It was not a surprise at all for Inter to announce Antonio Conte as their new manager, after weeks of talks. It made many feel that the nerazzurri finally have a manager who is the best since Jose Mourinho, who won the club an unprecedented treble in 2010.
Conte had attracted interest from multiple clubs across Italy, including Juventus, Roma and AC Milan too. But Inter acted quickly and signed him well before the others could, even though they had a manager in charge. AC Milan, Roma and Juventus did not.
After Luciano Spalletti had turned out to be the club’s most reliable manager since Mourinho left, it certainly is time for the San Siro side to step up a gear and finally challenge for the Scudetto again. In Conte, they have a man who knows how to do the job, when given the resources he needs.
Credit though, should also be given to Spalletti for taking this club to Champions League and handing Conte the foundation to take the team forward. It will provide the club an impetus to go after their targets- Paulo Dybala, Federico Chiesa, Nicolo Barella, Romelu Lukaku and Lorenzo Pellegrini. Those are the players that Conte needs to make Inter a consistent Scudetto contender. And having Champions League football will help them in that.
Under Spalletti, Inter lacked an identity many times. There seemed to be specific formation, but no tactical identity that the Inter of Mourinho had. The players looked clueless and it looked planless sometimes. But thanks to the failures of Roma and Milan, they did make top four. And that should be enough for Conte.
Juventus will be in transition if they get Maurizio Sarri and Milan will stay where they are for a season if Simone Inzaghi comes in. Roma will be in a rebuild phase and Lazio will be rebuilding without Inzaghi again. That is why Inter have a massive advantage. They have the foundation laid and a decent squad, with just some pegs missing. Those pegs are being expected to be shored up in the summer by Beppe Marotta.
Conte knows how to impose an identity and his style on a team, irrespective of how the team is. That is what he did at Juventus with a rather mediocre team and he won the Premier League at Chelsea with a team that he made out of some signings of his own. As soon as he wasn’t given signings of his own, Conte walked out and left the Stamford Bridge side.
That is why Inter have struck gold with Conte. The only way forward is to seriously challenge for the Serie A title instead of providing a feeble shout for it only till December.
Once the Italian gets the players he wants, Inter will be serious Champions League and Serie A contenders. Napoli are growing under Carlo Ancelotti and if Juventus are not at their best, they will be left to rue the disappointment of letting Napoli or Inter win the league after a long time.