Tribal Football

Simone Inzaghi: How he stared down his critics and built one of Inter Milan's greatest teams

Simone Inzaghi: How he stared down his critics and built one of Inter Milan's greatest teams
Simone Inzaghi: How he stared down his critics and built one of Inter Milan's greatest teams
Simone Inzaghi: How he stared down his critics and built one of Inter Milan's greatest teamsAction Plus
And now what will those who wanted Simone Inzaghi fired say? And those who said he was not good enough, that he did not have the right experience and the right qualities to win the Scudetto, what about them?

In Italy this year there was no competition, it was a one-sided affair, for those who were not Inter supporters Serie A was even boring at times, because no one seemed to be able to not only beat Inter, but also not even to challenge it. It was absolute domination, a show of strength with few precedents, not so much for the points gained at the end of the year, but for the constant feeling that there was no hope for the pursuers, like Juventus in February. 


Simone Inzaghi started this season with a lot of doubts over him, it always seemed that nothing but a misstep on his part was expected to weigh him down with more blame than he really had, at the smallest negative result a chorus of murmurs and rumors would rise that was then regularly swept away with a victory and a great performance.

Lautaro and his teammates for the season  scored 89 goals (counting Serie A alone) and conceded 22: these are mind-boggling figures. The second team to have scored more was AC Milan, which, however, struck 13 less, this is to give an idea of the gap the Nerazzurri have created between themselves and the other teams in the league: 19 points of distance between the first and second teams in the standings, in fact 7 more wins. The numbers are overwhelming and leave no room for interpretation or imagination, but at the beginning of the season these were not the expectations.

In fact, quite the opposite. At the beginning of the year, something was expected from Inzaghi and his boys, yes, perhaps a head-to-head until the end with Max Allegri's Juventus and Stefano Pioli's Milan, because the transfer market deals had been interesting, yes, but nothing extraordinary that would let one imagine of absolute domination. 

In the first few days of the championship there were the first clear signs of the Nerazzurri's overwhelming power: 2-0 to Monza, 0-2 to Cagliari, 4-0 to Fiorentina and 5-1 to Milan, 4 crushing victories against teams that were not at all easy to beat, especially the 9 goals scored to Fiorentina and Milan in a few days were an unequivocal signal sent to all competitors "we want to win Serie A". And that is exactly how things turned out. The weeks during which Inzaghi and his men got their hands on the Scudetto (while also winning another trophy: the Super Cup) were January 22 to February 10.

Inter beat Napoli 1-0 to win the trophy, then 0-1 Fiorentina, then defeated Juventus 1-0 to win the match that could have reopened the championship should the Bianconeri have won (it wasn’t even a challenge), but instead they lost and were forced to surrender to the greater quality of their opponents. A few days later Inter also won in Rome, managing to defeat Daniele De Rossi's Roma with a bit of luck. In the space of two weeks, Inter essentially sealed the Scudetto talk with three months to spare. An extraordinary achievement that Simone Inzaghi will be able to boast about for a long time.

What's more, they dominated Serie A so much that they started thinking about which players to buy for the following season with months to spare: Mehdi Taremi and Piotr Zielinski will reinforce the ranks under Inzaghi's orders, while waiting to see which player will be sold, adding quality and goals to an almost already perfect team. These two deals have been organized in January: what does this say about their season?

What is Inter's room for improvement? It is not easy to say. A season like this will be difficult to repeat, this was demonstrated by Napoli, when with Luciano Spalletti they dominated the championship and the following year had a dismal and anonymous year. Inzaghi is a serious, prepared coach, he will not underestimate any risk and will try to build the best Inter possible.

Last summer the Nerazzurri bought Davide Frattesi (who played little last year, is a protagonist of Spalletti's Italy and apparently is rather impatient with the little space he found with the Inter jersey...), Marcus Thuram (who at the end of the year took revenge on a journalist who had underestimated his talent and possible impact), Benjamin Pavard (an underestimated purchase), Carlos Augusto, Yann Sommer (one of the heroes of the Scudetto), the discovery Bisseck and other players. Apart from Pavard no "big name" was chosen yet the results came.

One of the tactical keys was the use of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whom Jose Mourinho had relaunched in the role of central midfielder and who in Inter's midfield found his ideal dimension: Inzaghi gave him another youth, a star season at 35 years of age, not something that happens every day. Next year there will also be Zielinski in that role, so the future of Frattesi remains to be understood, but in Italy it has always been said "matches are won in midfield," and in that role Inter has without a doubt the strongest department in the league.

The scoring was done by the Lautaro-Thuram pair, especially the Argentine, the team's captain and symbol, who is close to a contract renewal that will keep him in Milan throughout the final part of his career. 

This year, Inter "chose" (or so it seemed) to focus on domestic competitions and leave international ones in the background, a choice perhaps bitter to accept for the fans, but one that at the end of the year produced a celebration of several days. For the 20th Scudetto, the second star will appear on the Nerazzurri's coat of arms, one of the goals of Inter fans, especially since they managed to beat Milan, which is stuck at 19 titles. 

It was a complete triumph that will forever remain in history and will always bear the face of Simone Inzaghi, a coach who arrived amidst the doubts of many, often too much criticized and underestimated, but who managed to bring the Scudetto back to Milan and, above all, to entertain the fans thanks to beautiful matches full of goals and emotions.

Inter fans will hardly forget this season and the credit is due to Inzaghi, nicknamed the "Demon of Piacenza" by all his supporters. Bravo coach!