Max De Luca – Everything Zen: Inter Walking Higher Path Under Luciano Spalletti
In the ancient art of zen meditation a few fortunate practitioners are able to obtain a brief glimpse of what lies on the other side. A sneak peek of what’s over the wall, a sudden flash of awareness; a spiritual awakening. This phenomenon is known as satori.
It’s the first step on the path of enlightenment. It can vary in duration but it’s usually a fleeting moment, one that stays with you for the rest of your life. It happens with no warning and gracefully destroys the remnants of your old self before triumphantly ushering in a new state of consciousness, which lays the foundation for a new transformation.
For 45 minutes against Sampdoria we were lucky enough to see Inter attain satori and it was a divine experience indeed. The Nerazzurri attacked the flanks with ruthless efficiency, interchanging positions at a dizzying pace and unleashed an unrelenting barrage that left the Samp defense punch drunk.
Milan Skriniar, the 22-year old veteran as I like to call him, was a calming presence in defense and opened the floodgates by poking the ball past Samp goalkeeper Christian Puggioni in the 18th minute. He respectfully refused to celebrate against his old club but that didn’t mean he wasn’t brimming with pride on the inside. The Slovakian center-back has been the steal of the summer so far.
The man of the moment – Mauro Icardi – broke the game open against his former team as he expertly volleyed home from 15 yards out in the 32nd minute before tapping in a sumptuous cross by Ivan Perisic in the 54th. Icardi should have netted his second consecutive hat-trick if not for his header bouncing straight off the post, but the damage was already done as Inter were up 3-0 before an hour was played and it really should have been more.
But as with most ephemeral moments of bliss, Inter eventually came crashing down to earth. The Nerazzurri reverted back to their old destructive ways in the final 30 minutes – conceding two goals – and had to hold off a spirited fightback by Sampdoria instead of cruising comfortably to the final whistle.
There’s a long way to go, but the Nerazzurri are on the right path under Luciano Spalletti’s guidance.
An old zen proverb reminds us that when the student is ready, the teacher appears. Spalletti worked wonders with Roma, leading the capital city club to their highest single-season points total in the 2016-17 campaign and is engineering an even more impressive turnaround at San Siro.
Last year at this time, Frank De Boer was on his way out the door after just 84 days in charge, Icardi was openly feuding with the Curva Nord and the club’s directors took every opportunity to throw each other under the bus.
Inter were experiencing a dark night of the soul and needed to snap out of their existential crisis. Spalletti has taught his pupils to drown out the excess noise. He’s brought equanimity to a chaotic concerto. He’s given Inter an identity and now everyone is dancing to the same beat.
He’s performed a minor miracle by bringing out the best in Antonio Candreva and Yuto Nagatomo. The Japanese international was given a well-deserved standing ovation after he was substituted in the 84th minute against the Blucerchiati while Candreva has been delivering the goods on a weekly basis and the Italian international has looked every bit the part of a top-class winger this season.
We were treated to a fleeting glimpse of Inter at their apex against Sampdoria and now we want more. We are eager for the Nerazzurri to take the next step in their transmogrification. It’s possible it could happen this season. All it takes is discipline, dedication and a bald, wily zen master to show them the way. In Spalletti we trust.
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.