Sunday October 18 2020
Conte at a crossroads after derby defeat

Inter are not in crisis after a 2-1 derby defeat but Antonio Conte needs to be more flexible as he finds himself at a crossroads, writes Richard Hall.

Defeat in the Derby Della Madonnina is not a disaster for the Nerazzurri but it does highlight a problem. Antonio Conte has been more than vocal since the Europa League Final and the message has been “back me and my plan.”

Inter have done just that, both in support of his tenure and in the market but something is just not quite right. The Milan Derby defeat showed that there are some issues that still need to be addressed. Conte has made incredible progress with the team but perhaps now is his time to compromise and become more flexible.

The decision to play Aleksandar Kolarov at center back was a wrong decision. That was clear to see. It does not however, mean that Conte has bungled the season nor does it mean that his transfer policy was wrong. It may prove to be the case, we will see but rather than blaming his policy of bringing experience in perhaps, the argument lies elsewhere. Let us use the Kolarov example for a moment as it is at least topical. The Serbian is still a good player even at 34 years of age; he is no Zlatan but then again who is? The problem is not with bringing him in; it was how he was deployed.

Danilo D’Ambrosio also comes into this argument. He has been one of Inter’s most improved players of late. He has performed well when he has been tasked to be a center back but in the Derby he was also found wanting. This performance does not mean he is a bad player nor does it undermine his recent achievements. He was exposed as Conte played a back three with a high line against a Milan team with pace out wide. In hind sight this maybe but both Kolarov and D’Ambrosio were always going to be exposed.

Juventus fans all around the country will be smiling and saying, “we told you so.” Conte is a winner because of his unshakable belief in himself; however, this is also his Achilles heel. His lack of tactical flexibility was perhaps why the Old Lady were so abject in the Champions League and as time went on, teams began to figure out his 3-5-2 that he stands so loyal to. Look at what happened when Max Allegri came in at Juventus, he kept the same system until they lost at Genoa, his move to a four-man defence thereafter was a perfect time to introduce a new way. Would he revert to what Conte had introduced, of course but he now had two ways of playing.

The fact that Antonio has demanded the unequivocal support of the Inter board means he will die on his sword if things go wrong. This seems to be a fact that is generally accepted apart from the definition of what constitutes success. Many of an Inter persuasion would say that that means winning the Scudetto and if this is the case then the pressure is on. The Italian media were critical after the Derby defeat and have labelled Conte as stubborn and naive. Alessandro Costacurta hit the nail on the head. He claimed that it would not have mattered if Alessandro Bastoni was playing because Inter do not have quick defenders and therefore against certain opposition, playing this formation with such a high line is almost nonsensical.

The overall problem for Inter is hard to assess. Going forward they look incredible, even if they were not clinical in the Derby. Conte works hard on this and normally after a game when they make errors they do not make the same mistakes the game after. The intensity and mind set are vastly improved but there has to be another option defensively. The key question here is, will Conte change? There is no evidence in his past managerial career to suggest he will. So then the question becomes, just how far can he take this team?

The Derby defeat does not mean that Inter are in crisis. The Madonnina mess up does not mean that all the experienced players Conte brought in are useless. It does not mean that Inter cannot win the Scudetto, it simply highlights a frailty. Milan are a very good team under Stefano Pioli and they exposed these weaknesses. Conte now has a choice, he can try and find a plan B or he can push mercilessly on with the same system. The reality is probably the latter but this is his gamble, he was the man who asked to be backed and he would deliver; now it is time to see if he does.


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Have your say...
"So far Napoli and Milan haven’t really been tested in terms of conceding early"
It's worth mentioning that not too long ago Milan came back from 2-0 down to beat Juve 4-2.
Unlike other recent Milan teams, their heads don't drop when behind. They also scored right at the end against Rio Alves to equalise.
Still think Inter is favourites for the title though.
on the 23rd October, 2020 at 10:10am
last year and year before, Inter had a lot if Italians in that lineup.. Conte got his wish from ownership.. he got his old, experienced players. I think he's too obsessed with win now at any cost.. players get tired of him at some point. Too bad players like Sensi won[t get a chance to continue their development..
on the 21st October, 2020 at 11:12am
@Conte forever

"a missed call from theo on lukaku"

I presume you saw the game, did you see in the beginning of the game when Lukaku went full on with studs on Theo? If he would have checked VAR on that, Lukaku would have been sent off.
on the 21st October, 2020 at 10:08am
I know, but the full strength Inter defense allows Kolarov or Young more attacking freedom down the left without compromising on the solidity of the defense. I can't wait for Rebic to be back but there were periods of the game where the Milan attack broke down not for a lack of effort but due to a lack of creativity. Rebic has the effort but not the creativity so I don't think he would've been a massive addition, as much as I like him.
on the 21st October, 2020 at 9:04am
@Conte forever

"Kessie and bennacer are certainly decent, but gagliardini is equal to them both"

Id say Bennacer is currently one of the most interesting centre midfielders in the league, won MVP in Africas cup and is wanted by tons of big teams. Kessie has grown in to the player he was for Atalanta, and a beacon in the mid. Cmon, They are both a head go Gagliardini... be honest.

