The Nerazzurri have everything in place to improve on last year’s showing and prove they are a force to be reckoned with again, writes Richard Hall
If you ask Giuseppe Bergomi, he will tell you that Inter’s best signing of the summer was putting Luciano Spalletti in charge of the squad. The former Roma Coach was charged with taking this talented bunch of individuals and making them into a cohesive unit. They needed some additions, that is true, but not an overhaul, so the pre-season would be spent finding out who Spalletti could work with and who perhaps needed to leave. The players didn’t just need to listen to their new Mister, but they also needed to take responsibility for the fact they have under-performed for too long.
Actually having a pre-season would be key for the Nerazzurri, after last year’s campaign saw Roberto Mancini depart two weeks before the opening Serie A game and the chaos was evident in the results. This time they have trained hard, played well and Spalletti can see his team looking closer to his vision.
His idea of an innovative and quick squad who can move the ball with confidence, whether on the break or in possession, is coming to fruition. His introduction of a version of 4-2-3-1 has worked well in the early games and seen the Milanese play at a much higher tempo. One of the main positives to come out of this is that the possession is controlled, quick moving and the players are willing to make decisions on the final ball. This is something that has been missing in recent years, so consequently the team often looked sluggish, indecisive and got the ball clogged up in midfield.
The Coach has waited before judging his playing staff, whether this is on character or ability. There have been no knee jerk reactions and this has paid dividends. A man who is used to dealing with Francesco Totti has had no problems getting through to Gabriel Barbosa. He has even managed to get a tune out of Stevan Jovetic, who has looked good in pre-season, even chipping in with some sensational goals. Eder is another who has impressed. Joao Mario was given a new role as a Trequartista and this is vital for him, as he has lacked stability, often used as a utility midfielder rather than having a distinctive role.
Getting the best out of the current squad will be an ongoing concern, but Spalletti has already seemingly unified the camp and the way the club have managed the transfer window has been slow, but well thought out. The shipping out of numerous players from Rodrigo Palacio to Frederico Dimarco has allowed the club to operate within Financial Fair Play parameters and it looks like this will enable them to keep hold of assets like Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva.
Players have not been arriving in the numbers that they have over in the red and black half of the city, but this does not mean Inter have been lazy. Borja Valero is an excellent addition who, whilst 32 years of age, can work as a metronome in the midfield and has already demonstrated his ability to funnel attacks. Dalbert arrives from Nice, another excellent addition in a position that needs improving on. His power, pace and delivery is key to how Spalletti wants to play the game. The way that Matias Vecino can move the ball around will also be of use, whilst Daniele Padelli and Milan Skriniar are upgrades.
Inter approach this season somewhat under the radar, as they have not been one of the main big hitters in the transfer window. Those who they have brought in are the right players to improve the squad and it is with this that the new Coach hopes to be able to enable his tactical plan. The Nerazzurri will be looking for the Champions League this term and they certainly promise to be more dynamic, quicker, more direct and if Spalletti has anything to do with it, they will take responsibility on the pitch for themselves and each other.
It’s no secret in the Inter camp that Champions League qualification is a must. Luciano Spalletti has the tools to work with as the team already has a strong core and, whilst needing minor tweaks, it can still be competitive. The club will have had a full pre-season, something that hampered them last year, and a more balanced squad, so the Nerazzurri will be confident that European qualification will be possible.
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