International

Spalletti takes reins at embattled Inter

2017-06-09 19:47
Luciano Spalletti (Supplied)

Milan - Inter Milan on Friday announced the appointment of former Roma coach Luciano Spalletti on a two-year deal as they target a long-awaited return to the Champions League.

"F.C. Internazionale is delighted to announce that Luciano Spalletti has been appointed as head coach of the first team," said a statement by the Serie A giants.

"The new coach, who has signed a two-year contract, will be unveiled at a media conference at Suning Training Centre in memory of Angelo Moratti next Wednesday."

After yet another underwhelming season that saw Inter dismiss Roberto Mancini, Frank De Boer then Stefano Pioli on their way to missing out on a place in Europe, Spalletti has the task of leading the once-mighty 'Nerazzurri' - treble winners in 2010 under Jose Mourinho - back to the hallowed terrain of the Champions League for the first time since 2012.

Before his official unveiling next week, he said: "I'm very enthusiastic to have joined this great family of Inter.

"Having the weight of expectation from millions of fans could be seen as a burden. But I see it as a challenge, one that I will approach with plenty of energy.

"We have a lot of work to do, and it has to be done seriously and professionally. We need to improve. And we need this team to be producing results worthy of Inter."

Given his track record, fans can have reason for optimism.

Spalletti recently led Roma to runners-up spot in Serie A on his second spell at the capital club. Although trophy-less this time around, he is considered one of the top coaches in Italy.

A former player with Udinese, Spalletti returned to the northern club as coach in 2002 and helped them qualify for the UEFA Cup.

In 2004/05 he went one better, secured Champions League football for the first time in the club's history. On that occasion, Udinese failed to get past the group stages, notably after defeats to Barcelona.

Spalletti subsequently moved to Roma, and steered the Francesco Totti-inspired side to two Italian Cups and one Italian Super Cup, feats which led to him being voted Coach of the Year by the Italian Footballers' Association in 2006 and 2007.

His magic also rubbed off on Zenit St Petersburg, whom he led to two Russian Premier League titles, a Russian Cup and a Super Cup in a four-year spell before returning to the Roma dugout in January 2016 as replacement for sacked Frenchman Rudi Garcia.

After a third-place Serie A finish in 2016, Roma finished only four points behind champions Juventus. Next season, Serie A's Champions League allocation is increased from three to four spots and Inter's statement added: "During his 18-month second spell in the capital, Spalletti averaged 2.33 points per game."

Inter, who saw angry fans turn on underperforming players on several occasions throughout last season, sacked Pioli with three games remaining but finished seventh, one point behind city rivals AC Milan and a Europa League place.

Inter last played in Europe's premier club competition in 2012 when a side coached by Claudio Ranieri were ousted by Marseille in the last 16.

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