26th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.
Prior to the 2016/2017 season, Inter Milan were full of optimism for what loomed as a successful campaign ahead.
Having spent over €150 million acquiring some genuinely exceptional players in the summer, including Antonio Candreva, Joao Mario, Miranda, Ever Banega, Marcelo Brozovic and Gabriel Barbosa, expectations were indeed predictably high. But the Nerazzurri unfortunately fell well short, enduring a largely forgettable season that was littered with disappointment.
The writing was on the wall early as the club sacked manager Roberto Mancini two weeks before the season began and entrusted former Ajax manager, Frank de Boer, with the arduous task of recovering the situation. Even though the Dutchman masterminded a dogged win over Juventus, he was sacked just 85 days into his tenure. He just couldn't get the team moving in the same direction and the lows definitely outweighed the highs. Losing seven of his 14 matches in charge, including a disastrous loss to Hapoel Beer Sheva in the Europa League, the club felt obliged to act in the hope of turning the season around.
Then came in Stefano Pioli, and things improved drastically, with him uniting the squad and able to get them back to winning ways, while notably making them a very tough side to defeat. A brilliant run from October to March saw Inter win 14 matches and got the fans dreaming of European qualification. New €27 million January signing from Atalanta, Roberto Gagliardini, impressed upon his arrival, as the likes Mauro Icardi, Candreva, Mario and Ivan Perisic were all playing promisingly too.
In running with the early stages of the crusade, however, the wheels eventually fell off for Pioli too, as he was also sacked. After overseeing a frustrating run of results, where the club only picked up two points in eight matches and lost five of Pioli's last six matches, the club yet again showed their willingness to act swiftly. Stefano Vecchi took over as caretaker until end the season, steering the club to an uninspiring seventh place finish in Serie A.
Determined to put in a much improved effort in 2017/18, the Chinese owned outfit has smartly appointed Luciano Spalletti, who'd just enjoyed a brilliant term with Roma by steering them to an impressive second place league finish. Morever, Spalletti's achievement of leading the Giallorossi to their highest points total in history, and the fact he leaves the club with the most points per game ratio of any Roma manager, means he arrives knowing what it takes to get near the Serie A summit.
A familiar friend of Spalletti's from Roma in the form of Walter Sabatini has also been brought in by the Suning group, who own Chinese Super League team Jiangsu Suning and Inter, as the technical dircector of both clubs to help oversee business and transfer dealings.
Reports so far are suggesting Inter are interested in signing some quality players such as Borja Valero, Nikola Kalinic, Wojciech Szczesny, Milan Skriniar, Joao Cancelo and Lucas Moura, who'd undoubtedly inject plenty of class and give Spalletti vital squad depth. Nerrazurri sporting director, Piero Ausilio, has also flown to Spain to enquire about the availability of Barcelona duo Andres Iniesta and Aleix Vidal.
Whatever the case, Spalletti will be hoping as many signings as possible can be completed before the season kicks off so he can assess what he has at his disposal and set his team up accordingly. It'll definitely be fascinating to observe how the tactically sophisticated Spalletti will deploy his men, for at Roma the flexible coach used many different formations including 3-4-2-1, 3-4-3, 3-5-2, 4-3-3 and 4-2-3-1.
Although the Italian faces a colossal challenge to turnaround the fortunes of one of European football's traditional powerhouses, hiring the experienced Spalletti is a terrific, bold statement of intent from Inter's ambitious owners.
"I have feelings and will try with all my strength to transfer my working method and my convictions to the team. That's to Inter as a team, not as individuals," asserted Spalletti.
"Because these players have a lot of quality, but then everyone thinks they've done their bit and that doesn't work as a collective. Anyone who works with me must feel totally convinced. Those who play here must feel they are Inter, not just a player who is at Inter. Otherwise there's no point talking about a sense of belonging."
After a woeful 2016/2017 term, installing Spalletti, who's adamant on moulding his team into a cohesive, determined and defiant collective unit, there's every chance Inter will be able to get back on the right track again to restore some confidence and success to the recently fallen giant of Italian football.
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Can Luciano Spalletti Restore Success at Inter Milan?
26th June 2017. By Edward Stratmann.