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2021 – A Year To Celebrate!

2021 - A Year To Celebrate!

We take a look back at everything including Conte’s success, the Scudetto, a crazy transfer window and finally Inzaghi picking up the pieces while also showcasing his own style of play.

The year 2021 was very eventful to say the least. Mixed emotions were experienced throughout the year, but the team did us proud on the field. Success came with records being broken and a title to add to the collection. It’s a wonderful time to be an Interista.

Let’s look at the year in detail and break it down further.

Old habits continued –

Even with the fantastic squad which Inter possessed, it could not stop the normal January rut from occurring.

For the month of January since 2017, Inter have only managed 21 from a possible 45 points on offer. The record being 4 wins, 9 draws and 2 losses which is pretty terrible.

Although in 2021, Conte’s team this year were able to gain 11 from 18 points on offer which was a massive improvement from previous years. This included a win over Juventus which hadn’t been done since the 2016/17 season.

Even with the loss of a few points, the lead to Milan wasn’t much as Inter were still in striking distance of first place.

The streak begins –

After the 4-0 victory over Benevento on the last matchday in January, a special run of wins would follow. If we look back at the table after 20 rounds, Milan sat on 46 points in first and Inter in second on 44 points.

Conte’s side would win 11 in a row from that point, thus ensuring that Inter would gain their 19th league title. The winning steak would start from Matchday 20 and end on Matchday 31 with a 1-1 draw against Napoli.

The victory against Lazio in round 22 would break the hearts of Milan fans as Inter leapfrogged Milan into first place. A position which Milan had held tightly since the fourth round of the season.

The following week would put the final nail in the coffin as Inter demolished Milan 3-0 with some beautiful football being played on the pitch. From that point, there was no stopping Inter.

As the weeks continued, the lead grew further and further. By Inter’s game away to Napoli, the gap was already 11 points and even after the draw we would see Inter still hold a 9 point margin to their rivals.

Scudetto – Finally!

With four matches still to be played, the Scudetto was wrapped up and the celebrations could begin. Inter won their match 2-0 away to Crotone while Atalanta was held to a 1-1 draw at Sassuolo.

Mathematically the title was Inter’s and no one could catch us. There was a party organised for the Giuseppe Meazza the week following, and the players and fans did not disappoint.

From the training ground to the stadium, there were tens of thousands of supporters lining the streets marshaling the team buses through traffic. Inter players and staff all chanting and singing as the Curva Nord congratulated the team from the streets when the buses drove by.

We saw before the match, Sampdoria would make a tunnel for Inter players to walk through to commemorate them for their Scudetto win. Celebrations would continue on the field as Inter annihilated Sampdoria 5-1 as Inter pretty much played a second string team.

It wasn’t until the final Matchday of the season when Inter would lift the trophy after the game against Udinese. Another annihilation which ended 5-1 with five different scorers for the Nerazzurri.

A moment to remember for many players as it was their first trophy ever gained in football. For the likes of Bastoni and Barella, this is just the beginning who have plenty of years left with Inter.

From joy to… PANIC!

If season 2020/21 ended like a dream, then season 2021/22 became a nightmare before a ball was even kicked.

With Inter struggling on the financial side of things, Suning decided to get a loan to help balance the books. This would mean in the short term, Inter would be safe from going bankrupt but didn’t mean complete safety just yet.

Conte –

A massive decision was to come as Conte put in his resignation and a decided not to re-sign with the club. This was not long after the previous season had finished.

We weren’t sure at the time, but would later find out that a couple of Inter players would need to be sold in the summer window. A decision which must’ve been made without any permission or input from Conte.

Inzaghi –

Inter were then on the search for a new manager, with many names being thrown around. Inzaghi, the Lazio coach at the time would quit his role so he would be available to coach Inter.

It was a great choice as Inzaghi had been fantastic at Lazio. A team which Inzaghi seemed to get the best out of, considering the squad itself wasn’t one to envy. He made the most of a squad which the Lazio owner Lotito didn’t want to invest much money into.

We must also not forget that Inzaghi’s Lazio took a strong Juventus side deep into the title race a couple of seasons prior.

Eriksen and Calhanoglu – 

Unfortunately, only two weeks into the new gig, Inzaghi would lose one of his strike-weapons on the pitch as Christian Eriksen suffered cardiac arrest at Euro 2020. Eriksen would initially be ruled out for 6 months after undergoing surgery to save his life. Later, we would find out that Eriksen’s Inter career was over.

At that moment, the backroom of Inter came together and smartly decided to offer Hakan Calhanoglu a contract as Hakan was not happy at Milan. Damage was avoided as we would see Calhanoglu become instrumental in Inter’s success later in the year.

Hakimi – 

In early July, the club decided to cash in on one of it’s greatest assets in Hakimi. A player who was very important during Inter’s Scudetto winning season and someone who could’ve really thrived under Inzaghi.

Under Conte, Hakimi took a little while to learn Italian football but once he adjusted it was almost impossible for teams to stop him. After less than 12 months with Inter, Hakimi quickly became one of the best right wingbacks in world football.

