Why Inzaghi Is the Main Catalyst in the Superb Inter Campaign

While football fans often discuss the role of the manager and to what extent it affects the outcome of a club’s campaign, the current Serie A season showcases just how essential it is to place the right person in the right dugout, as one ill-advised call from the hierarchy could prove to be the difference between momentous triumph and colossal failure.

Even though we’re still in February, we can already tell which clubs made the right decision in the summer, and which ones got it spectacularly wrong. When the dust settled, it was quite obvious that Inter acted wisely when deciding to entrust Simone Inzaghi with the mission to guide the team in the long run.

However, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the Piacenza native. In fact, about this time last year, his job was reportedly hanging by a thread with the Nerazzurri suffering inexplicable defeats at the hands of lowly opposition.

Luckily for the tactician – or rather for the entire club – his team rallied towards the Champions League final for the first time since José Mourinho’s treble-winning season, while clinching another Coppa Italia trophy certainly didn’t harm his case.

By the end of the season, almost everyone at the club’s headquarters in Viale della Liberazione was convinced that Inzaghi deserves another shot, even if failing to lift the Scudetto has been a glaring blemish on his first two campaigns in Black-and-Blue. After all, the 47-year-old had inherited a team that was proudly donning the Tricolore badge following a dominant Serie A campaign under the guidance of Antonio Conte.

Nevertheless, succeeding a winning manager might arguably be one of the most daunting tasks in football, or even in team sports in general.

But instead of taking our word for it, feel free to ask the cursed souls that have been manning the Luciano Spalletti-haunted dugout at the Maradona Stadium.

Napoli’s Catastrophic Succession

As history records prove, having four persons ruling over an entity in the same calendar year is often a bad omen, and for obvious reasons. Whether it’s the Year of the Four Emperors in Rome (69 CE), or the Year of the Four Kings in England (1066), those were immensely turbulent times for everyone involved, and it certainly isn’t any different for Napoli, albeit in a mere sporting sense.

As we mentioned above, a simple change in personnel – like replacing a technical staff with another – can stimulate a sequence of unfortunate events when putting the wrong persons in the wrong posts (repeatedly!).

So whoever doubts just how pivotal a football manager is for the club’s success is invited to take a swift glimpse at the fortunes of Napoli who have been enduring a shocking decay since Spalletti’s departure. Even the stars who left supporters and opponents alike in awe last term have become unrecognizable, losing the aura they enjoyed under the tutelage of the current Italy manager.

In Rudi Garcia’s defense, he was doomed from the minute he inked his Partenopei contract, as replicating his predecessor’s feat was quite simply an impossible task despite inhering almost the same squad, and for several reasons that deserve a piece on their own.

Then, club president Aurelio De Laurentiis decided to “rectify” the situation by recalling Walter Mazzarri and asking him to recreate Spalletti’s brand of football, even though the former Watford man has adopted a strikingly different philosophy throughout his career and had seldom used a 4-3-3 formation before.

So much for the right man in the right place!

Mazzarri The Sequel: How Will Napoli Line Up Under the Returning Manager?

Crumbling Allegri

But enough about Napoli’s woes. Let’s discuss those who ought to challenge Inter for the Scudetto, at least based on their historic status.

Juventus started the campaign on a high note, presenting themselves as the sole obstacle standing between the Nerazzurri and their coveted second star.

But in the last few weeks, the Bianconeri were exposed for what they truly are: a team running purely on Grinta and individual brilliance, as evidenced by some of their last-gasp victories.

With all due respect to the “Corto Muso” mantra, this surely isn’t sufficient in the current day and age.

A defeat in the Derby d’Italia left a significant emotional scare upon the Bianconeri stars who realized that their arch-rivals are operating on a whole different level as a collective. The subsequent negative results depict a team that is struggling to move forward amid the lack of self-belief and any sort of coherent play.

In recent days, legendary Juventus figures like Marcello Lippi and Fabrizio Ravanelli rose to Massimiliano Allegri’s defense, instead pointing the finger at the squad’s lack of quality.

While these are highly respected figures who also happen to bring up valid arguments, it still doesn’t exempt the manager from his responsibility, as he doesn’t seem to bring anything to the table on the attacking phase except for encouraging words that clearly aren’t helping at the moment.

Moreover, one has to wonder what’s behind the gulf of quality between Inter and Juventus. After all, the financial figure sheets tell that the Turin-based giants splashed more cash on their squad compared to the current Serie A leaders.

Maybe, just maybe, this gap was partially created by Allegri’s inability to take the best out of his players – especially Dusan Vlahovic and Federico Chiesa – while others who cost less are now flourishing under Inzaghi’s watch at Inter.

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The Inzaghi Factory

When enumerating the reasons behind Inter’s current success – which should culminate with a Scudetto triumph at the end of the season – CEO Giuseppe Marotta is often on top of the list, and rightly so.

The 66-year-old’s switch from Torino to Milano in 2018 arguably shifted the balance of power at the very top of the Calcio echelon. It signaled the beginning of the end of Old Lady’s winning cycle which concurred with the slow but steady rise of the Beneamata.

Nevertheless, belittling the excellent work conducted by Inzaghi and his staff would be cruelly unfair.

It’s easy to overlook the manager’s work. After all, he’s not the most outspoken or charismatic and hardly self-promotes. Moreover, he didn’t enjoy the most glamorous career as a footballer. In fact, he spent his entire journey on the pitch in the shadow of his older and much more prolific brother Pippo.

Nonetheless, popularity must not be considered a factor when measuring the success of a football manager, and while the younger Inzaghi might not be the most charming, he happens to be the architect of one of the most thrilling sides to watch on the European scene.

Yes, Marotta did well by poaching the services of several important players, either on free transfers or at relatively low cost, but even the veteran director wouldn’t have imagined the levels they managed to reach under the guidance of the former Lazio man.

Who would have thought that Francesco Acerbi would prove to be the antidote for the unstoppable Erling Haaland? How about Henrikh Mkhitaryan reaching his peak in his mid-thirties or the previously unwanted Federico Dimarco emerging as one of the best wingbacks in the world? And last but not least, Hakan Calhanoglu’s transformation into one of the finest deep-lying playmakers in the world.

And aside from the individual brilliance, Inter are displaying a marvelous brand of football as a collective, operating like a well-oiled machine.

In this regard, the manager deserves enormous kudos for finding the elusive balance between playing exquisite football, maintaining a solid backline and remaining highly efficient in front of goal.

Inzaghi Stepping out of the Shadows

Eclipsed by his older brother’s stardom, then deemed a poor man’s replacement to Antonio Conte or a mere pawn in Beppe Marotta’s grand scheme, Simone has yet to truly hug the limelight, nor it is something that he truly fashions.

But whether he likes to admit it or not, the Nerazzurri coach has now achieved global fame and is widely considered among the most proficient tacticians in the game, and it is past time he starts receiving the recognition he undoubtedly deserves.

With all due respect to Marotta’s genius, Lautarto Martinez’s seemingly never-ending goals and Calhanoglu’s midfield brilliance, Inzaghi is the lynchpin connecting all the dots, ensuring that the team marches forward smoothly and coherently while everyone else in their wake.

And for that reason, the Piacenza native could well be the main catalyst in a rising force that might dominate Italian football for years to come, and perhaps even bring the “Big Ears” trophy to the peninsula after years of mishaps and shortcomings.

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