Antonio Conte’s appointment ensures two things that never disappear: intensity and drama.
The former coach of Italy, Juventus and Chelsea is often an obsessed man on the sidelines. He quits for nothing and it comes as no surprise that his resume is riddled with league titles and domestic cups.
But divorces are often bitter and fraught when the 50-year-old is involved – just ask Chelsea – and although he only joined last summer, Inter fans wondered if his next one is much closer than some had assumed weeks ago.
Antonio Conte’s season had a promising start, but has become bitterly frustrating for everyone
The 50-year-old (right) was another animated figure against Hellas Verona on Thursday
Romelu Lukaku was acquired for £ 73 million when Conte built a side ready to dethrone Juventus
But after being at the top in January, the title talk is over with a 10-point lead with Inter in fourth place
“I don’t want to say too much, because people like to say that I always have criticism, criticism or criticism. I don’t, I just want to help everyone improve and move forward, “he said Sky Sports Italia in the wake of Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona.
“The media love to tear me to pieces, they have fun. At the end of the season I will make my considerations, just like the club and the players. If I have anything to say, I’ll tell the club.
“We all want to win, but it’s about understanding how close or far we are to win. Some somehow see it. ‘
So, Conte makes his considerations 12 months later. But how did it get there? Inter was in the title fight at the beginning of the year and was one of the favorites for the Coppa Italia.
When Conte arrived last May, the club was full of praise for him. With Juventus expected to be weaker than ever before and Massimiliano Allegri moving on, the Milanese club felt a real opportunity. Described as ‘one of the best coaches in the world’ in Conte, they felt they had the key to success.
“I am sure he will help us reach our goal and fulfill our mission,” said Inter-President Steven Zhang.
“One that has always remained the same: to make this club one of the best in the world again.”
His reign started perfectly with six wins from the first six games of the Serie A campaign
Inter fired on all cylinders with so many new pieces and was hailed as a title favorite
Conte wasted no time in bluntly telling his bosses that the squad he inherited was nowhere near good enough to knock Juventus off the throne and prevent them from winning a ninth consecutive title.
The message was clear: take out the checkbook. And when it came to supporting their new coach, the owners delivered. Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez of Manchester United came in for £ 73m. Valentino Lazaro entered the lines. Matteo Politano, Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella entered.
Diego Godin was added for free and Mauro Icardi was loaned to Paris Saint-Germain; that became a regular deal this summer.
Ashley Young and Victor Moses continued the rebuild in January, while Christian Eriksen, who was able to join a free come this summer, was bought out of the rest of his Tottenham deal at Conte’s request.
Compared to their 1-0 Europa League home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in March, while Luciano Spalletti was still in charge, only five of those starting XI survived for Conte’s season opener against Lecce in August.
Samir Handanovic, Antonio Candreva, Danilo D’Ambrosio, Milan Skriniar and Matias Vecino were spared. Fast forward to Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona and only three – Handanovic, Candreva and Skriniar – of those have held on as part of Conte’s revolution.
But Juventus came to the San Siro and delivered a dose of reality when Inter suffered a first loss
That was a turning point and despite rallies in games that followed, the mood felt different
This duration-mounted side flew out of the blocks and got maximum points from their first six games. Thirteen goals and two against. The huge expenses for Conte suddenly looked cheap; Inter looked legitimate for the title.
Then they ran into serial winners Juventus. Even under Maurizio Sarri, who has yet to win a major trophy in Italy, the squad is full of players who know how to get it done.
Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain’s goals were decisive in a 2-1 victory in the San Siro and for the first time in the season, Conte’s men seemed to have a gap in their arsenal.
They won six of their next seven league games, but it was almost as if that defeat to their biggest rivals was nagging. Four draws out of the next six were paralyzing.
And unlike the beginning of the season, those doubts started to show up much more often until Juventus took the side of Conte again, this time behind closed doors in Turin just before the closing of the corona virus, title talk for the season .
A Coppa Italia exit and a Champions League group stage exit contributed little to the team’s morale
Juventus looked weakest in recent years, but now took the title race
The gap between the sides at that stage was nine points, and Conte was a ball of angry energy on the sidelines. The atmosphere in Milan was that he was too loud for his players with so many new pieces to integrate.
Three wins, two draws and one loss since football returned is fine – but not when the Serie A title is the target. Conte knew that Juventus – even the current incarnation – gave up few chances of being overtaken, and Inter is solely to blame.
To put it bluntly, Inter has lost a staggering 20 points this season from leading positions in Serie A. Had they taken 50 percent of it, they would now be at the top with Juventus.
After a cover loss to Bologna in the San Siro recently, Conte snapped his players locked up in the locker room to investigate what happened.
Their title bid evaporated behind closed doors in March, but they now moved to fourth place after being overtaken by a free-scoring Atalanta.
Conte said after that 2-1 loss: ‘I was brought here for a winning project and to bring Inter back to winning things.
Christian Eriksen arrived from Tottenham in January, but Conte is still looking for him
A 2-2 draw with Hellas Verona summed up this team’s inability to end games prematurely
Obviously, victory doesn’t come overnight, but many situations leave a lot of bitterness behind. You think you are on a level and instead you are on a much lower level. ‘
While Conte and Inter are expected to stay together for at least another season, stranger things have happened when Conte loses full confidence in this squad than running away at everything he has built.
After starting with so much promise, a trophy-free season for this expensive group is a serious failure that even the most optimistic fan cannot hold.