As we approach the start of the 2018-19 season, Serpents of Madonnina take a look at what issues the Inter Milan had last season:
Stepping out of the shadow of Inter’s winning era
This has been a problem since the fall from grace experienced after we won the champions league in the 2009/10 and this season was no different. It is almost better for Inter not to be considered contenders for anything, that way there is no room for them to disappoint.
After Luciano Spalletti led Inter to a historic best ever start in Serie A, whispers of Scudetto contenders could be heard in the media. Spalletti - a man who has never won a Scudetto - was quick to squash these fanciful predictions before Pazza Inter came crashing down by December. This might be one of the team’s biggest issues, they are prone to suffer from a broken mentality.
Consistency in leadership
The list of coaches post-Mourinho goes like this - Rafael Benitez, Leonardo, Gian Piero Gasperini, Claudio Ranieri, Andrea Stramaccioni, Walter Mazzarri, Roberto Mancini, Frank de Boer, Stefano Vecchi, Stefano Pioli, Stefano Vecchi - Luciano Spalletti. Wow even talking about these guys fills me with nostalgic dread and heartbreak. That is a shocking nine managers if we don’t include the interim Vecchi. Nine managers in less than ten years. In one of my previous articles, I compared the Inter Milan hot-seat to the Iron Throne in HBO’s Game Of Thrones. Sitting on this managerial throne is an aspiration for many a manager but few can truly handle its barbs.
Another issue is dealing with new ownership. There were some noticeable teething problems when the Zhang family initially took over the club but now most of that seems to be resolved. Also in terms of the transfer gurus/directors of football - at one point there were several of them and they were not always working in harmony. Suning had specific buys that they wanted to make, former coaches had players they wanted, and the transfer gurus had their own ideas, now there is more of a sense of unity between Spalletti, Ausilio, Suning and even the players and fans, all the targets have been logical ones that everyone has agreed on.
New players didn’t get off the ground running
In the summer transfer window of the 2017/18 season Inter Milan purchased Borja Valero, Matias Vecino, Dalbert, Milan Skriniar, Joao Cancelo and Yann Karamoh. Of the players in this list, only Skriniar made an immediate impact. Valero did a decent job initially but as the season wore on it became painfully obvious that his best years were behind him. Cancelo had an early injury and it took a while before we saw the best of him. Dalbert’s huge transfer fee has meant nothing and it is worrying that players like Davide Santon and Yuto Nagatomo would get the nod over him. The only thing lacking for Yann Karamoh this season was playing time and his finishing ability.
Vecino has been a patchy player at best and suffered because of his midseason injury - honestly without his goal against Lazio I would not be in a rush to keep him. Then winter came around and we had what is becoming a customary drought around that period. We desperately needed help in the January transfer window. And even though we had to wait for him to regain match fitness we got the boost we needed through Rafinha who quickly endeared himself to the Inter faithful with his fighting performances. Conclusion - if the summer buys made themselves more useful then we could have really pushed for third or second.
Two words - Antonio Candreva
Candreva had eight assists last season. A great stat... If you are a right-back! The problem with this statistic is that Candreva takes up a chunk of space in our three-man attack. His 73 shots taken last season yielded no goals. Candreva must be so divisive amongst Inter fans. He is equally as able to hit a blistering shot on target as he is able to shoot it in row Z. His crossing can be pinpoint and remind us - albeit momentarily - of David Beckham or Douglas Maicon but at the same time he can get his crosses wrong in ways those players never would.
Just as adept at losing his marker with some sumptuous play as he is to give away possession needlessly. I never watched him at Lazio, and he did look in form for Italy but what I have seen since he has arrived at Inter has been nothing short of chaotic. Honestly, guys, I cannot tell what this guy will do at any moment on the pitch and if I was his teammate I would be very confused.
It could be a slow build-up play and he will suddenly rifle in a cross. It can be one-touch passes and he will touch the ball eight times. If the team were a giant mass of water; Candreva would definitely be going against the current.
Spalletti has placed way too much faith in him for way too long. If he was younger or in better form, maybe, but I would have been happy with Karamoh getting more game time than him in the 2017/18 season. Oddly enough I believe that Candreva is capable of doing the job that Joao Cancelo did for inter or at the very least be experimented with in that position, it is clear he is more comfortable hugging the wing and crossing than playing close to goal.
Overly reliant on Mauro Icardi and Ivan Perisic
Icardi broke his record and became joint-top scorer in Serie A with 29 goals and Perisic had 12 goals and 11 assists. I believe the next player in line was Milan Skriniar with 4 goals. That goes to show the lack of support if a defender has more goals than the rest of their team-mates. The team needs to get goals coming from all areas of the pitch to truly make a serious challenge the coming season in Serie A.
A lack of cover in defense
The left-back spot has been a chronic dilemma for Inter since someone like Christian Chivu graced the Meazza. And our saving grace Dalbert ended up being more like a shot in the leg. Davide Santon, once touted as the next Paolo Maldini, found new levels of atrocious ways to defend, we bid you good-luck but also good riddance.
And Yuto Nagatomo has had better years but also never should be the first choice in any great team. In general, all of the defensive positions had been suffering in some form or fashion since Jose Mourinho was our leader. We have gone through center-backs galore. And though we have seen improvements under Luciano Spalletti, he was quick to make comment in January stating, “Even my mother knows we need another central defender!”
The right-back position also has not been filled properly since the days of the rampaging Colossus that was Douglas Maicon, but, we briefly fixed that when Cancelo found some form, unfortunately, we could not purchase him when his loan ended.
Knowing their strengths and finding identity(style)
I suspect the problem with Inter historically must be finding unity amongst the contrasting cultures. Sometimes you have little cliques that form with the Argentines or Brazilians but for the most part they come from vastly differing backgrounds and the individuals in the team will, initially, share little common ground. This must be why Inter has always needed a strong coach who can unite these individuals and form them into a collective with a clear purpose. This is what Mourinho did. I’m sure Helenio Herrera did this in some form or fashion. This is what Spalletti needs to do. So far there have been glimpses of fluidity in the midfield, something Inter have never had in abundance.
There is less of a reliance on being perfect defensively than being involved, being able to show the fans that we can play. Again, historically, when Inter is doing well it has been due, in large part, to their defence so this shift may contradict the nature of the club or maybe with Spalletti we may see the growth of a new Inter, a unique Inter no longer trying to resonate with its past.
A playmaker for Inter
Watching Spalletti shuffle between Valero, Vecino, Brozovic, Gagliardino, Candreva and Eder was a painful experience. In previous seasons this has also been a problem area. Since Wesley Sneijder, the playmaker spot has been as vacant as some lonesome crater on the moon. Some of the players who have tried and failed just off the top of my head - Kovacic, Adem Ljajic, Stephan Jovetic, Ever Banega, Joao Mario... Yes, it is a problem area.
We have been talking about someone to help supply Icardi - since we got Icardi! When Rafinha arrived in January one could immediately sense his shine. The Nou Camp shine or whatever you want to call it. I just hoped that Inter wouldn’t take it away and the contrary happened, the kid was infectious, he tried his best to give a little of his glow to everyone else, such is his selfless nature as a footballer. Am I overstepping to say that he is the best playmaker we have had since Sneijder?
What do you think? Post your comments below!