What is going on with Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti?

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 21 February 2018, 14:18

"We can consider the first part of the season to be 9/10," said Inter boss Luciano Spalletti in Wednesday morning’s edition of Corriere dello Sport.

“The second part is only 4/10, but my comments below are the same for both periods of time: I have given everything I’ve got every single day I’ve been here.”

The boss is right about how topsy-turvy this season has been for the Nerazzurri. Spalletti’s men had earned 23 points after just nine matches this season, twelve more than they had gained at the same point in 2016/17. They would rise to first place by round 15, even leading some to talk about a Scudetto win as they remained the last team in Serie A to be unbeaten.

However it soon was to become clear that their new boss had built a house upon sand as everything came crashing down. Even when they were winning, his side’s play was never truly convincing, as he struggled to integrate new signing Borja Valero into his 4-2-3-1 system and relied on the goals of deadly striker Mauro Icardi to fire the team to victory when not playing well. Over-reliance on late goals was a problem too, the Nerazzurri having scored seven goals from the 86th minute onwards by mid-January, more than any other team in the league.

Just ten rounds after they sat at the top of the table, Inter have slumped to outside the Champions League places in fifth position, taking just nine points and one win in that period. “I expected this to happen,” said former Inter defender Mauro Bellugi to Tuttomercatoweb.

“At the start of the season when everyone was praising the Nerazzurri, you just had to watch their games to see how they were getting these victories. Samir Handanovic was always the Man of the Match with ten decisive saves. In these cases, when you’re living on luck and it runs out, this is what happens.”

Indeed Spalletti hit a new low point away to Genoa on Saturday night, an awful performance from his men seeing the lowly Grifone romp to an all-too-straightforward 2-0 win. It would be easy to say that the only way would be up from there, however the problems displayed that night will not be easy to fix.

It was true that they were lacking their key striker in Icardi and talented winger Ivan Perisic, but the most worrying aspect was the mentality on show, players with their heads down and looking nervous as if it was not them who had enjoyed such a positive start to the season.

Spalletti was seen blasting Antonio Candreva and Daniele D’Ambrosio that night, who were arguing between themselves over defensive cover on the right wing. Attitude and discipline is something that is solely down to the man in charge, which begs the question of whether the current Coach is really up to the job at hand.

Bizarre press conferences and awkward answers to journalists when asked legitimate questions is nothing new for the boss, who followed a similar pattern at previous club Roma. His results in the capital swung from brilliant to disastrous at times and his tenure was blemished by an ongoing row about playing time for captain Francesco Totti in his final season at the club.

“Totti? When you accept responsibilities and make decisions, even if they’re the most unpopular ones, they’re always for the good of the team,” Spalletti continued in the aforementioned interview with Corriere dello Sport.“You always end up disappointing someone or losing their support, but I repeat: if I wronged, it was always for the good of Roma. My conscience is clear because I know I gave them my all, or maybe even beyond that.”

Spalletti has stressed this desire to have given his best in both his current situation and the previous one in Rome, however in terms of man-management skills and mentality it seems like his best just might not be good enough.

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