You might be right on Calabria, still he is young and to be honest still growing
on the 21st October, 2020 at 7:26am
@viktor - also vidal sent off twice? questionable. But what isn't questionable is that Gazzetta dello Sport critiqued Mariani's perforance and highlighted the Kessie miss as the biggest error he made. THey then highlighted his 2 other errors as Kjaer missed second yellow and then also mentioned a missed call from theo on lukaku. No mention of any missed calls on vidal.
on the 21st October, 2020 at 12:43am
@ viktor - arguable - young has performed better than perisic has in this role so would be closer to starting for us, calabria certainly wouldnt get close to our team. And kessie and bennacer are certainly decent, but gagliardini is equal to them both. None of them are stars, but are decent.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 11:38pm
@conte forever

Vidal should have been sent off twice.

Neither young nor gagliardini would start for Milan.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 11:58am
@inter - nobody is disputing that inter have a much stronger squad, hence why you are aiming for title, we only want top 4. But with COVID it is unlikely to be the last time you play with a decimated squad, likely to happen to everyone. At least you have subs to choose from, we have nobody to choose from if we lose a few of our best players. But we are on the right track, we would have never won this game a season or 2 ago.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 9:43am
however i agree on the penalty - but this is an iffy one. Offside if hes passing the ball, but if hes not passing the ball and it is a deflection, then the rules state it shouldnt be given offside. Could easily have been given. But regardless hakimi's miss was almost as bad as gagliardini's last season, i reckon he couldnt have missed that again if he tried. So it wasn't so much as milan winning as scoring a couple of goals and holding on for dear life.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 6:31am
@viktor - all credit to milan's win, but how are inter not stronger? They had skriniar, bastoni, sensi, naingollan out who def can change the game, milan had rebic. Then there is young and gagliardini, who aren't good enough for starting line up, but more than good enough to play for milan. Sanchez was a last minute inclusion, you played a half strength inter team. And kessie should have been sent off, it was far less than what sensi was sent off for last week against lazio.
on the 20th October, 2020 at 6:28am
@viktor - kolarov means no stupid penalty and im blaming him for the complete lack in defending for the second goal. With Skriniar and Bastoni, this completely transforms the inter defence back to the best defence in italy as shown last year. but you are right, goals win matches. Inter created a ton of chances and did not score. The chances were easier than the 4-2 win we had last year. Again congrats on win, but inter would lose missing that many chances against anyone
on the 19th October, 2020 at 11:53pm
Some of you guys are really disrespectful with constant moans about how only Milano clubs were affected by the FFP...

ROMA, because of FFP, had to sell:

LAMELA, MARQUINHOS, Romagnoli (I don't rate him but you do), Gervinho, BENATIA, PJANIC, Paredes, RÜDIGER, Emerson, SALAH, ALISSON, MANOLAS...

Each year, one had to go! :(
The whole world doesn't revolve only around Milano, you know? Some roads lead to Rome as well. LOL

I like the way you don't like Conte! :)
on the 19th October, 2020 at 11:20pm
pfft a small hiccup. its the milan derby after all... its always a crazy affair with too much emphasis. game prolly should of ended 2-2 draw to be fair. but both teams looked / played great. Inter with their line up is gonna be a power house and Milan with Ibra in this form is surprise and pull off some upsets and crazy comebacks. Conte is a master coach,he just has a fragile shell. if things dont go perfect he gets to angry and crumbles and puts too much stress on team.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 6:15pm
Im surprised FI haven't written a single article about Milans current form and winning streak. Meanwhile we keep reading articles about Inter, Juve and Napoli.

on the 19th October, 2020 at 5:59pm

"If Inter had a full strength back line this was an easy Inter win"

Well they need to score to win right? ... Easy inter win... Do you know what Rebic would have done instead of Leo??
on the 19th October, 2020 at 5:58pm

Toying with Romagnoli? Lukaku is one of the most in form strikers in Europe currently and I think it was a even battle. Romagnoli is one of the best center backs in the league, again we have conceded 1 goal in 4 games, not to mention haven't lost since Feb, are you telling me that he has nothing to do with that??

