Wednesday December 16 2020
Is Conte humiliating Eriksen?

Christian Eriksen’s spell at Inter is not going as one would expect. Giancarlo Rinaldi analyses Antonio Conte’s choices and suggests there is only one possible ending.

It feels a bit like being put on the footballing naughty step. When a player is sent out to warm up or, worse still, comes on with just a few minutes to go in a match where the outcome is already decided it often has the bitter whiff of punishment.

It might be alright for a youngster desperate for any game time he can get or, perhaps, an old-stager trying to reach some appearance record but for a seasoned professional, it has to be a little bit humbling. Poor Christian Eriksen has been sent to tidy his room quite a lot of late.

There’s something in the Dane’s demeanour that makes it all the more disconcerting. He has the downcast look of a man resigned to his fate under Antonio Conte and simply marking time until he is set free. If you found him making chalk marks on a wall at the Suning Sports Centre to count down his remaining days there would hardly be surprised.

The most glaring example of his recent punishment exercises was a blink-and-you-missed-it appearance against Bologna with the Nerazzurri already 3-1 up and cruising. However, in truth, this was just the latest in a line of cameo roles which have become the leitmotif of his time in Milan. His highlights reel so far would most likely include copious footage of the fourth official holding up his number on the illuminated substitute’s board.

Even on night in a key Champions League clash and with a midfield reputedly in pieces, Eriksen did not get the start. He was widely touted in the sports papers as a potential saviour for the Nerazzurri - with his nearly 200 international appearances between clubs and country - but to no avail. Against Real Madrid, he got on in the 85th minute with a reluctance that suggested a member of the crowd, if there had been one, might have got on before him.

The former Tottenham started at Cagliari, for the first time in over a month, but was replaced after less than one hour.

His coach, of course, has denied any talk of turbulence between himself and the player - describing their relationship as “excellent” in a terse response to questioning. He insisted that all his team selections were done for the good of the team and urged the player to keep working hard. His board then backed him fully. None of this would surprise any veteran Conte watchers.

It is unlikely he would genuinely want to humiliate one of his own players, what possible motive could he have? However, he is certainly not averse to a managerial show of strength and his treatment of the player seems to smack a little bit of that.

After the tug-of-not-much-love with Inter in the summer he now occupies a position of some power and he is not afraid to use it. He is the kind of coach who will stand or fall by results - his interest in being likeable, popular or sympathetic comes a very distant second to his desire to win. Eriksen looks like nothing more than collateral damage.

Anyone who remembers Conte as a player might wonder how he would have responded to such treatment himself. The answer, probably, is roll up his sleeves and work, work and work some more. But he was a very different type of footballer and - it would appear from the outside anyway - character to the former Spurs man. In terms of carrot and stick, you get the feeling that the player might respond much more favourably to a portion of orange vegetables right now than another metaphorical beating. His boss, however, is no vegan Masterchef.

Whatever side you take - and you are free to sit in the middle somewhere - it feels like a bit of a shame for both club and footballer alike. These things happen, of course, and it isn’t the first time a big transfer has not worked out and it surely will not be the last. Inter could do with someone more useful to their cause, at least under their current coach, and Eriksen needs a team where his matchday involvement lasts longer than your average advertising break.

It looks like a tale that can only end one way - with a transfer in January. Then, most likely, we will have to wait for the autobiographies to come out in a few years’ time to reveal what exactly went on behind the scenes.

