The past weekend provided plenty of quality games, but some teams have come out better than others.
The president of Inter Milan, Steven Zhang, underlined the highs that Inter Milan reached last season despite being runners-up in the Europa League and finishing second in Serie A.
Antonio Conte’s frequent bursts at the club hierarchy last year for not safeguarding the players against a hectic European schedule was somewhat eased by a dominant set of results in the latter half of last season. However, it’s no surprise that finishing second in two events, without a piece of silverware during the season has only angered Conte.
While little was expected of Conte’s men last year in the Champions League, finishing second to Sevilla in the Europa League final gave a much-needed face-lift to the club.
It was their performance in Serie A that left Conte fuming in the end, with reports claiming he wanted to leave the club.
Despite being at the top of the league for a while, a loss of form prior to the pandemic meant the club had slipped to third, just behind Juventus and Lazio.
A strong run of performances, indicative of Conte’s determination earned Inter a second place, one point ahead of Juventus. The disappointment was only compounded by the fact that the champions, Juventus, played perhaps their worst season in their nine-year Scudetto winning spell, under Maurizio Sarri and it was the best opportunity for Conte’s Inter to cash in – an attempt at which they obviously failed.
Despite glimpses of Conte genius tactics and substitutions across major parts of last season, the season would still be remembered as one where Inter missed the opportunity of capturing gold.
With Conte at the helm for at least one more season, it is high time for the former Chelsea manager to break the Juventus juggernaut.
Conte has been backed for one more season by the club hierarchy with formidable additions in the likes of Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, Alexander Kolarov from AS Roma and Arturo Vidal from Barcelona on a free transfer. The signing of Vidal was the one Conte desperately wanted, having worked with the Chilean in Turin.
While the additions to the squad starting from last season have been absolutely fantastic, it has also given room to critics to lambast the Italian maestro’s inability to succeed in Europe and as things stand, in Italy as well. With over 200 million euros spent since 2019, the frustration of the club supporters and the manager himself is quite evident from the lack of success in the past year.
As a manager, Conte is often regarded as a genius tactician who has the ability to deliver success in a short time; Be it Juventus, Chelsea or with the Italian national team in the Euros, he has transformed ordinary teams into championship-winning outfits.
The same was expected of Inter as well. While Inter played great football for major part of last season, loss of momentum in key matches both in the league and European competitions meant they left empty-handed.
For Conte, success is all about getting quick as he does not put up with a club for more than two years, occasionally three; His track record of falling out with his own employers does not serve him well as well. It is all now or never. For Inter, with someone of Conte’s standing, the Scudetto must come this season.
He has the team, experience and everything in between to land silverware this season. They would also enjoy the fact that Andrea Pirlo’s first managerial responsibility comes with Juventus first team; Still a novice in football management, not much is expected from Pirlo’s first season.
As for Conte, he has a point to prove- an opportunity to dethrone the same team which he led to three successive title-winning runs, which has now got to nine, from the perch.
Anything less than that would definitely be Conte’s end for Inter.