It’s hard to not to feel some sympathy with Inter boss Frank de Boer, appointed just before the start of the season. The latest issue he has to resolve–after falling out with Marcelo Brozovic and dropping Geoffrey Kondogbia–surrounds skipper Mauro Icardi, who incensed fans days after signing a new contract by criticizing them in his autobiography, Sempre Avanti, or Always Ahead.
So when Inter was awarded a penalty in Sunday’s home match against Cagliairi, the Ultras booed him before he even struck the ball. When his effort was saved, the Inter fans cheered. These are the fans whose banner in the stadium read: "You are not a man...You are not a captain...You are just a piece of s***.” Inter went on to lose the game 2-1.
The offending passage in the book focused on a run-in Icardi had with the fans after a defeat to Sassuolo in February 2015. There is one passage where he is alleged to write: “I’ll bring 100 criminals from Argentina who’ll kill them where they stand, then we’ll see.”
Before the Cagliari game, he apologized for any offense caused. “It’s true that in the book I spat out some exaggerated phrases… As for the issue of getting assassins from Argentina, as people continued to tell me that I would’ve found some hooligans under my house, I said that phrase. In the biography I also wrote that ‘I used threatening words towards the fans and I shouldn’t have done that… I look for you every time I score a goal, because I love Inter. I hope that you understand how important you are for me and Inter.'"
It's too late, though.
“We cannot accept this behavior from a person who works for our club,” said Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti, who said the question of the captaincy will be discussed this week.
The Ultras had their say: “You are finished with us. You're done. Take the armband off, you clown. Yes, that is what we demand.”
The next step could be decisive for De Boer: Icardi is one of the most talented players in this squad, and he has scored six of Inter’s nine league goals this season. He has to get him back on the side of the fans or face pressure to sell him in January, where there should be no shortage of suitors.