Internazionale have always embraced their name and history, but under Antonio Conte the Nerazzurri may also exhibit more of the green, white and red.
Not only will the formation be different, but the style too, not mention the personnel. The increase in Italians in this squad could also, by the end of the transfer window, give Inter a look that it hasn’t had in years. The club that claims to be ‘International’ has kept its promise and often not even fielded an Italian in the starting XI. So why is the new Coach insistent on changing this and will it make a difference?
When Inter chose Conte, they hired a man who was intent on changing the identity of Inter. He wanted to transform the style of play, the speed of the game and make them what he sees as the perfect representation of an Italian team. The former box to box midfielder always has had clear ideas about how his teams should play, and this was especially evident at Juventus and then Chelsea. Now he brings this to San Siro and fans of the Nerazzurri will certainly see a transformation.
Hard work and a clear focus have always been two things that Conte had in his playing career. It was no surprise he brought this through to his coaching career, but these two key features were added to by the influence of the Coaches he met along the way. Giovanni Trapattoni, Carlo Ancelotti, but in particular Marcello Lippi.
Under Lippi, Conte discovered just how much hard work and physicality could influence the game. His teams as a result have been fit, strong and intelligent. He learned from Lippi tactically too, as with a 4-3-3 formation and industrious style, Juventus won titles in 1995, 1997 and 1998. Lippi, like Conte now, had clear ideas that were to be executed. They trained hard and they also learned how to understand how to bounce back from defeat.
These values were clear when Conte’s Juventus went on to incredible success domestically under his stewardship. His core of Italian players, Gigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo and others acted as the leadership group and understood his message. Pirlo famously said: “When Conte spoke, his words assaulted you.” Perhaps the reactions of an Italian core resonate with the rest of the non-Italian speakers? It is certainly something he seems keen in installing with his current group. Stefano Sensi has arrived, with Nicolò Barella and Mattia Darmian linked, added to the likes of Antonio Candreva, Matteo Politano, Andrea Ranocchia and Roberto Gagliardini. This Italianisation of Inter is part of the Conte template.
As the Nerazzurri get ready to welcome in a new era, they will certainly see a difference in intensity and approach. Conte has been successful because he has the ability to work out the best system for his team. He played with a 4-3-3 at Chelsea, but after defeat at Arsenal he switched to a 3-4-3 and they went on to win the league. He knows when to alter the systems, but in Europe he has been criticised for being too limited with his tactics. On arriving at Inter, he insisted that all youth level teams at the club switch to the 3-5-2 and it will be interesting to see if his senior side has the ability to do this also. The early signings of Diego Godin and Valentino Lazaro suggest that he has identified that this is the way he wants to begin life in Milan.
Inter can look forward to this new era with hope. For a team that under their last few Coaches have lacked style and energy, this will be a welcome change. They are not switching styles, they are simply being offered something they didn’t previously have. They will see more Italians in the team, they will have a shape and an aggression they haven’t possessed and this will at the very least make them competitive. The disciple of Lippi has won at Juventus, he has won a Chelsea and now he plans to win at Inter.