Upon his arrival at Inter last summer, Luciano Spalletti was welcomed as a safe pair of hands and someone who was more than capable of steering the club back to the promised land of UEFA Champions League football.
Despite an impressive track record at Roma over the past 18 months, there were doubts over his long-term credibility for the role. Not because of his coaching ability, as he is widely recognised as an excellent tactician across Europe.
However, it was clear for several months prior to Spalletti’s appointment that Suning’s two preferred candidates were Antonio Conte and Diego Simeone.
Because of this, there have always been concerns that a poor run of form could see the Tuscan coach placed under intense pressure with Zhang Jindong’s heart still set on appointing a more high-profile trainer. That said, the Nerazzurri got off to an incredible record-setting start to the campaign (unbeaten in their first 16 Serie A matches) and Spalletti’s position was the furthest thought from anyone’s mind.
Most Nerazzurri fans will admit their form was almost too good to be true, and so it has proved in the last few weeks.
A 0-0 draw at home to Pordenone in the Coppa Italia (Inter did still qualify for the quarter-finals via a penalty shootout) showed the squad is lacking depth in several key areas of the pitch. Subsequent league defeats to Udinese and Sassuolo have led to increased numbers calling on the club to invest in new players next month.
Of course, Suning still has Financial Fair Play parameters to abide by and therefore fans should not expect any world class signings to arrive. That is not an excuse for the likes of Walter Sabatini and Piero Ausilio to rest on their laurels and not look to add one or two players who can help the team.
Spalletti has made it abundantly clear that he expects reinforcements.
After two successive losses to the Friulani and Neroverdi, the responsibility ultimately lies with the coach. That is why Spalletti must reverse this recent trend as quickly as possible to avoid suffering the same fate as several of his predecessors. Andrea Stramaccioni, Walter Mazzarri and Stefano Pioli also made fantastic starts to life at Inter, before each coming to the same sticky end.
Given the enthusiasm he has brought to San Siro, where the average attendance has been over 50,000 this season, there is still plenty of time to turn the situation around.
The club must help his cause next month though or a sustained title challenge looks highly unlikely; indeed, Roma and Lazio will ensure that a return to Europe’s top table is anything but guaranteed.
Written by Jordan Russell
Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96
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