they do now seem to be eliminating the Pazza aftershocks and instead are becoming consistent and able to maintain a level. Inter have a bright young team that is learning quickly that they have a responsibility to share the burden. The fans know this and this is why they are packing out a colossus of a stadium like the Meazza, against a team second bottom of the Serie A table.