It’s the first week of December, and in case you haven’t heard, Inter Milan are on top of the Serie A table after thrashing Chievo 5 - 0 on the weekend. And as Will pointed out in his takeaways from Sunday’s match, Inter are also just one of four remaining undefeated teams in Europe’s top five leagues. What a time to be an Interisti!
Even if this only lasts one week, it’s wonderful to see the club confirmed as league-leaders for the first time in January 2016. The fact that they are is shocking to most pundits and fans alike. After a disastrous 2016/17 season, and a seemingly lackluster transfer window, not even the most optimistic of Inter supporters expected this.
You can certainly include me in that grouping of pessimistic fans. Like many of you, I was frustrated at the perceived lack of activity during the mercato, and wasn’t exactly bullish on the club’s chances this season.
Back on July 20th, I argued that, “Luciano Spalletti, while the right man for the job, does not have a magic wand. Without proper reinforcements this summer, even he won’t be able to prevent Inter from disappointing once again.”
At that point in the offseason, the only additions the club had made were to sign Daniele Padelli, Borja Valero, and Milan Skriniar. While Mattias Vecino, Dalbert, and Joao Cancelo would soon follow, the proverbial Major Signing™ never exactly materialized… or so it seemed.
My argument was that, no matter how talented a manager is, he alone would not be able to turn around Inter’s fortunes — unless a few big signings were going to come, this squad of players was doomed to disappoint. I argued that it would take a combination of Spalletti’s tactics, drastic improvements from the current team, and a few major signings for Inter to find themselves in contention for the Champions League… and that the existing group of players were likely not good enough to make it happen.
Well, thankfully, each of those three things have happened so far. The existing squad has drastically improved, Spalletti’s tactics have made a discernible difference, and — even though Inter would spend no more than €24m on a single player this summer — there’s no doubt that “big” signings have been made.
On that last point… Has there been a better and more cost-effective signing in Europe this season than Milan Skrinair? The Slovakian center back has been a revelation at the heart of Inter’s defense. His poise, consistency, and passing ability likely make Skrinair one of the very first names that Spalletti writes on his team sheet each week. Considering that the defender is still just 22 years old, we thought that Miranda would be the player required to carry the backline. Instead, Skrinair has risen to the occasion and is showing that he’s already one of the best center backs in Italy. He may not cost €40m, but Skrinair has no doubt become the “big signing” we were all craving for.
While the success of Dalbert and Cancelo are still yet to be determined, other newcomers, Borja Valero and Matias Vecino, have also been solid in their first half-season at the San Siro. Not to mention that seemingly every other player at Spalletti’s disposal has improved since last season. Just look at the stats:
18 points more than at this stage last season.— Serpents of Madonnina (@SerpentsOfInter) December 3, 2017
11 more goals scored.
11 fewer goals conceded.
everything has improved. everything and everyone.
⚫ ⚫ ⚫ ⚫ ⚫ ⚫ #InterChievo
The credit has to go to the players, and most importantly, to Spalletti. After 15 games, it’s clear that Inter are organized, resilient, cohesive, and ruthless. When was the last time you could use any of those adjectives to describe Inter, let alone all four?
I’m a relatively humble person and am more than happy to admit when I’m wrong. Let’s give credit where credit is due: so far, this season, Luciano Spalletti and his Inter have emphatically proven me wrong.
I’ve never been happier to have been made to look so foolish in my life. Maybe Spalletti has a magic wand after all… Forza Inter!
Author’s note: While we’re on the topic of eating one’s words, earlier in July I also wrote a piece suggesting that AC Milan were having the transfer window Inter that should’ve been having… Yeah, go ahead and make fun of me for that one... While Milan may have broken their bank (literally) for Leonardo Bonucci and numerous signings, Inter have seen great returns from their additions. The Nerazzuri are in a much better position from both a performance and financial standpoint. This season is going a long way to prove that you can’t win a Scudetto or qualify for the Champions League by simply “winning” the transfer window.