Inter lost their fifth game of the season on Sunday evening, going down 1-0 to a Sampdoria side that began proceedings in bright fashion, with Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes and striker Luis Muriel's direct running giving the back line headaches. The Nerazzurri did react towards the end of the half: Marcelo Brozovic sent a header wide and a brilliant Eder run nearly teed up Mauro Icardi for the opener. Just as Inter looked like they would return to the dressing room on a high, Sampdoria struck, Fabio Quagliarella making the most of some uncoordinated defending to put a clinical finish beyond Samir Handanovic.
Frank De Boer's men showed some early signs of life in the second half but were too inaccurate and casual in possession to ever present a consistent threat, the team appearing increasingly stretched. Icardi himself sent a plum header wide while substitute Rodrigo Palacio somehow missed the leveller from less than a yard out.
It's good to have the old Brozovic back, though having another creative (if more dynamic) player in an unbalanced midfield will no doubt force De Boer to make some difficult choices. The wingers also looked very active while Ivan Perisic should be benched more often, seeing as he reacts well when he is brought on.
Inter look horrendously rigid: the central midfielders don't lend much of a hand when the ball passes their line and they don't seem to be able to support the attack, either. When Inter do get forward, they immediately expose themselves to lethal counters, which nobody seems capable of stopping. Gary Medel may not be the solution but playing without a destroyer seems foolish at present. Inter's reaction became more feeble as the game went on.
Manager rating out of 10
3 -- Frank De Boer's tactics just aren't working at the moment. Though this is clearly a learning curve for him, surely he should have the flexibility to abandon his principles when it is clear that the game is going wrong? Surely he could make his first sub before the 76th minute? Why have loads of crosses from the wings when his midfield can't press hard for long or protect the defence from counters? Then again, someone who hasn't had a preseason needs time, not the derisive mockery of many pundits.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Samir Handanovic, 6 -- Made three nice saves and was blameless for the goal but gives fans the jitters with his clearances and once failed to react as a free-kick sailed right onto his right foot, reacting only then to punch it away.
DF, Cristian Ansaldi, 5 -- Charged down the right like a bull, albeit one that had had its horns removed. It resulted in most of his 10 crosses going off-target, some miles away from where they were supposed to go. Sold a dummy by Quagliarella on Sampdoria's opener.
DF Joao Miranda, 5 -- Looked shaky when passing the ball, something De Boer asked of him. Should this really be his job, though? Hard to rate him lower when he was left alone to face rampaging opponents.
DF Jeison Murillo, 6 -- Has a good nose for anticipation and for trapping opponents offside. Also saved Inter with a heck of a lunge in the second half.
DF Davide Santon, 5 -- Less proactive than Ansaldi but was at least more accurate in his passing. Did a reasonable job in defence and shouldn't be blamed as much as his Argentine colleague for the opener.
MF Marcelo Brozovic, 7 -- Really got going after a slow start, his incisive runs into the box allowing him to clip the bar and head just wide in the first half, while his drifting to the right saw him work well with Candreva and Ansaldi, and led to his lovely assist to Icardi... which the Argentine squandered. This is #EpicBrozo.
MF Joao Mario, 5 -- He's quite obviously a class player and pulled the strings cleverly in the first half when he had less space to cover, also pressing very well. Struggled in the second as he clearly isn't the kind of midfielder who can shield a defence by himself, nor indeed receive balls in positions where the opposition circle him like a pack of sharks.
MF Ever Banega, 5 -- Very similar to Joao Mario with the added problem that he was stationed on the left and asked to hold his position, which really isn't what his strong suit. Crafted some stunning passes when given the ball, even nutmegging an opponent in one particular head-to-head battle. Vanished in the second half when he had to suddenly cover more space.
MF Eder, 7 -- His runs alone were worth the entrance price though he had the irritating tendency to sky his shots. Crossed well for Icardi, ran Jacopo Sala ragged and dribbled very cleverly.
FW Mauro Icardi, 5 -- Unresponsive on a couple of crosses and missed a glorious chance to head Inter level. One can understand his frustration at the poor service, and the fact that he works hard for the team despite what appear to be quite clear orders from De Boer to stay in the box. Lost Edgar Barreto on a first-half corner, but was saved by the post.
MF Antonio Candreva, 7 -- Showed far more composure than last week, often finding Ansaldi with some beautifully weighted passes. Accurate with his long-distance shooting and also took opponents on with far more discernment. A good response.
FW Rodrigo Palacio, 4 -- The footballing equivalent of Cinderella keeping her pumpkin after marrying Prince Charming, and wheeling it out of the garage every now despite possessing a brand new Rolls Royce. How on earth did he miss that chance?
MF Ivan Perisic, 6 -- Created the chance that the aforementioned Palacio wasted.