It’s been a minute since we checked in with Serpents of the Madonnina’s David McFarland. It’s been quite a summer for him, not least because the self-described “Udinese enjoyer” has lost his beloved Beto to the Premier League, but he still took some time out of his scheduled mourning to answer a bunch of Inter Milan questions for us.
Viola Nation: Inter’s had a mercato that’s been as wild as Fiorentina’s, what with Romelu Lukaku being a numpty. Now that the dust has settled, what’s your assessment of the team? Is it better than last year?
David McFarland: The team has added depth and much needed youth, but it’s definitely lost some star power with the exits of Andre Onana, Milan Skriniar, Marcelo Brozovic, and Romelu Lukaku and Edin Dzeko up front. Some of the new signings are major question marks - Yann Bisseck and Marcus Thuram especially - and the latter in particular will be very important to how successful Inter is. The Nerazzurri’s biggest move, though, might have come just Wednesday with the arrival of Benjamin Pavard from Bayern Munich, the perfect Skriniar replacement on paper. After the failure to sign Lukaku, Gianluca Scamacca, and Lazar Samardzic, a big signing was needed and Pavard fits the bill perfectly.
VN: What are Inter’s goals this year? Is another Champions League final realistic? Is another scudetto? A Kristjan Asllani sighting?
DM: A Champions League would be about as likely as seeing Inzaghi play the Albanian for more than five minutes, but I digress. The Scudetto is the target, as despite the cup success, Inter hasn’t lifted the big one yet under Inzaghi. I’m not sure if there’s enough top-end talent for that to happen, but that’s the bar this season.
VN: Speaking of Inzaghi, when he first arrived, he seemed to keep most of Antonio Conte’s approach intact. Over the past year, though, he definitely began branching out a bit. Are you expecting any new tactical wrinkles from the mister this year, or is it going to be more of the same?
DM: Inzaghi has made it clear he has his own possession-based, easy on the eye style of football and is almost as dedicated to it as Conte is to his. The departures of Onana and Brozovic will mean he has to improvise a bit, however, as playing out of the back will be a good deal harder without their technical skills. Marcus Thuram is also a very different presence up front compared to Dzeko or Lukaku, but at the end of the day Inzaghi won’t make anything more than surface changes unless there’s an extreme circumstance.
VN: Are there any Fiorentina players you’re particularly worried about? Any you’re particularly excited about seeing? Y’know, aside from having Denzel Dumfries dunk all over Biraghi at the back post.
DM: Nico Gonzalez is pretty dang good and fun to watch, but that’s a little too obvious of an answer. Lucas Beltran is a very intriguing signing and he and Gino Infantino don’t fit the bill of the average Serie A signing in a good way.
VN: Prediction time: What’s the score, who gets the goals, and what’s the outline of the game?
DM: I’ll go with a 2-1 Inter win with goals from Lautaro and Thuram for the hosts and Nico Gonzalez for the visitors after a back-and-forth 90 minutes.