No surprise to find us well beaten by a well built side who are far from an elite team but have a system which fits their natural talents, and are well trained to be cohesive and comfortable. Could have been far worse than 2-0. We were lucky…
Hideous to find those first lines appearing as I begin a brief overview of my ratings, with a review to come from one of our usual contributors if I pester him enough. Yet my words are accurate…notes despondently scribbled during the replay suggest 9 fair to good chances for Inter, 2 for us. It took us 87 minutes to conjure a threat on goal that seriously tested Handanovic. Whereas the home side did this throughout.
Tek – One of very few to emerge with any credit. Was not at fault for either goal and took up intelligent positions between the sticks and in the box to cover. 6
Chiellini – The old warrior did his best, and was fairly successful. 6
Bonucci – A fly in the eye routine aside…Big Leo did little awful, enough to warrant an average rating.6
Danilo – Strangely and suddenly out of the action, failed to impose himself in any meaningful way. 5
Frabrotta – A bit too much to expect him to take position high up the field and also defend deep at the same time. Nothing has changed though in terms of considering him a good prospect and glad he is getting games. 5
Ramsey – He is an attacking midfielder asked to play LM, RM,LW and sometimes even…AM. No wonder he struggles. 4
Bentancur – We have ruined him, a shadow of the steadily progressing CM he was for a few seasons. 4
Rabiot – His mother is going to dig in her heels and make us pay through the fangs to get rid of him in the Summer. 4
Chiesa – Outnumbered, little support from Danilo, closed down quickly and unable to create much of note save one solid effort late on. 5.5
Morata – Ineffectual then petulant late on. 4
Ronaldo – Indeed he lacked service and options when he found the ball, but also showed a poor touch on several occasions. 4
Mckennie – Industrious as always, his energy was welcome and he tried to make things happen, but not enough time. 6
Freddy – Energetic but rarely running in the right direction. 4
Kulu – Openly frustrated, trying too hard and finding only a lost cause and waves of blue and black at every turn. 4.5
Pirlo – Had no response to his system failing in every area of the field. He is out of his depth, lacking the capacity to analyse our strengths and weaknesses and find a system which fits; a one trick pony tactically. The complete absence of any passion on the sidelines unfortunately mirrored most of the players sent out to perform.
Aside from the result and where it leaves us in the table now, the most brutal and yet too obvious to ignore conclusion of this match is that we were not undone by a Conte masterclass. He played his usual game, his usual players, set up in his trademark system. We were outplayed by an average Inter performance. And had Martinez (especially) and others being a little sharper in front of goal, we would have lost very heavily. 2-0 flattered us, not them.
It is nothing new for me to suggest that the system Pirlo has tried to shoe-horn the side into does not work. The midfield especially is a major problem, and our tactical set-up exposes them horridly. Bentancur and Rabiot were neither strong in the middle, supportive higher up the field or an extra wall of defence at the back. We often look better with McKennie, not due to his technical prowess, but I feel, it is because he has such great energy and enthusiasm and is not so easily tactically focused. Yet it is not only in this area where we look painfully unbalanced.
We are rarely seeing any of our side playing with cohesion, working their way up the field, no chemistry whatsoever. Just now and then Mckennie, Ramsey, Ronaldo, Dybala, Morata come together in a space and they make something happen. Building the play is a huge failing of the side. We seem to just get the ball to players with nobody else near them but opponents, and the rest of the side are sticking to movements which do not focus upon running into space.
Yes of course, we can make up ground in the table. It is unlikely we will fall too low as we have enough talent to win plenty of games against weaker opponents solely on moments of individual brilliance. Evidently however, we are not in a position to be anywhere near serious title contenders presently.
I am not suggesting Pirlo should be culled, but for some time now I have not seen any progress, far more regression and dissipation. And I am convinced that we have the wrong tactical system in place with a manager with only one tactical system and apparently no interest in changing it, or no idea of how to do so.
We could still mount a challenge and if we beat Napoli in our game in hand, we would be close enough to the top to take advantage of any slips by the Milanese clubs IF we were able to somehow find momentum. The problem is we struggle often against weaker sides and look even worse against well organised sides of anywhere near our strength, player for player.
Had we lost 6-0 I could have looked at the players individually and suggested we still had the stronger squad, even the stronger starting XI! That is the sign of a tactical shambles, and a side who are losing the enthusiasm to keep trying something which doesn’t work, hope that we can defend well enough and a moment of magic from our high class front line earns the points. It works much of the time, but over the course of a season the sides anywhere near us technically – with synergy, chemistry, momentum – will move above us. As has happened and is continuing to be seen of late…
Talking about transition is all well and good, but what are we transitioning towards?
Still, I believe we are a much better side than we are seeing, which I prefer to maintain offers hope of improvement.