Luciano Spalletti faces a huge two weeks at Inter Milanby Chloe Beresford / 11 October 2017, 14:20Tweet
Luciano Spalletti took former side Roma to a record-breaking 87 points and a second-place Serie A finish last term, but their fans would argue that the time was right for him to move on to Inter this summer.
His tenure was tainted by an ongoing dispute over how many minutes he should have fielded captain Francesco Totti during his last ever season, something the Coach himself acknowledged upon his departure from the capital.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t unite the environment at Roma,” the Tuscan boss told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“Everything I tried to do was for the good of Roma and the balance of the team. Francesco is a unique phenomenon, and with him everything becomes amplified. I wish him the best, also as a director, but as a footballer all that love didn’t always help. Totti is Roma, it’s true, but Roma is also Roma.”
A fresh start away from the tension was just what Spalletti needed, but sure enough, fate would decide that he would return to the Stadio Olimpico with his new Nerazzurri side in week two. After beating Fiorentina 3-0 in the opening fixture, the Coach would be triumphant against his former side, despite a poor performance and some bad luck for the Giallorossi.
New boss Eusebio Di Francesco would see his new team hit the woodwork on three separate occasions and dominate the play, only to lose 3-1 thanks to some deadly finishing from two-goal Mauro Icardi. Indeed the first seven matches have seen Spalletti’s side take 19 points from the opening seven rounds to draw level with Juventus before the international break.
Talk of a first title since 2010 under Jose Mourinho unsurprisingly emerged, but a closer inspection of the fixture list reveals that we are about to find out just how good Spalletti and Inter really are.
Since that win over Roma, the Nerazzurri have faced SPAL, Crotone, Bologna, Genoa and Benevento, all sides that will be battling in the bottom half come the end of the season. Although the team is winning, performances haven’t seen particularly convincing and a huge two-week period is looming. This weekend will see Spalletti face Vincenzo Montella in the Milan derby, and his side will then travel to Napoli in the following round.
There are legitimate question marks over how the Coach can fit midfielders Borja Valero, Matias Vecino, Joao Mario and Marcelo Brozovic into his 4-2-3-1 system, and - after losing out of Patrik Schick to Roma this summer - Inter are also desperately short of a backup to Mauro Icardi. Not playing well and relying on Mauro Icardi to fire the side in front has worked so far, but may not be so successful against better sides.
Despite these doubts, Spalletti remains defiant about the quality in his squad, determined to prove everyone wrong. “We expected a different transfer market it’s true,” the boss confessed in an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We’re starting 29 points down on Juve, 25 on Roma and 24 on Napoli, so we need seven or eight more wins in the league [than last season]. Everyone has to improve but I have a perfect squad, and we’ll show you. We signed people who fit the bill.”
So now it’s time for the boss to put his money where his mouth is and prove that his squad and his tactics are the right ones to take his team forward and there’s no better time to do this than against derby rivals Milan and top of the league Napoli. We are about to find out just what Inter - and Luciano Spalletti - are made of.