Out with the old and in with the new as stark changes made on the pitch and on the bench at Inter Milan
It's been a summer of change at Inter. The blue side of Milan erupted in jubilant scenes of celebration back in May as Juventus' nine year stranglehold on the Scudetto was ended and Antonio Conte shepherded the club back to the top of the tree for the first time since Jose Mourinho's title winning campaign in 2010. Romelu Lukaku had been an irresistible force all season and seemed happier than ever to be living and playing in Milan. Inter had a world class manager and a fantastic team capable of going on to win many more trophies in the years to come. That still may be the case but by August the picture looked quite different. Chinese owners Suning Holdings Group, feeling the effects of the pandemic, had put a cost cutting plan in place and its impact was being felt with full force. Calls for once celebrated club president Steven Zhang to step down flooded both the online and offline space as Antonio Conte left the club, and Achraf Hakimi, among others, was sold. Most distressing of all was the departure of their talisman, Romelu Lukaku, as the Belgian returned to Chelsea just days after both he and new coach Simone Inzaghi had assured fans nothing of the sort would be happening.
However, it's not all doom and gloom at the San Siro. Inter may be in a spot of bother financially and they may have lost some key players, but the club did do some smart business in the summer and new coach Inzaghi could enjoy some success this season. Denzel Dumfries was brought in for £11m from PSV after impressing at Euro 2020, Hakan Calhanoglu was lured across city lines from AC Milan on a free transfer and striker Edin Dzeko arrived from Roma. While the likes of Hakimi and Lukaku are not easy to replace, Dumfries and Dzeko are not huge downgrades. The former is young, full of energy and could well blossom this season. Dzeko may not be a long term fix but for a couple of seasons he can surely be relied on. The Bosnian has a respectable goal record from his time at Man City, where he won two Premier League titles, and at Roma, where he proved that he can offer much more than only goals at the top of the pitch.
Inter have won four and drawn two so far this season in Serie A and sit third in the table, four points behind leaders Napoli who are one of the only sides left in Europe to maintain a 100% record so far. Upon the announcement that Massimiliano Allegri would be returning to Juventus, many expected The Old Lady to be firing on all cylinders and challenging at the top of the table. It's early days but things haven't quite panned out that way thus far and it looks more likely that Inter will be battling it out with their city rivals AC Milan and Napoli for the Scudetto. The Turin club's dreadful start to the season will definitely be a welcome sight on both sides of Milan. Results in the Champions League haven't been fantastic, a 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid at home and a 0-0 stalemate away in Donetsk, but they will still be expected to finish second in that group.
On the whole, it's certainly a period of transition for Inter. They've lost some top quality players players. The remaining players and new arrivals have a new leader to whose methods they will need to become accustomed quickly. On top of that, matters off the pitch are anything but stable. Despite all that, there is reason for optimism for the Nerazzurri and we wanted to see if we could find some. We were fortunate enough to get the insight of Nima Tavallaey Roodsari, founder and Chief News Editor of SempreInter.com, on how the team is shaping up in the early stages of the season and what fans could expect from this campaign.
Q. How did fans react to the departure of star striker Romelu Lukaku and the wonderful Achraf Hakimi?
Nima: The reaction was very negative as expected as those were the two best players, together with Nicolo Barella and Marcelo Brozovic, during Inter’s record breaking Scudetto run.
Q. What's been the feeling around the incomings this summer? (Dzeko, Calhanoglu, Dumfries, etc)
Nima: Dzeko was met with skepticism which has pretty much been silenced given his fantastic start at Inter, although he does still squander far too many chances. Dumfries and Dimarco have quickly become not quite fan favorites but there's éxcitement around them, largely due to the promising performances, as well as their young age. Calhanoglu’s been very inconsistent so far but the feeling is he’ll improve the more time goes on and the more he gels with the team. Correa had a dream debut scoring a brace but since then he’s not played that much due to being injured or bot been fit enough to play 90 minutes.
Q. How would you describe the current relationship between the fan base and the ownership? Is it getting better or worse?
Nima: It’s never been at a lower point than it is right now. It’s quite clear that Suning’s ownership of Inter is unsustainable and that’s a shame as they have done much good at Inter.
Q. Many thought Juventus would be back to their best with the return of Allegri but they are already ten points off the top spot. Assuming Inter are in the title race come next Spring, who do you think they will be fighting it out with this season?
Nima: You can never really write off Juventus in Serie A but I honestly think there’s too many question marks surrounding Juve for them to be contenders this season. The main Scudetto candidates are Inter, Milan and Napoli.
Q. How good a job is Simone Inzaghi doing so far, in your eyes? How has he set the team up tactically and how much has the approach differed to the Conte side?
Nima: They play a similar formation but their styles are completely different. Inzaghi plays a much more direct approach and a much more horizontal one, allowing more creative freedom to his players, whilst Conte’s football, his vertical football, followed his blueprint to the letter. Conte’s brilliance was getting his players to understand exactly what he wanted them to do in every situation and they actually doing it. In my humble opinion, Conte’s Inter played the best football I’ve seen any Inter side play in my lifetime. When his football works it’s an unstoppable goalscoring machine that is defensively almost unbreakable.
Simone Inzaghi has done a very good job in very difficult circumstances so far. Some may have been surprised by this, but I’m not one of them as I’ve been on the record since 2017 saying that in my opinion Simone Inzaghi is the next Italian supercoach after Max Allegri and Antonio Conte.
Q. What are your expectations for this season? What would represent success, given everything that's happened in recent months, including the highs and the lows?
Nima: I expect Inter to win the Serie A, qualify from their group in the Champions League, get to the final of the Coppa Italia and lastly and least importantly win the Supercoppa.
Next up for Inter is a trip to mid table Sassuolo this Saturday. After back-to-back draws fans will be hoping for an emphatic win. We will have to wait and see if the players can adapt quickly to Inzaghi's style and do some good things this season domestically and in Europe.
You can follow Inter's journey by watching all their matches via live streaming with Bet 365. Simply sign up or login, click on the video icon next to the fixture of your choice and start streaming. Terms and conditions apply.
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