Antonio Conte has Inter on the charge after picking his battles

Antonio Conte has Inter charging to the title after picking his battles and WINNING them… from taking on the board to rebooting Christian Eriksen, the former Chelsea boss knows he’s been a ‘pain in the a**’, but it’s working

  • Antonio Conte and Inter are well placed to end a 10-year wait for the Scudetto  
  • It is something of a surprise after the boss received calls from fans to be sacked  
  • However, the ex-Chelsea coach has his side firing, with nine home wins in a row

Antonio Conte is on the cusp of finally winning Inter fans over. Taking a step closer every day to the Scudetto, the aim of bringing the title back to Milan after nine years of Juventus domination is within sight.   

They are rampant, and the stats don’t lie. Across Europe, only Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and Pep Guardiola’s high-flying Manchester City have better points averages. 

At both ends of the field, Inter are in top gear; they’ve conceded just once in their last seven league matches, while scoring 17 in the same run. That has helped them to secure nine consecutive home victories. You would have to go back to 2011 to find a Nerazzurri outfit doing the same. 

After months of screaming and fighting, Inter are finally coming around to Conte’s style of play and his philosophy. Moreover, it is working, too.      

With Romelu Lukaku on a one-man wrecking mission at one end and an impassable defence at the other, it is difficult to see where Inter’s rivals can turn to for a glimmer of hope.

Antonio Conte and Inter are finally pulling in the right direction after months of turmoil 

The ‘Contismo’ age of Inter Milan

The ‘Contismo’ is the term given to Conte’s football philosophy; a mixture of muscles and discipline and a blend of intensity and running that is at the heart of a very simple tactical scheme. 

Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 is the result of a very elementary vision that plots to flood the the middle of the park, make the most of wide areas and utilise the explosiveness of  Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez. 

In Europe this tactic doesn’t always bear fruit, but Conte has persevered. The Champions League has not been a priority – as evidenced by the two failed European campaigns under the former Chelsea boss. 

Romelu Lukaku has been the main source of Inter’s success on their charge towards the title 

Instead, ‘Contismo’ has been instilled as its main philosophy, with domination on the domestic front the focus and a tactic deployed which can exploit the collective deficiencies of Serie A sides. 

Lukaku has benefited most from Conte’s concept. Buying into his manager’s vision, he represents Inter’s main weapon in their mad dash towards the Scudetto.

His 18 goals are unmatched in Italy’s top flight, and have played a key a role in ending Juventus’ hopes of a 10th consecutive title.  

Conte has got the best out of the striker, whom he claimed he tried to re-sign while at Chelsea

Conte the merciful

The Christian Eriksen case shows how Conte has a great human and professional quality – he does not hold a grudge.

With the former Juventus coach it is possible to fall out, but then make peace within a training session, rebuilding a relationship with attention and concentration. 

Eriksen’s struggles were well documented when he first arrived at Inter just over a year ago, and Conte went public with his perception of the Dane, describing his disappointment with his contribution at the San Siro since arriving from Tottenham in January 2020. 

However, the former Ajax wonderkid has been allowed to work his way back in, and Conte has deployed him as his own quarterback, filling an Andrea Pirlo-esque role for the Italian champions-in-waiting.  

Christian Eriksen is beginning to deliver too, after suffering a difficult start to life in Milan 

His aptitude for long balls offers a second idea of ​​passing in midfield and takes the pressure off the shoulders of Marcelo Brozovic. From being a prisoner of Milan to becoming the midfield conductor, Conte should be praised for Eriksen’s transformation.

Ivan Perisic, too, has adapted to a new role and is fundamental at both ends of the field with his tireless work on the wing. Inter have found in the Croatian a new resource in the season finale. 

Conte repaired the mentality of both stars by trusting them in his starting line-up. 

The Dane only remained in Milan due to lack of offers and Conte decided to bet on him. His form tells you all you need to know about the success of the call.

The reinvention of the pair has been key in the rejuvenation of the club’s season – one that appeared up in smoke in November.   

Ivan Perisic has been a key part of the Inter squad, adapting to a new role well under Conte

Conte is winning off the pitch, too 

Conte has never shied away from adversity, or a fight. At Inter, he has got into the habit of picking them with some big characters.

Only last month he was caught up in a furious touchline row with Juventus owner – and his former boss – Andrea Agnelli following Inter’s Coppa Italia semi-final clash.

However, it is the battles he has picked a little close to home that have been more telling. 

The Inter coach lashed out the club’s owners – Suning Holdings – in August for failing to back him and his players after they finished the season a respectable second. 

He has not been shy in making his demands in the transfer market known, and convinced them to inject experience into the squad in the summer, with Aleksandar Kolarov and Arturo Vidal among the recruits.

Inter president Steven Zhang (left) has not pulled the trigger on firing Conte, and it has paid off

In return, trophies were expected, a prospect that appeared distant in November. 

Between being given the time to turn things around, and cash-strapped Suning’s reluctance to sack a man that would cost them €47m to get rid of – Conte, the league’s most expensive head coach, rode out the storm and had time to inject his philosophy into his squad.

It wasn’t something that the fans bought much at first either – the hashtag #ConteOut trended on Italian Twitter.

But slowly, with victory after victory, the tide turned in his favour. Now Conte is engaging with fans through social media, posting footage of passages of play from Inter matches and asking for fans’ opinions.  

It is another example of him overcoming adversity, something he thrives upon. 

‘When people talk about me, there is always a “but”. They say: “He is a good coach, but…”; that “but” stimulates me,’ He recently told Il Corriere Della Sera. 

Conte has admits he is a ‘pain in the a**’ but his attitude appears to be working wonders 

‘I’m more prepared thanks to my experiences. I was advised not to join Inter, but I like challenges, and this one is the most difficult in my career.

‘It’s hard to change that mental chip. If you don’t win for 10 years, you subconsciously get used to the situation, look for excuses or blame someone else, you don’t see your limitations or flaws.

‘The environment is imbued with this, it is important to work not only on the players but on every sector. So you raise the pressure and become a pain in the a***. ‘

In 43 years, only three managers have so far lasted more than two full season in charge of Inter. 

They may just be hoping that this pain in their backside sticks around for a little while longer.  

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