Have your say...
Conte is one of the most selfish FOOTBALL COACHES in recent history! That thing everyone says about how much he wants to win, is almost 100% only 4 himself, team comes way after! Never adapts to the club's or game's condition, only does things his own way & these r da results - Inter losing final from Sevilla, NOT WINNING a thing, finish last in group!
We all saw even in those short moments, what a game-changer Dane is - vs Shakhtar, Sevilla etc, If he puts him on, Eriksen will prove him WRONG!
on the 21st December, 2020 at 5:48pm
I answered the question asked.
He is not humiliating him. Conte is there to pick the best team and the team he's been picking which does not include Eriksen can't be that bad considering they sit top of the table.
I have absolutely no interest in where Alex f did he didn't have players at his disposal that Conte does, in this team Eriksen is an average player, it's as simple as that
on the 17th December, 2020 at 9:47pm
I truly don't know what has happened to this once terrific player who shone brightly at Tottenham.He has always beem a terrific passer and playmaker who has seemed to have lost the fire for the game. That said I do not understand why he left the EPL, was it dislike for Mourinho as he had flourished under Pochettino who had a different style of play and personality. Conte does not have the time or patience for Eriksen to find his game.The pressure in Milan is too great. Hoping he regains his form
on the 17th December, 2020 at 7:50pm
Anon - You can't say he's overrated and then say Conte is there to pick his best 11. Sir Alex Ferguson won a Champions League with John O'Shea, Darren Fletcher, Wes Brown and Owen Hargreaves. A good manager will find utilization for even the most limited player so long as they put the effort in. Eriksen is remaining more professional than most modern players would be. I think Conte is using Eriksen as a petty way to get back at Inter. Conte didn't want him so he's sending a petulant message.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 5:55pm
If they can move Eriksen on for any sort of decent fee and replace him with Locatelli, RDP, Nkunku or Aouar that would be good business. I fear however they'll move him on and then bring in someone like Xakha or Kante who is a good player, not as good as he used to be though and who has zero creativity.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 9:59am
On paper Eriksen looked a great fit for this Inter team playing behind Lu-La with the energetic Barella and Vidal/Broz behind him making up for his lack of running. However in reality it hasn't worked out that way and he needs to be sold. I don't like how Conte is treating him at all and i'm resigned to the fact he will replace him with yet another hard worker in midfield leaving zero creativity but on the other hand Eriksen has looked awful when he has been given chances earlier on
on the 17th December, 2020 at 9:57am
Domx, unlike Conte, Donald Trump delivered results on his promises.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 3:04am
He's overrated. Conte is there to pick his best 11.
on the 17th December, 2020 at 12:46am
We”re managed by Donald Trump basically, a petty, vindictive man child, only interested in his own fragile ego, willing to destroy everyone and anyone else because they he can never responsible for anything that happens - so always ‘in charge’ but never actually ‘in charge’
And also in male pattern baldness denial
on the 16th December, 2020 at 7:33pm
Actually, I take back my earlier comment. Papu Gomez is available and far better.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 7:24pm
What can you expect from a coach who use "Best XI Formation" i.e. 3-man defence with 2 fullbacks, on official matches?

Conte is a tactical idiot.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 5:16pm
I think he did not come for free, some 20mil euro...
on the 16th December, 2020 at 3:06pm
Some have suggested it could be a minimum appearances thing in his contract. But I agree, it’s highly unlikely Conte is doing it to be spiteful. Like you say, he only cares about winning and the opinions of others outside the club passing judgement probably mean as much to him as a squashed fly on the bottom of his shoe. He’ll have his reasons and he won’t care that outsiders don’t understand or know what those reasons are, only that he knows them and that’s enough for him.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 3:06pm
I don’t know why people keep going about Eriksen he had his chances at the beginning and he showed nothing.if you have seen Eriksen at Spurs he was useless for the last 2 years for me Eriksen it’s not good for top teams anymore he such a lazy footballer no passion no determination in his play the only thing he has is technique he is good for Sampdoria or even Sassuolo and for his national team because the whole team will play for him.let him go.
on the 16th December, 2020 at 2:55pm
I know another team in Milan who might want a number 10...
on the 16th December, 2020 at 2:36pm
Conte needs to go. Buys has beens and plodders.

Nobody watches football to watch men running hard and tackling hard. You pays your money for the wtf moments and this Conte team has no flair and is seriously boring to watch.

I want them to lose, so he gets the sack. €12m a year to make inter into Burnley. Well doneF
on the 16th December, 2020 at 2:35pm
Big fan, Inter no good as before. Help, i can not leave website please
on the 16th December, 2020 at 2:30pm
What I fail to comprehend is that by doing such things to Eriksen, wouldn't it lower his resale value? Sure Inter got him for free and all, but wouldn't it be a lot more beneficial to get as much as they can?
on the 16th December, 2020 at 10:28am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.