Inter’s fate in Serie A now seems sealed. The losses to Juventus and Lazio in the last few weeks has seen them drop off in the Scudetto race, leaving the Europa League as the only chance of silverware in the campaign – and if you believe Inter can lift the European trophy they are priced at 4/1 with many online bookmakers. Use this promo code to take advantage of the best offers. The club isn’t a stranger to falling off in the business end of the campaign, but this season’s downfall has been down to Antonio Conte.
Conte has always been known to be a pragmatic manager. His usage of the 3-5-2 this season has brought the best out of many players, including Lautaro Martinez, Romelu Lukaku, Stefan De Vrij, Stefano Sensi and many others. The former Juve boss had identified one problem in the side early on, blaming some losses to the lack of depth in the team.
After the 3-2 defeat to Borussia Dortmund, Conte told Sportmediaset:
“We have too limited a squad to face both Serie A and Champions League football this season. I mean limited both in terms of numbers and quality.
“Some players have to be on the field constantly and in the long run, you do pay for that. I am furious, because this cancels out all the good work.”
That was certainly true. Sensi’s constant injury issues left Inter without a creator. Nicolo Barella had also faced a knee injury around the same time, forcing Conte to use Borja Valero regularly and play Matias Vecino. This lack of depth in the side was addressed in the winter transfer window.
The club signed Christian Eriksen from Spurs, bringing in Ashley Young and Victor Moses to add depth in the wing-back areas. They couldn’t sign a target-man, despite being linked with Fernando Llorente and Olivier Giroud.
Despite all that, the team has fallen off a cliff. The nerazzurri have led 22 times in Serie A this season, winning only 16 times. They found themselves in the lead against the likes of Lecce, Cagliari, Fiorentina and against Lazio themselves. But they sat off games after going a goal up, allowing the opposition into games.
Early signs were seen against Barcelona and Dortmund in the Champions League. They went 1-0 up against the Catalans but Conte’s substitutions came very late. They were 2-0 up against Dortmund as well. But slipped up in the second half, letting in three goals. Conte had again failed to make the right chances at the right time. The attacking changes had to wait for far too long.
They nearly conceded a comeback to Sassuolo early in the season. At 4-1, they sat off. Roberto De Zerbi made the Jeremie Boga change and he was crucial to making it 4-3 in the end. It was a danger sign, as Sassuolo’s Boga change was in contrast to how Conte’s changes have been.
Conte has taken stick for it. The lack of a proper target-man has let them down too. But that doesn’t really explain a lack of proper substitutions at the right time. It has been a case of him being over-pragmatic and not being flexible enough when the time has come.
There is every chance that more options in the next season can change that. Christian Eriksen has been slow to adapt to the new league and that has been a problem. They sometimes lack that one player who can stay up front and be the target for long-balls. Diego Godin has been disappointing, failing to adjust to a 3-5-2 system
Things will of course, but Conte has to take the blame for the downfall. There is every chance he doesn’t and blames it on the board- like he did after Dortmund.