The only thing ‘Pazza’ about Inter last night was that they were ‘crazy good’. In a night when Inter played as Antonio Conte intends them to, they swept aside a hapless Brescia side 6-0. The result showed that even with extreme rotation, the squad should have what it takes to push Juventus and Lazio all the way, but the key is always consistency. The coach will have to achieve this if he is to convince the fans that the culture of imploding has gone for good. Already, since football returned, Inter have shown signs it has not gone just yet.
Conte raged against the press after the 6-0 drubbing of Brescia. “We scored six goals and did not concede any, so that ought to be reason for satisfaction. There are always positives watching Inter, but some only want to see the glass half-empty and not half-full.”
You can see his point. In his eyes, since the break they have beaten Sampdoria, drawn with Sassuolo, beaten Parma and thrashed Brescia. They can argue that they are not out of the title race and that they have achieved this with heavy rotation. They have played quick aggressive football, which culminated in last night’s near perfect performance. Conte is looking at this from the background he is from. It is very much a Juventus technique that looks at winning and results only, no matter how you get them. It is perhaps for this reason why he is frustrated that people are not acknowledging what he sees as achievements.
Most professional sports teams and serial winners would agree with the points above, but let us instead assess them from an Inter mindset. First of all, you have to start a little earlier and must still be bemoaning the defeats to Lazio and Juventus before the break that put you out of the title race. It is true that Inter played well against Sampdoria, but the Genoese had been in poor form and the Nerazzurri played poorly in the second half, nearly throwing the game away.
The draw against Sassuolo was crazy, as they gave an early goal away, only to go 2-1 up, they concede, 2-2, go in front on the 86th only to concede again in the 89th, typical Pazza Inter, and don’t talk to me about Roberto Gagliardini. The trip to Parma was a disaster, the worst performance of the season and they were lucky to steal it in the end. The 6-0 was almost perfect, so I bet they mess up now against Bologna. This is the Inter mindset. It didn’t come from nowhere, Nerazzurri fans have had decades of this drilled into them through bitter experience.
Unfortunately, for Conte the only way to shift this mentality is consistency. If Inter had won all of these games in the same manner, people still would not be convinced, but if the Nerazzurri can consistently put in the work ethic, the aggression, the running and the clinical finishing, game in, game out, then the mindset may change. Under Jose Mourinho, the performances were not great every game, but his Inter were near impossible to beat. Giovanni Trappatoni’s Scudetto winners were solid and produced moments of ‘turbo charge’ where it seemed they could just up a gear. This was consistent.
The challenge for Conte is clear. They have Bologna, Hellas Verona, Torino and SPAL before facing Roma. If he can get the same energy and performances in these games, then the points should come. Continue this way against Roma and even if they lose, people will start to believe. If instead they continue to dip in and out of games or only show up in the first half of matches, often living on a wire in the second half, then the tag will stick.