The moment the calendar changes to a new year, Inter suddenly starts struggling. In some years, this sequence has started from the last 1 or 2 months of the previous year. It is a mystery and an unexplained enigma on why Inter transforms from a lion to a cat seasonally.
Inter has been through a succession of managers since the Treble-winning season. Only once did Inter win a trophy and that was in the 2010-11 season. Ironically, that was the only season where Inter had a better second half to a season.
Last season, Luciano Spalletti arrested the slump in time to qualify for the Champions League. That was an exception to the free fall the preceding managers experienced. It is so predictable but mystifying at the same time that nobody seems to anticipate it.
It is not right that Inter goes through this period of free fall where they can’t win a match to save their lives. There is always this period in the season where the players play without confidence, under immense pressure, and in self-doubt. It is the opposite of how the players played in the first half of the season.
After the experience of one season, Spalletti must have the experience and knowledge on how to deal with this slump. At the moment, Inter is comfortable in 3rd position in Serie A. Their position in Serie A is down to results gained in the first half of the season and the teams behind them faltering. At the moment, Inter is not getting punished for the poor run of results in Serie A.
In better form, with better results, Inter should be getting closer to Napoli in the 2nd position. Instead, they are stuck in 3rd. After their elimination from the Champions League group stage, Inter’s objectives shifted to winning a silverware either in the Coppa Italia or Europa League. After Thursday’s Coppa Italia elimination, Inter has only got the Europa League to try and win.
The January transfer window has not aided the team. There have been reports of dissatisfied players. Ivan Perisic has publicly put in a transfer request. No offer came through from any club for him and he stays on. Miranda was another that was linked with a transfer and stayed on. Inter signed only one player, Cedric Soares to replace the long term casualty Sime Vrsaljko.
In the previous transfer window, the loan signing of Rafinha proved pivotal as it gave the Inter team a different dimension in attack. There was also the resurgence of Marcelo Brozovic in central midfield and emergence of Joao Cancelo to aid Inter.
The signing of Radja Nainggolan in the summer has not had its desired effect. He has been troubled by injuries and discipline issues. I have never felt he had the characteristics to be a playmaker. It worked for him at Roma in an unorthodox manner but it has not here.
Inter’s Croatian duo of Brozovic and Ivan Perisic has not looked at their best after their World Cup exertions. Brozovic looks like he has been reset to his old self. We hope that Perisic can put behind the disappointment of not getting a transfer and provide a spark to the team. There is more to come from Keita Balde Diao but he is currently injured. Perhaps when he returns, he can provide the spark to the team.
Inter is desperately looking for someone to lead them out of this slump. They need someone to drag them by the scruff of the neck and someone to provide a spark to this team. There are players in the team with the quality but perhaps not enough leaders. It just seems like there is a bit of dissatisfaction behind the scenes that need to be sorted as well.
I wished Inter would have signed a playmaker during the transfer window to breathe some new life into the team but it never looked like they were looking to sign anyone. Spalletti has his work cut out to get Inter back on track again and hopefully win the Europa League.
There are calls to sack Spalletti but I feel it is too soon and he doesn’t warrant it. The results could have been better and he should have anticipated this now usual slump. However, since his appointment, he has got Inter to play better and rejuvenated players. I am not sure if he is going to be the manager to lead Inter to past glories. I feel that he could set Inter up for glory in the future.