SSC Napoli v FC Internazionale - Serie A

Inter suffers from bipolar disorder. It’s neither a closely guarded family secret nor is it worn as a badge of honour. It is simply so.

Living with the illness is like riding an emotional roller coaster in the theme park of life with bouts of euphoria (Inter’s 7-1 win against Atalanta) giving way to fits of depression (2-1 loss to Sampdoria).

Psychologists recommend sticking to a stringent routine to manage symptoms and to avoid sudden changes in day-to-day operations (Stefano Pioli’s decision to go with a three-man defence in February) as stopping medication/treatment/therapy (personnel changes in midfield) that has produced consisted results can lead to a relapse, often with disastrous results.

It’s not easy for anyone dealing with the illness as family, friends, coworkers and neighbours can suffer along with the afflicted person, but the disorder can be treated and in some cases defeated all together. It’s long, arduous journey and sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better as Interisti know all too well, especially in the last two weeks.

Inter’s 2-1 setback to Sampdoria on April 3, which dashed all hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, was deflating in itself, but the Nerazzurri’s loss to Crotone on Sunday by the same scoreline was downright exasperating.

The Calabrese club, who were 38 points behind Inter prior to kickoff, outplayed the disinterested Nerazzurri as they fully exposed the visitor’s ineptitude on the wings en route to a 2-0 halftime advantage. Inter were fortunate not to be three goals down at the interval, such was the level of incompetence in the first 45 minutes.

Inter was able to pull a goal back in the 65th minute through Danilo D’Ambrosio but the damage was already done as the Nerazzurri slumped to one of their most embarrassing defeats in recent memory.

Here’s what we learned from the shocking setback:

Inter Has Thrown In The Towel

Many Interisti were curious to see how Pioli’s men would respond after the setback to Sampdoria and the answer was not encouraging at all. The Nerazzurri were thoroughly outclassed by a team that will feature in Serie B in a few months and they are in an extremely fragile state heading into the city derby on the weekend.

Mauro Icardi has been anonymous for the last two weeks – aside from missing an open net from two-feet against Samp – and there is no viable backup when the Inter captain is misfiring.

Inter has gone from challenging for a Champions League place to likely missing out on Europe all together prompting director Piero Ausilio to hit out at the players calling the performance against Crotone “arrogant, superficial and unacceptable.”

The Nerazzurri Have A Crippling Lack Of Depth

Down two goals at halftime and desperately needing to add some firepower on the pitch Pioli summoned Rodrigo Palacio and Eder to rescue the points. Needless to say they were not up to the task even though the Italian international has been solid off the bench and did hit the post after coming on.

Palacio was never going to score against Crotone and Pioli’s decision to pick the ageing Argentine over €29.5 million summer signing Gabigol prompted a flurry of angry posts on social media.

The lack of options at fullback also came back to haunt Inter as D’Ambrosio and Cristian Ansaldi were major liabilities in the first 45 minutes. Crotone repeatedly gashed the Nerazzurri’s fullbacks to great effect and some proven commodities to patrol the flanks must arrive if Inter is going to take the next step in its quest to return amongst the Serie A elite.

Pioli Still Auditioning For Full Season

Fair or not Pioli is not guaranteed to come back for the 2017-18 campaign. Continuity is what Inter desperately needs but losing to Crotone and a potential loss in the derby could cripple Pioli’s chances of returning.

The Nerazzurri can’t keep firing managers, it’s not a blueprint to success but Pioli needs a strong finish to ensure he’s the man in charge at Appiano Gentile next season.

His recent decisions to tinker with the midfield have backfired and Pioli needs to stick with the formations that have garnered previous success if he is not survive the grueling three-game gauntlet against Milan, Fiorentina and Napoli coming up.

Where Art Thou Joao?

Joao Mario has been one of Inter’s most consistent performers this season but has been banished to the bench in recent weeks. Pioli’s refusal to play Ever Banega and the Portuguese international at the same time is befuddling to say the least.

I’m not sure if Joao Mario is in the doghouse or if he is not completely match fit but giving the Euro 2016 winner 10 minutes at the end of the games is not the most effective use of his talents.

Here’s to hoping the €45 million man regains favour with Pioli and the 24-year-old is allowed to show us the kind of skill that made him one of the hottest signings of the summer.

Max De Luca is a journalist based in Toronto, Canada and has been published on Reuters, CBC, Yahoo, Goal, USA Today and many more. Every week Max pens a column exclusively for SempreInter.com discussing the most pressing topics of the past week.

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