Inter ultras walk out as winless skid hits 8; Conte to the rescue?

AP Photo/Antonio Calanni

ROME (AP) If Antonio Conte really does leave newly crowned English Premier League champion Chelsea for Inter Milan, he’s going to be charged with pulling off quite a turnaround.

Inter’s crisis deepened with a 2-1 loss at home to Sassuolo on Sunday that extended its winless streak to eight matches and included a walkout by its most ardent supporters.

Twenty minutes in with the score 0-0 during the lunchtime fixture, hard-core “ultra” fans unfurled a banner that read, “Since you don’t deserve our support, today we’re saluting you and going to eat.” The “ultras” then exited the San Siro stadium while the remaining fans applauded.

Inter’s fourth straight loss came in the first match since Stefano Pioli was fired and youth team coach Stefano Vecchi was put in charge. The Nerazzurri have not won since March.

Pietro Iemmello scored twice for Sassuolo before substitute Eder pulled one back for Inter.

The loss left Inter eighth and likely out of the Europa League places.

“I understand the fans,” Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic said. “I’ve been here for five years and I always see the same situations. They’re right. Inter shouldn’t be seventh or eighth like it’s been for five years. Patience can only last so long. … This is the worst moment since I’ve been here.”

Inter has not finished better than fourth since coming runner-up in 2011.

Vecchi is Inter’s fourth coach since August, when Roberto Mancini resigned surprisingly weeks before the season started. Frank de Boer guided the club until November, when Pioli was hired.

Conte is reportedly considering taking over Inter for next season.

“Right now there’s a situation and environment of great negativity which can also be felt on the pitch,” Vecchi said. “It’s normal that there’s a protest like this. The squad shouldn’t be in eighth place so it’s normal that the fans express their disappointment.”