It’s been an up and down season for Inter. After a stellar start to the campaign, winning eight of their first ten matches and going undefeated in the league until December, it looked as if Luciano Spalletti’s first season in charge would be a hugely successful one.
Their league form tailed off, but Inter overcame Lazio on the final day of the season to qualify for the Champions League in dramatic fashion.
A poor domestic cup showing thrown in means there is work yet to be done at the Nerazzurri.
1. League Performance
Inter started the season on fire. Eight wins in their first ten games left them looking as if they may be the side to break Juventus’ stranglehold on the division. But a Christmas capitulation, coupled with recent defeats to Sassuolo and Torino, meant they faced a struggle to qualify for the Champions League.
However, while Napoli inherited the responsibility of being the side to take the challenge to Juventus when it once looked like it would be Inter giving the Old Lady a run for their money, it shouldn’t be forgotten that this season represents progress. Inter have shown some highly promising signs.
After a seventh placed finish last season, they eventually finished fourth this campaign, above city and stadium rivals AC Milan. If Inter can cut out some of the inconsistency and dropped points that harpooned their prospective title challenge this season, their domestic future could be bright.
2. Domestic Cup Performance
Inter’s Coppa Italia campaign began as their league season appeared to be coming off the rails, and this showed in their performances as they just about squeezed past Serie C side Pordenone on penalties in the round of 16, and followed it up with a 1-0 quarter final defeat to AC Milan.
To reach only the quarter finals after entering at the last 16 stage is, on paper, an average performance at best. When you consider the meek fashion in which they bowed out to their bitter rivals, their cup performance leaves a lot of room for improvement.
3. Best Player
This one is academic. Talismanic captain Mauro Icardi has scored 29 goals in Serie A this campaign, more than any Inter player has since Antonio Angelillo in 1959, and is undoubtedly the most influential player in the Nerazzuri ranks.
If Inter are to go a step further and challenge at the head of the division in 2018/19, keeping hold of the 25-year-old is crucial, but after fending off interest from all over Europe last summer, it’s hard to imagine it will be an easy task.
4. Worst Player
It may seem harsh to pin the worst player tag on a 19-year-old, but after Yann Karamoh joined from Caen last summer and added to the buzz around him with a tremendous strike in his first start against Bologna, the Ivorian winger has flattered to deceive.
It should be noted that clearly he has the potential to become a very good player, but after a frustrating season in which he has failed to make the substantial impression he was tipped for in his handful of starts, perhaps a loan move is the way forward for the highly rated teenager.
5. The Manager
The Nerazzuri’s immediate managerial history has been somewhat turbulent, with Roberto Mancini’s two year spell between 2014 and 2016 the longest a manager has stayed in place since Jose Mourinho. Luciano Spalletti perhaps has reason to believe he will be the man to buck the trend.
The ambition when he came in was to get Inter back into the Champions League, and by December, with Inter undefeated and at the top of Serie A, the former Roma manager looked as if he was cruising beyond expectations in his first season.
They have tailed off, but have still guaranteed a return to the top four at the first time of asking under their new boss. Inter should, and look as if they are willing to be patient and give Spalletti a chance to build on the successes and failures of his first season in charge.
6. Overall Grade
After such a relentlessly promising start to the season, it would be hard as an Inter fan not to feel at least slightly deflated at the fourth placed finish. What’s perhaps most worrying is the inconsistency that has so often plagued them in recent years reared its head in the second half of the season and cost them a genuine title challenge.
However, it is easy to get hung up on the negatives. Some of the football Inter have played this campaign has been nothing short of phenomenal, and prior to Christmas, they looked as if they had the gusto to go on and become one of the great Italian teams. That level of class doesn’t just disappear.
If they get the recruitment right this summer and hold on to the core of their squad (Icardi!), the future could be very bright indeed for the Nerazzuri.
Overall Grade: B