Antonio Conte does not deserve to be labelled a ‘defensive’ coach, according to former Juventus midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini.
Inter’s head coach has received criticism in certain sections of the media for his cautious approach in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Sassuolo.
Giaccherini played under Conte at Juventus and for the Italian national team and leapt to his former boss’s defence on Friday.
“Conte’s 3-5-2 system is more like 3-3-4,” Giaccherini, who now plays for ChievoVerona in Serie B, explained in an interview for Gazzetta dello Sport’s print edition.
“His wing-backs are extra forwards who interpret their positions in an attacking manner.
“What does ‘defensive coach’ even mean, anyway?
“Does that mean other winners like Max Allegri and Jose Mourinho should be seen as defensive too?
“The reality is that every coach has his own way of playing football in order to win.”
Inter recorded just 30% possession against Sassuolo at San Siro, their lowest ever total in a Serie A game since Opta began collecting such data in 2004.
But Giaccherini argued the Nerazzurri were not doing anything that Juventus hadn’t already done during their nine-year period of dominance in Serie A.
“Inter played like a provincial side, exactly like Juventus have done often in the last nine seasons,” he said.
“If you want to overtake Juventus you have to approach even the games against smaller teams with humility, but it would be unfair to only focus on Wednesday.
“Inter have dominated a lot of games this season and they always create loads.
“It doesn’t matter much if you only had 30% possession against Sassuolo, what matters is you took three points.
“They’re worth just as much as the three points you got against Juventus (in January), in a game Inter completely dominated.”
Giaccherini also had words of praise for two of Conte’s midfielders at Inter, Nicolo Barella and Christian Eriksen.
“Barella is the closest thing to me in this Inter team, but he’s much better than me,” he admitted.
“Inter’s entire team is familiar though, they’re playing with all the hallmarks of a Conte side.
“The forwards try to link up with each other, the midfielders make forward runs and the wing-backs push forward to play almost as attackers.
“Inter have the variant of Christian Eriksen though, because Conte didn’t have a player like him either at Juventus or with Italy.
“We had runners in midfield whereas Eriksen is a no. 10 who’s adapted to that position.
“Conte has moulded and changed him; Eriksen has adjusted to his style of play now and you can see the results.”
Inter are 11 points clear at the top of Serie A after a run of 10 straight wins.