Spalletti and Inter – a Match Destined to End in Tears?4 min read
The rumours started to swirl before a ball had even been kicked in this season’s Serie A. With Antonio Conte out of work after leaving Chelsea, many managers shifted uncomfortably in their seat over a few weeks of speculation. Nobody in the Italian game felt the presence of the former Juventus and Italy boss quite like Gennaro Gattuso, but given Conte’s previous links to Inter Milan and the club’s initial preference to hire him over Luciano Spalletti in the first place, another narrative was set.
For a while it looked like Conte would pitch up at San Siro this summer, whether it be as AC Milan or Inter Milan boss. Both clubs have new owners and big ambitions, with Conte more than qualified to deliver on those ambitions. AC Milan stuck with Gattuso, though, as did Inter Milan with Spalletti.
Time might already be running out for the 59-year-old, though. The Nerazzurri have just four points from their opening four games of the season, with last weekend’s home defeat to Parma something of a nadir for the club under Spalleti. Inter Milan made progress last season, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time since 2011/12, but now they appear to be regressing.
Tuesday’s Champions League win over Spurs might have handed Spalletti something of a timely reprieve. Another home defeat could have spelled the end for the 59-year-old as manager of the Nerazzurri, particularly with Conte waiting in the wings. But how much time will that realistically grant the former Roma and St Petersburg boss at San Siro?
Inter boast one of the best squads in Italy, maybe even Europe. In the likes of Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic, Radja Nainggolan, Sime Vrsaljko and Milan Skriniar, among others, they boast a number of players capable of making a mark at the top of the sport. Spalletti cannot complain about a lack of quality and so recent results are nowhere near good enough.
A lack of cutting edge in front of goal has been a problem (Inter took 28 shots against Parma, the most made by a Serie A team without scoring since February 2012), as has a soft centre. When the tough gets going, Inter tend to crumble. What we witnessed on Tuesday night, when a 1-0 deficit was overturned against Spurs, was against the grain of what we have seen so far this season.
“I don’t see this as a soft team,” instead Spalletti after the defeat to Parma. “The guys are working in the right way with the attitude that you need. At times, perhaps we’re creating more confusion by trying to change the things that aren’t coming off.”
Whatever the reason for Inter Milan’s poor start to the season, they must come up with answers soon for the sake of their manager. Tuesday night’s win gives them a foothold, but in the long term Spalletti might never escape the shadow of Conte.