Inter’s close victory over Verona on Sunday prompted them to take another significant step towards securing their 19th Scudetto.
To think that when Antonio Conte took over, they had just finished fourth, with a huge 21 points behind champions Juventus and now boast a 13-point lead over the Bianconeri – you can not help but be in awe of what has been achieved so far.
Since the 2009/10 season, Inter has not been crowned the best in Italy. The dominance of Juventus saw that Serie A is becoming somewhat predictable and therefore their clear dethronement is not only great for Inter, but also a victory for Italian football.
The fact that the reappearance of Inter is led by a Juventus legend will undoubtedly make it difficult for Torino spectators, but what has Conte done to improve the Nerazzurri so dramatically and overtake his former club in such a short time?
Romelu Lukaku has been in irresistible form this season, scoring 21 times in 32 league appearances. The Belgian striker publicly credited Conte with his huge improvement. Lukaku has always scored goals, but at Inter he added sophistication to his game, which we have yet to see.
To truly appreciate the importance of a 27-year-old, you will need to observe him for 90 minutes. His tireless performances have seen him run channels, fall deep to get the ball when needed, come in from behind and show ruthlessness in front of the door. Conte and his staff maximize his potential and perhaps most importantly, have made him feel loved and are now reaping the benefits.
Last season, Inter failed. Conte’s men finished alone after their congested rivals and the 2019/20 champions, but although they missed – closing the gap between the pair in their first season – he would have won both his players and the club’s supporters.
The 51-year-old’s ability to improve teams immediately is what makes him one of the most respected coaches in world football, and at a time when managers rarely get the time they feel they need, it’s invaluable.
In terms of his recruitment policy, Conte prefers to sign experienced players instead of betting on youngsters. The short-term nature of his approach sometimes criticizes him, but allows him to achieve his goals faster than most.
His passion for his profession is contagious – he celebrates every goal as if he scored it and provided the spark needed to ignite Inter as a club and some of their failed players.
Tactically, he is there with the best. Conte is a very experienced coach and you could argue with the fact that his Juventus colleague Andrea Pirlo is the opposite, that he helped him in the pursuit of the Scudetto this season.
But leaving Juve’s death aside, the Nerazzurri are incredibly consistent. This talented group has lost only twice in the league so far, but it largely depends on the mentality and tactical security instilled by the brilliant Conte.