Now, once again, is the winter of Inter’s discontent and the clouds are certainly louring on the Nerazzurri house. As was exhibited a year earlier, when the snow falls on the city, the Milanese certainly freeze. The ‘pazza’ characteristics of the team are now as noticeable as the grey winding staircases of the Meazza and inevitably they find themselves under pressure. None more so than Coach Luciano Spalletti, who after three straight defeats and elimination from the Champions League, is shouldering the blame for his underperforming team. Whilst he is no immediate danger, the crows will be circling at the end of the campaign.
Those heady days in Rome at the end of last season all seem so far away now. That warm evening when 6,000 Inter fans packed Roma’s Curva Sud to witness Matias Vecino’s last gasp goal is but a memory. The ecstasy was real, the atmosphere indescribable to those who were not there, but the worst thing was that it gave hope. This hope was one of a good summer transfer window and a campaign that would see Inter be pushing for continued Champions League qualification as they moved into 2019.
Now, as the Nerazzurri lick their wounds after a defeat to Bologna, where in truth they were diabolical in all aspects, the annual crisis has returned to the blue and black half of Milan, the fans are in revolutionary ferment. It is a mood that seems strange however when you look at the table, as they are third. Admittedly, they are a staggering 20 points behind Juventus and 11 behind Napoli, but did anyone expect this squad to win Serie A? It’s unlikely.
They are four points ahead of Milan in fourth and when all said and done, can quickly turn this ‘crisis’ around. Parma are next and then Sampdoria and Fiorentina follow, it’s not an easy run but all these teams are beatable. They also face Rapid Vienna in the Europa League, another tie that is winnable and another tournament they could go deep into.
This is not covering up the obvious deficiencies in the team and the tactics. Every Coach since Roberto Mancini has struggled to find a creative midfield structure that can unleash Mauro Icardi. The wide men have never managed to be potent in the goals department, the build-up play is slow and too often the teams relies on moments of individual genius rather than comprehensive team play. Is this all Spalletti’s fault? No, of course not. Other Coaches have struggled with this group and with Inter’s structure. Spalletti also has exhibited traits at Roma, when he did get Edin Dzeko scoring, he did see goals from the wide men and his wingers did score goals.
Even so, it wouldn’t be Inter if they didn’t add to their internal problems by airing their dirty laundry in public. This is a habit that seems to transcend owner, Coaches and Sporting Directors. Icardi’s contract has been a soap opera of monumental proportions, Spalletti himself complained of the public nature and admission of Ivan Perisic’s transfer request and even the professional and shrewd Beppe Marotta has seemingly been ‘Interised’ as he has publicly criticised the tactician, albeit in an indirect way. “I have never sacked a Coach in my 22 years,” but also indicated the Champions League is decisive for Spalletti.
This approach may be fantastic for the Italian media, but it does make it look as if the club is in more turmoil than it actually is. Of course, Spalletti is under pressure if he doesn’t reach the Champions League, just like Eusebio Di Francesco or Gennaro Gattuso, but that is obvious, even before the issues. The simple fact of the matter is that whilst things are far from perfect, the Nerazzurri’s incredibly naïve understanding of PR is hurting them.
Is Spalletti as risk? Yes, if these results continue. The real question is, should he be the focal point when the problem was evident before he even arrived?