Castillejo is contribute with way less than Calabria. Milan have a solid starting eleven, specially a young and hungry one. Thats all
on the 19th October, 2020 at 5:53pm
To anyone blaming the referee I think he had a good game. The one contentious issue was the Inter penalty but how can it be a penalty in the first place if Lukaku is offside? There was a questionable Hakimi booking. Vidal should've been sent off twice by my count. Ibra elbow could've been a red. If Inter had a full strength back line this was an easy Inter win. They didn't - so it wasn't. Stay humble, Inter will probably win the next one.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 3:25pm
@ Viktor

Come on, Romagnoli has been great but this match was the worst I have watched from him. Just terrible, Lukaku toyed with him as he wanted. And to be honest, the last derby the situation was not really a lot different.

And don't speak BS about Calabria. The guy is an absolute mess, it is just terrible, and by far the worst starter of Milan currently.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 3:17pm
@Inter Malaysia

"The result was also was made possible when several incidents (incorrect decisions) during the match all favour the weak side."

Lol, such as?? Clear Pent?? What else? A off side from Lukaku that thank God was proven by VAR. What else?

How is Inter currently a stronger side than Milan when Milan for the last 24 games have scored every game and haven't lost since Feb. Pip down and digest the loose.

For now Milan is Red and Black.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 2:58pm

Its not uncommon for strong team to lose a match against weak opponent.

Thats what happened in the derby.

The result was also was made possible when several incidents (incorrect decisions) during the match all favour the weak side.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 2:47pm
@ ACM Northern voice I thought I was quite positive with that post! Luck is part of the game and life but with Milan showing more signs of being clinical and having better game management there's a better chance we can ride that luck. A huge thing is also the confidence. When we do get a dip in luck hopefully the players, and more importantly fans, won't lose that confidence. Everyone just needs to keep supporting these players and manager. Look at Conte getting written off after one defeat.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 12:26pm
@I miss Luciano Moggi @ Juventus

"Remember the Milan clubs are the only clubs that have not been immune to FFP "

As I recall ACM choice not to participate in Europa League in order to balance the books. Directly an action to level the FFP rules. Forgot about that already?
on the 19th October, 2020 at 12:09pm
@I miss Luciano Moggi @ Juventus

We do not currently think we are going to win the serie a, but we will do better than last year.

I want to point out that we conceded one goal in 4 games and scored 9 doensnt really reflect any "Luck"

However, just as Galliani said, No-one talks about Milan being first, with very little spending and a extremely young team. They deserve more credits for their accomplishment since Feb (since our last loss)
on the 19th October, 2020 at 12:08pm

Sometimes the weaker teams wins. Inter have a stronger squad than AC

Milan lost the '05 CL to a pretty average team, but that game certainly showed Milan were the stronger team

As for the Bastoni comment by "Inter", he said Milan wouldn't have scored if he'd been playing, but that's guessing. However, it would have been a different game, naturally, and Kolorov DID give away the penalty. The result could've been anything with Bastoni playing but he's obviously better than Kolorov at CB
on the 19th October, 2020 at 11:41am
I don't like Conte. I don't like his attitude. I don't like his tactics. I don't like how he takes credit for the good, but the bad stuff is always a blame game for anyone except him. I don't like his face. However, 4 games into the season is not the time to be condemning him just like it's not the time to be talking about a Scudetto for Milan. I remember a few years ago Roma were in control until Christmas and then crumbled away. One step at a time. In the meantime, I will enjoy the win.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 11:27am
I would also point out that Inters transfer strategy was also to meet corrupt Platini's FFP regs - remember the Milan clubs are the only clubs that have not been immune to FFP - Platini designed FFP specifically for the Milan clubs so that another club would win. Good luck to Milan, good 3 points (only).
on the 19th October, 2020 at 9:52am
Inter need to tighten at the back, but Maldini's heir is 100% correct - when ACM's luck changes as it will (especially in a crazy season as we are in) the fans will be very frustrated as they currently think ACM are going to win Seria A.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 9:48am
@Inter Malaysia

"The game was won by Milan but it shows that Inter is the stronger team. "

So inter loses and that shows they are the stronger team? Do explain .
on the 19th October, 2020 at 8:27am
@ Bastoni was literally hours away from starting and with him neither of milan's goals would have happened

Yes mate, he would have caught Ibra preventing him for the rebound and he surely would have intercepted Leo´s delicate pass for Ibra tap in.

Bastoni would have matter at all, you simple lost. Deal with it.
on the 19th October, 2020 at 8:26am

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