Is Luciano Spalletti Holding Inter Back?

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 06 December 2018, 12:22

As AS Roma fought back from 2-1 down to secure a 2-2 at home to Inter on Sunday, it was one of the most entertaining matches of the Serie A season so far. After Keita Balde’s opener, the Giallorossi levelled the scores thanks to a stunning second-half strike from Cengiz Under, yet their joy was short-lived as Mauro Icardi put the visitors ahead just 15 minutes later.

Former Manchester City man Aleksandar Kolarov scored the equaliser thanks to a penalty on 73 minutes after a failure to consult VAR had denied them a previous spot-kick earlier in the match. A frenetic final quarter of an hour saw Coach Luciano Spalletti sent off for dissent, and it wasn’t to be his last controversial incident of the evening either.

Francesco Totti’s final season in the capital was somewhat marred by rumours of a rift between himself and then-boss Spalletti, an ugly dispute that saw the former Captain in no mood to greet his former boss last weekend. Now a director at Roma, the Giallorossi legend was talking to reporters when it became clear that Spalletti was on his way to the media centre.

“In that case, Goodnight,” Totti smiled as he simply walked away and left the room.

It was a dignified way to make his feelings clear but – just as had occurred in the final minutes of the match – his rival couldn’t restrain himself from speaking out. “You all in the media have to stop saying these two falsehoods, which are that I made Totti retire or that I sent him away from the Trigoria training centre. Neither of those are true,” declared Spalletti to reporters.

“The club knew a full season beforehand that Totti was going to retire that year, I added nothing to the conversation. As for the time I supposedly sent him away, I simply called him in before the team meeting, accompanied by various staff members, and told him he would not be on the bench in that game.”

To carry on speaking was to revive a pantomime that should have been left in the past, but the boss’ comments are part of a worrying trend that his actions are at odds with a club who are trying to regain their status as a major power at home and abroad.

New Inter Milan President Steven Zhang heads up an attempt from owners Suning to rival Italian powerhouse Juventus, but it has to be said that the Coach’s actions are holding them back. It is a club that are doing all the right things off the field, but antics such as these can only ever serve to distract from the progress that is being made.

As last summer approached, Spalletti argued that he needed a better squad, but that was rectified by a string of excellent signings during the subsequent transfer window. With the new players on board, the boss has achieved some good results this term, taking his team up to third in the table.

Yet he is still plagued by consistent inconsistency, an absolute hammering dished out by Atalanta four matches ago a good example of this as a 4-1 scoreline could have been so much more.

Then, Inter only needed a point to secure qualification to the Champions League knockout stages versus Tottenham at Wembley, but Spalletti would get his approach all wrong. In setting up his side to play for a draw, the Coach allowed Spurs to take advantage of the negative tactics, and an 80th minute Christian Eriksen strike meant the Serie A side missed their chance to knock their English opponents out.

On paper, the Nerazzurri are doing very well and look set to have made progress from last season by the end of the campaign.

However, the question still remains if this is enough for a club such as Inter, and whether Luciano Spalletti – controversial and inconsistent as he is – will ever be the man to truly push them to the heights they wish to reach.

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