“Pazza Inter? No, I want a strong and consistent [Inter]” – Antonio Conte
No moniker describes a team quite like ‘Pazza’ does when it comes to Inter. Just last season, the Nerazzurri were able to secure victories over Tottenham, Napoli and AC Milan.
They also fell to Bologna, Cagliari and Bologna. Like a lover that gives you a feeling of euphoria when things are going well, only to have you question your sanity, commitment and understanding of logic when things are on the verge of ending.
Inter have managed to play that role for years, providing their fans with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Through it all – especially since reaching the pinnacle of club football in 2010 – Nerazzurri fans have stuck with the club despite their struggles. The proof is in the attendance numbers, with Inter leading Serie A with an average of 58,789 fans per home match.
It’s a bond that will be crucial if new coach Antonio Conte is to have success. Yes, that Conte. The one that coached Italy, Chelsea and perhaps most importantly, Juventus.
If you were to look at just his CV, there can be no doubts about the hire. Inter haven’t won a trophy since 2011, while the 49-year-old has shown his worth at his last three stops. Five trophies with Juventus, two with Chelsea and a quarter-final appearance at Euro 2016 with an Azzurri side that would never be mistaken for the ’82 and ’06 teams in terms of talent.
However his past makes his hire an interesting one. There’s no way around it. Conte made 419 appearances for Juventus as a player. He won a Champions League and five Scudetti. He was part of the Bianconeri side that triumphed over Inter on that famous 5th of May in 2002.
He also took control at Juventus in 2011 and kickstarted their recent run of dominance. Three consecutive Scudetti, countless records and a burgeoning reputation for getting the most out of his side. Regardless of their level of talent, a Conte team will always be hard-nosed, unrelenting and combative.
It’s those attributes, and his acrimonious split from Juventus in 2014, that makes Conte’s arrival at Inter the start of a perfect storm.
The Nerazzurri have made strides forward on and off the field in recent years, but you couldn’t help but feel that their ceiling under Luciano Spalletti was that of a top-four side.
Great in spurts but equally as awful at times, Inter looked everything like the Pazza Inter side that failed to deliver when it mattered most in the early 2000s.
That won’t fly under Conte, nor will off-field distractions. It’s no surprise that Mauro Icardi has been told to leave with the Italian at the helm, as the sideshow that he and wife Wanda Nara brought to the Giuseppe Meazza last season will no longer be tolerated.
Inconsistency and drama makes for an interesting club, but rarely does it make for a winning one and that is what Inter fans have been craving for years.
That’s why the best way for Conte to endear himself to Nerazzurri fans is to win often and to win consistently. When Inter won under Jose Mourinho, they traded in their wild ways and adopted a ruthless attitude that saw them steamroll the competition in Italy and Europe.
It may not happen immediately, as Juventus remain the cream of the crop of Italy and this summer transfer window will likely do little to change that. However, don’t sleep on Conte’s abilities, as the Bianconeri were in a similar position when he took over and they managed to win an unlikely Scudetto.
Should that scenario play out once again, it would finally end Juventus’ dominance. It would finally bring about some title drama that we’ve been lacking for so long.
It would be so Inter. Most importantly, it would truly be Pazza Inter.
Just don’t tell Conte.