As published on Forza Italian Football – 13/04/2017
If Inter’s shock loss to Crotone has illustrated anything, it’s that Frank De Boer was never the problem.
The unfortunate truth is that a lack of team camaraderie and passion within the squad has always been the underlying toxin for disappointing results in recent seasons.
It’s a player list compiled by a lack of forward thinking and impulse purchases, comprising some individuals who seem to think they are bigger then the club or are already looking ahead to their next move.
Since taking over the reigns in November, it’s been a fairly smooth ride for Stefano Pioli having led the team to a nine match winning streak.
When confidence is high and players are determined, things seem to fall into place. It’s easy enough to ride that wave, however as soon as you hit the water, you lose all control and are left to the mercy of the elements around you.
And that’s exactly where Pioli now finds himself.
To his credit, the former Lazio manager’s biggest achievement has been motivating a group of players that clearly had no confidence in his predecessor.
Inter’s results did not come from the workings of a master tactician but from a squad that was simply more willing to work for a cause.
The Nerazzurri’s overall style of play remained the same. The same 4-2-3-1, the same game plan of attacking down the wings and drilling in as many crosses as possible; even the same defensive vulnerabilities would exist in the team’s wing-backs.
Arguably, their biggest improvement in 2017 has come as a direct result of the purchase of Roberto Gagliardini from Atalanta and it’s no coincidence that he was missing for Sunday’s abysmal efforts.
While the impact of the young Italian prodigy has possibly delayed a lull in form, the results were inevitably going to turn sour.
The novelty of a new coach has worn off, player motivation has faded and what’s left is a team with no passion or direction.
While a drop in form was coming, possibly not even the most pessimistic Inter fan would have predicted it would dip to the depths of a defeat to Crotone; with all due respect to the Calabrese club.
It was also a loss which allowed city rivals AC Milan to jump the Nerazzurri into fifth position; yet another cruel blow to absorb.
So what next? Another coaching change to temporarily release some pressure on the club while simultaneously providing a small amount of false hope to the faithful supporters? Surely, at this point, the club has learned from prior mistakes.
There is no doubt the current squad holds enough talent to push for a Champions League position. One can simply watch October’s come-from-behind victory over Juventus under De Boer or the Pioli led 7-1 thrashing of Atalanta to appreciate what the team can do. Though until the overriding team culture improves, especially during the rough periods, they will never fulfil their potential.
And, unfortunately for the fans, there will be more matches like Crotone, featuring a team who simply aren’t willing to give their whole heart to achieve victory; irrespective of the opposition.