£150m spent by Conte to turn his side into Scudetto challengers falls out as the coach is fed up and admits he will “make considerations” at the end of a disappointing trophyless season.
Appointing Antonio Conte to Inter Milan ensured intensity and drama never missed out. While the 50-year-old joined Inter last summer, the club was gushing praises over him. With Juventus expected to be weaker than ever before with Massimiliano Allegri moving on, the Milanese club sensed a real chance. In Conte, they felt they held the key to success.
Conte wasted no time in informing Inter president, Steven Zhang that the squad he inherited was nowhere near good enough to dethrone Juventus and stop them from lifting the title for the ninth time.
The message was clear as there came in £73m worth Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez from Man United. Following was Valentino Lazaro, Matteo Politano, Stefano Sensi, and Nicolo Barella.
Diego Godin was added on a free and Mauro Icardi was shipped out of PSG on loan that became permanent this summer.
Ashley Young and Victor Moses continued to rebuild while Christian Eriksen joined this summer from Tottenham.
This expensively assembled side flew out of the blocks and took maximum points from their opening six games. Thirteen goals scored and two conceded. The huge outlay to back Conte suddenly looked cheap as Inter looked, legitimate title contenders.
Then, they ran into serial title winners Juventus. Even under Maurizio Sarri, the squad is packed with players who know how to get things done.
Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain’s goals were decisive in a 2-1 win at the San Siro. For the first time in the season, Conte’s men appeared to have a chink in their armory.
Inter went on to win six of their next seven league games. But, it was as if the 2-1 loss to their biggest rivals was nagging as four draws from the next six were crippling.
Unlike the beginning of the season, those doubts began showing much more frequently to a point where Juventus got the better of Conte’s side again. This time, behind closed doors in Turin just before COVID-19 shutdown, title talk had been parked for the season.
The gap between the sides was nine points at that stage and Conte was a ball of angry energy. The mood in Milan was he was excessively harsh to his players.
Three wins, two draws and one loss since football return is okay but not when the Serie A title is the target. Inter only have themselves to blame.
In other words, Inter has dropped a staggering 20 points from leading positions this season. Had they taken 50% of these, they would be joint-top with Juventus.
After a turnaround loss to Bologna at the San Siro recently, Conte snapped, reportedly keeping his players locked in the dressing room for an inquest as to what has happened.
Their title bid evaporated behind-closed-doors back in March but they were now looking at fourth, having been overtaken by Atalanta.
While expectations are Conte and Inter will stick together for another season, should he lose complete faith in this squad, stranger things will happen than him walking out on everything he constructed.
Despite starting with lots of promise, a trophyless season for the expensively assembled group represents a grave failure that the most optimistic fan cannot sugarcoat.