Antonio Conte is a fantastic manager, but my word, he can be an insufferable human at times.
After taking over from Luciano Spalletti in the summer of 2019, many saw this as the moment Serie A’s pendulum shifted in favour of the Milanese club. To ensure that the direction of the wind was permanently blowing towards San Siro, the Inter owners set about building a team worthy of winning the Scudetto.
Over the next 12 months, I Nerazzurri spent a fortune to keep Conte content. In came Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Christian Eriksen, Valentino Lazaro, Stefano Sensi, Nicolo Barella, Ashley Young, Victor Moses, Diego Godin, Cristiano Biraghi and more – all for a sum north of €150m.
And yet, despite all the investment, despite holding onto their superstars and signing hundreds of wing-backs, it just wasn’t enough for their Italian coach. In the aftermath of Inter’s 2-0 victory over Atalanta on the final day of the season, (which confirmed their position as the second best team in Italy behind Juventus), Conte let loose.
“Neither my work nor the players’ work was acknowledged, I found little protection from the club when making comparisons. If you want to reduce the gap with Juventus you have to be strong on the pitch but above all off it.
“We will have to talk to the president who is in China now. I don’t like people jumping on the bandwagon now, we have to be there for the good times and bad and this has not happened at Inter. I understand that, if you are weak, it is hard to protect your team and coach.”
Wowzers. So, it looks like Conte may be out of the door sooner than we had imagined. But who is capable of filling his whingey shoes? 90min has a run through of five potential candidates.
We begin with the bookies’ favourite. Inter’s thinking here is clearly ‘in order to beat Juventus, first, you must become Juventus.’ While that may be a bitter pill for I Nerazzurri supporters to swallow, it’s also a fact of life. Having stolen I Bianconeri’s chief executive Giuseppe Marotta, and then appointed ex-Juve son Conte as coach, why not go the whole nine yards and change the blue stripes to white?
In all seriousness though, there is no one better placed with more experience or credentials to carry Inter to the promised land than Allegri. The ex-Turin favourite guided his former side to five Serie A successes in as many years, helping them cement the domination of Italian football that they possess today.
There’s not much else to say about him really. Sign him up, and Juve will be quivering in their boots.
Another free agent in the dugout, Mauricio Pochettino is surely one of the names bouncing around the San Siro boardroom as a post-Conte backup plan. The Argentine coach revolutionised the sport at Tottenham Hotspur, taking them from a club with little direction or consistent success, to a Champions League regular with an attractive project for players to join.
As with all good things, it eventually came to an end, and Spurs supporters now look back at those days with bittersweet tears, allowing their eyes to glaze over and avoid the painful reality that is the José Mourinho era.
Pochettino boasts all the hallmarks of a winning coach, and once he gets that first trophy, the rest will fall in line. Is Inter the place to end his long wait for glory?
When Carlo Ancelotti opted to join Everton at Christmas, the football world fittingly raised an eyebrow for the Italian coach. So far, this experiment hasn’t quite worked, has it? The Toffees are not responding to his methods, and having finished the season in 12th place, some are questioning if this match is really made in heaven.
For Ancelotti, he can do better. As an established ego whisperer, the Italian could slot in nicely at Inter, and guide this star-studded group to title success. He’s also pretty handy in Europe, and could give them a fair crack at the Champions League, too.
Is he still cut out for the elite jobs? Let’s find out.
A man cut from the same, terrifying cloth as Conte, Diego Simeone could be a viable alternative for I Nerazzurri. The Argentine has built this Atletico Madrid side with his bare hands, whipping them into shape and producing one of the best-drilled teams in recent history.
An ex-Inter player, Simeone would be a popular appointment with the San Siro faithful, and his league title success of 2014, combined with reaching two Champions League finals, shows he can mix it with the best of them. The 50-year-old is extremely attached to his Atleti project, but should los Colchoneros win that elusive European trophy this summer, then he may feel that it is ‘mission accomplished’ at the Wanda Metropolitano.
If Inter are looking for another task-master, then look no further.
An underdog, but they can often be the most dangerous in a fight. Roberto De Zerbi has quietly been impressing onlookers since taking the reins at Sassuolo in 2018, but there can be no hiding from the plaudits after this season’s antics. I Neroverdi finished the campaign in ‘best of the rest’, eighth position, and their attractive style of play has captured Europe’s attention.
In fact, De Zerbi’s free-flowing, entertaining philosophy has even seen him linked with Barcelona! So if la Blaugrana are having a look at him, why not Inter? His lack of winning experience and untested ability to deal with huge personalities goes against him, but if I Nerazzurri’s owners are feeling risky, the Italian coach could deliver the most entertaining title success in over a decade.
Dream big, fellas.