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Gobbo No More

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I suggest reading this while listening to Dream No More by Metallica.

Hi. Full disclosure: this is the first time in months that I write about Inter. It is deeply opinionated; it gives zero content. It is a passionate rant of a man suffering from seasonal flu, stomachache, caffeine overdose and a strange case of black and blue depression, the kind that make you crawl in a ball under the sheets, away from the keyboard. Powerless. Wondering if should lock yourself up and isolate from society because your everything makes no sense. And for Interisti, Inter is everything. It is metaphor of life. We do not experience life as normal people. We see everything in gold when thing go alright. We see everything in blue when we are there, fighting and making it. We see everything in black when thing go wrong. Like Gagliardini shooting to the sky in front of goal with no keeper on sight.

Being an Interista is not easy, we all know that. Honour and duty, words of Giacinto Facchetti. It is a heavy, wearing burden. At the limits of masochism. But it is our strength. This is what separates us from the rest. We rise to the top like cream when the temperature gets high.

Take Jose Mourinho. He looked and sounded arrogant, and it did not look like someone “da Inter”. Mancini was a much better fit. Good looking bloke, a classy footballer, ready to go out balls to the wall on black days. Pure Inter material. Instead, Jose Mourinho adapted to that cauldron that Italy, football and media included, is. He became Inter. It was balls to the wall 24/7. Inter against the world.

It was a different era of Italian football; the level was much lower than today. Roma was tough, Milan was struggling, Napoli was building up, Juventus was nowhere to be found. Oh, good times. But nobody can say that Inter was not a great team. We won the Champions League! Chelsea, Barcelona and Bayern bow down to us. We were Tony Montana on cocaine, M-16 in our hands and M203 ready to blow anybody up. We got killed in the end, but hell if we took the world from its balls and made it ours.

Scarface was also a great videogame for PS2 and PC, sequel for the movie. Tony survived Sosa’s assault, but had nothing left. Gina was dead, Elvira was gone, he was alone and ready to rebuild his empire from scratch to go balls to the wall against Sosa. Al Pacino was not involved in dubbing his character, but the magic atmosphere of the movie was intact.

Today, Inter is Scarface: The Videogame. And Antonio Conte has replaced Jose Mourinho.

Bear with me. The guy is Juventus made person. Stay with me. Juventus is not Moggi, Giraudo, Bettega and Agricola. It is not EPO and gifts to referees. Juventus is Gianni Agnelli, Alex Del Piero…and Antonio Conte. We hate Juventus for the way it was managed from the inside, for the way it was carried to victory. But, deep down, we could not help but respect how good they were. We were at the same level, possibly better at times, but we also were victims of a corrupted system. And when you have a system against you, you can be the best there is and you will still lose. And you will implode. And we imploded hard. Many times. Not even Ronaldo, Zamorano and Baggio could save us from ourselves. Tears were meant to be shed. Characters were growing. But we were defeated.

Victims. How many times have you been called victim by other Serie A supporters? Yes, we are victims. It was proven. Nothing personal, of course. We just were the biggest target. Rich team. Great colours. Important history. Allure and appeal. Sounds familiar, right?

When Antonio Conte was appointed as Inter manager, and be honest, how did you feel about it? Curva Nord felt the need to remind the new coach that “winning is not the only thing that matter” for Inter. Yes, perhaps Curva Nord talks too much at times, but they were right…right? Antonio Conte and Inter. Crazy! Lippi and Inter part II? A trojan horse ready to destroy a rebirthing Inter from the inside? Madness. The biggest mistake. Chinese owners do not understand what Inter is. Give us Moratti back.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. You see, Inter under Conte is working. There is much still to do, and maybe the internal crisis that Juventus is facing is helping but Inter is doing better and cannot be denied. This morning, Italian living in Australia writing, Inter has secured a place in the Champions League. With 4 games to go. And we are still in the race for the championship. It will not happen, we are far from the top, we wasted lots of chances to be closer, even in front of Juventus, but it is part of the game, it is part of the process. Perfection takes time. And not even Mourinho’s Inter was perfect.

But something has happened today. Despite few strange decisions that costed us the victory, it was a positive day. It turned from black to blue to golden. And we walked out of the Olimpico with our balls to the wall.

Today Antonio Conte has become a symbol of Inter. It feels so weird writing it. I need to take an extra moment to digest this thought. Antonio Conte is Interista. He understood what coaching Inter, what living within the Inter environment means. He looks the world at the same way we do. Inter against the world.

He asked questions: why the press diminishes Inter season? Why is Inter calendar less well structured compared to other clubs? Why Inter must play away games late at night, being forced to return home at 4am and having only three days of rest, while other teams rest for four or five? Why Inter ends up getting the short straw? And he adds: “It has always been like this…”

Antonio Conte. Juventus icon. Admitting. That Inter is constantly mistreated. Madness.

And it makes me smile.