Has Simone Inzaghi Bought Himself More Time At Inter?
Written By Jacobs Dunga
On June 3 2021, Simone Inzaghi was announced as the new Inter Milan coach following the departure of Antonio Conte by mutual consen. The Italian manager had left his role at SS Lazio to take up the vacant position at Inter which was his first big coaching job.
His appointment came at a period of financial imbalance as the club was still fresh from recovering the losses caused by the pandemic that struck the football world with hundreds of millions lost in stadium revenues.
During his first press conference which was alongside club CEO Beppe Marotta, the administrator said the goal was to keep a competitive squad capable of defending the title won in the previous campaign.
Inzaghi pointed out that the Inter project attracted him to the club thanks to the directors especially Marotta who presented him with an offer he couldn’t refuse while also letting him into the longterm plans.
Inzaghi was explicit when he said Inter were determined to continue from the previous season and go all out to defend the title as well as make progress in the Champions League where Inter had failed to go past the group phase in each of the three seasons before his arrival. He went further to say the club is “International” and as such should be aiming to compete at the biggest stage in Europe. At the time of the briefing, Achraf Hakimi had already been sold to PSG to cover up for capital gains.
The 46 year old anticipated the return of Scudetto inspiring Romelu Lukaku from the Euros as well as Christian Eriksen who suffered a cardiac arrest during the tournament. However, his expectations were dashed as both players departed the club before the end of the transfer window. Lukaku secured a shock move back to England with Chelsea while Christian Eriksen could not return to the club due to the his state of health. Edin Dzeko and Hakan Calhanoglu were brought in as replacements while Denzel Dumfries arrived as Hakimi’s replacement.
The Piacenza native stated clearly at his unveiling that he’s respected the Inter team of the last couple of years for being a strong and compact team that’s difficult to score even a goal against but did outline that his philosophy is to play an entertaining brand of football that includes scoring a lot of goals which is exactly what he hoped to implement at Inter.
Has Simone Already Delivered At Inter?
The simple answer is yes. The question surrounding whether the coach should be relieved of his duties owing to some unfavourable results and inconsistency in the team’s game play should not be considered without the general assessment of his time at the club thus far.
Inzaghi may not be the best in game manager or the most flexible of coaches. He may probably not be proactive enough or command the same respect as his peers. His team may not be known for their compactness nor sheer discipline. However, one thing that’s been established since he took over the reins is that he has met every single expectation and fulfilled all the obligations outlined in his first press conference.
Inzaghi has carefully mastered his way into achieving his goals despite the upsetting environment he’s had to work in at Inter. The financial struggles of the team saw a Scudetto winning squad trimmed down qualitatively. Despite the obvious drop in quality, Inzaghi went on to defend the title until the last- couple of weeks. The title loss could be excused for having Marcelo Brozovic – a key member of the team – out injured for the most important part of the title run in. On the positive, he did deliver as said on the attacking front where the team scored 84 goals, more than any other side in the league. He also ended the season with the Supercoppa and Coppa Italia trophies beating Juventus in both finals. A second round aggregate loss to Liverpool in the Champions League in which he won at Anfield was already a better achievement than Antonii Conte’s two years at the helm.
This season, Inter under Inzaghi have already surpassed their UCL achievement from last season by reaching the last eight of the premier club competition, a feat which was last achieved by the club in 2012 while Leonardo was in charge as mentioned by Simone himself during his first press briefing. We can say he’s fulfilled another of his promises already. He has already defended his Supercoppa trophy in style by dismantling city rivals AC Milan in Saudi Arabia.
With the Supercoppa in the bag, a quarter final place in the Champions League and the semi final of the Coppa Italia waiting, Inzaghi’s second season can easily be termed as successful as much as his first was.
Should Inzaghi Be Doing Better?
Inzaghi may have kept to most of his words by finishing close second behind AC Milan where he fought until the last weeks and also showing strength in cup competitions. However, his capability in handling a club as big as Inter has come into question more often than not especially in the league.
In the current season, Inter have already lost eight out of the 26 games played, thus twice as much as they did in 38 games last season. The team’s points per game dropped from 2.2 the previous season to 1.92 this term. Inzaghi has also failed to find a lasting solution to Inter’s pregnable defence which has shipped in 1.03 goals per match this season. That’s one of the worst defensive records in the league.
The inconsistency and lack of identity that has trailed Inzaghi’s team is becoming alarming especially in the league where the fans are eagerly anticipating a second star. The club has gone from spotless performances against lower placed teams in 2021/2022 to the Robin Hood of the league in 2022/2023 where they take points off the big guns only to surrender them to the less fancied teams.
His mentality as Inter coach can be rightly challenged in that he’s quick to point at the club’s struggles post treble era in favour of his “average” success at the club.
“In the last twelve years, Inter have won one Scudetto, which then caused some financial problems for the team,” he said when asked to comment on his critics after reaching the Champions League last eight.
“In the last eighteen months we’ve won three trophies, the Coppa Italia once and the Supercoppa Italiana twice,”
“I’ll speak when I feel the time is right, I owe it to myself and my family.”
“We’ve managed something historic that this team hasn’t done for some time, and we did it against strong opposition who have caused us no shortage of problems,”
Similar words can be traced back to the interview after the Supercoppa win in Saudi Arabia. His sentiments can be forgiven knowing Inter are his first big job but it is high time the manager himself knew that the club is bigger than any of his personal achievements and whilst understanding the expectations of the fans.
In game management, tactical flexibility, team discipline, interviews and squad rotation are some of the areas where Inzaghi obviously needs to up his game.
Whether the 46 year old will still be in charge of Inter come the start of next season depends on how the current season concludes as there’s still a lot to play for.
Should be noted that Simone Inzaghi has reached most of his goals as said when he assumed the role. Conversely, Inter are a big club who deserve more than just domestic cups. As such, Simone would have to prove beyond his strength that he can be better and also capable of reaching the highest possible level.
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