With the sudden burst of improvement, rival teams came knocking. The offering price of €70mil from PSG for Hakimi’s services was too tempting to turn down as Inter were now forced to look for a new wingback available in the market.

Hakimi was someone who didn’t want to leave Inter, so hopefully he still considers Inter his home and will return one day.

Lukaku – 

There was less than a month left in the transfer window, and rumours of Lukaku leaving the club started to circulate. At the time, all Inter fans thought that Romelu was happy at Inter and hoping English media were spreading just lies to sell papers.

However where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.

Lukaku was in the U.S training on his own after Euro 2020 ready to meet up with the club for the Florida Cup. This was a tournament which Arsenal were also supposed to play but both withdrew due to COVID.

After the withdrawal, this is where the rumours went into overdrive for Lukaku’s sale. Apparently a sale which Lukaku’s agent had orchestrated behind the scenes.

We would see Inter reject Chelsea’s first offer of €100mil plus Marcos Alonso.

Marotta (Inter CEO) would come out on the record saying “From our side, we can say yes absolutely, Lukaku is not for sale. Lukaku is an important piece on the chessboard available to Simone Inzaghi.”

A few days later, another offer would come in for €115mil from Chelsea which saw Lukaku put in his request for the transfer. The club had no choice but to accept the offer, as both sides looked to benefit from the deal.

Inter were able to fix up their finances while Lukaku was able to fulfil his dream of returning to Chelsea looking to emulate the heroics of his idol Didier Drogba.

There was never an intention to sell Lukaku before the window started. However, things change and an offer of that magnitude is way too massive not to accept.

Reinforcements –

Only two days after the Lukaku sale became official, Inter made their own announcements. There were two key signings made in Dzeko and Dumfries.

There were many options on the market for a striker, but the Bosnian superstar was exactly what Inzaghi needed. A tall, versatile and lethal player to lead the line was the perfect signing.

During the Euro’s, the Dutch international Denzel Dumfries impressed and started appearing on a lot of teams radars. One of those teams was Inter, who was in need desperately of a replacement for Hakimi and the PSV captain looked to suit the requirements.

Overall, a decent transfer window where finances were improved and the squad was still competitive.

Inzaghi’s time to shine –

The man under the most pressure was Simone Inzaghi. Imagine taking over from Conte, who delivered Inter their first trophy in a decade. It almost reminded me of when Benitez took over from Mourinho the year after the Treble win.

Obviously not at that level, but the expectation for another league title would’ve been high on the agenda.

In the preseason friendlies, Inzaghi’s style was already rubbing off as Inter won their last few matches pretty comfortably including a 3-0 demolition job over Ukrainian champions Dynamo Kiev.

Although, as the Serie A season would begin we would see it takes a little bit of adjustment from Conte’s style to Inzaghi’s style. For the players, the international schedule and fatigue was clearly impacting the season.

Inter would get off to a slow start, only managing 18 points from the first nine matches. After sitting in 3rd, it was time to get a move on as the gap to first was already 7 points.

From that point on, Inter have now obtained 28 from 30 points to be sitting in first at the winter break by 4 points to Milan.

The style Inter are playing is now sensational and a massive improvement from Conte’s last season. The side have now won 7 games in a row and in the past 6 matches have not conceded a goal.

Inzaghi ball is entertaining and easy on the eye too. I’m very excited to see how the team will player as you’d think the chemistry of the team will keep increasing.

Re-signings –

We always talk about transfers in, but to keep the current squad is important. Especially the young players who are improving as games go by.

We’ve been fortunate so far this season with some crucial contract extensions.  So far Lautaro, Barella and Dimarco have all put pen to paper to stay with Inter. In the works are Brozovic, Perisic and Skriniar to stay with the club.

As a fan, we need to lock these three guys down ASAP. As I know Conte will be keen to work with them again now that he’s at Tottenham.

Also on the backend, there are talks of Marotta and Ausilio getting upgrades. Something which all Inter fans are hopeful to get over the line before the season is out. Marotta has been the key to Inter’s success, so as long as he stays the club is in good hands.

This team is different –

In the past few matches the team have been playing ruthless. It’s something we never saw under Conte where 1-0 was enough. Under Inzaghi, we do not sit on a 1-0 lead as the team look for a second and third goal to secure the win.

Initially we were drawing games we should’ve easily won. Looking back, I think we can put that down to fatigue while on international duty. As once the team became healthy we are looking like a completely different side.

We must recognise that Inter had not made the Round of 16 in the Champions League in a decade before this season. The platform was built was Conte, but Inzaghi has improved the system already in place.

For the first time in Serie A history, Inter scored more than 100 goals in a calendar year. A record which had not been broken in over 100 years. We have both Conte and Inzaghi to thank for that.

Another phenomenal statistic is the home record for Inter in 2021. Inter played 21 games at the Meazza with 19 victories and 2 draws. It’s almost impossible for any team in Serie A to take points from us at home. The San Siro has once again become the fortress we remember it to be!

Obviously the season isn’t over yet, but to end the year where we are is magnificent. Four points clear, still in the Champions League and the chance for another trophy in a couple of weeks time. As I said earlier, it’s a wonderful time to be an Interista.

As always, Forza Inter!