"We just have to wait patiently," FC Internazionale Milano coach Claudio Ranieri kept repeating in December during centre-forward Diego Milito's long goal drought – and appropriately good things have now come.
The Argentinian international's winner in Sunday's 1-0 derby defeat of AC Milan was the third straight game in which he has scored. "Three clues are evidence," wrote Gazzetta dello Sport. "The Prince is back."
Fifth-placed Internazionale are just six points behind leaders Juventus, having been fourth from bottom on 29 October. They have been aided by the return to form of Milito, who in his first season at the club in 2009/10 scored 22 times in Serie A as well as both goals in the UEFA Champions League final success against FC Bayern München. However, this term he did not register in the league between 24 September and 21 December, missing some, in his own words, "easy goals".
That is in the past, however. "I'm very happy because we defeated very strong opponents," said Milito after Sunday's "away" win at San Siro. "
We knew it was very difficult, an important test for us. Winning the derby is always special and I dedicate this goal to the fans who always supported me even when I was missing easy goals.
"Now we have to keep calm and focused as we did when things were not going our way," the 32-year-old continued. "However we were excellent tonight, we tried not to give them space and attacked when we had the chance. We played this derby as if it were a final."
Ranieri, his faith rewarded, said: "I'm delighted for Milito because he never gave up even when he was missing incredible opportunities." The coach, who replaced Gian Piero Gasperini in September after the Nerazzurri's worst-ever start in Serie A, added: "Brick after brick, we are trying to build a big house,"
That house is taking shape after six straight wins with only one goal conceded – with the 'Tinkerman' now known as 'Mr Fix-it'. After all, Ranieri has done this before: taking over at AS Roma in 2009/10 with his side 14 points adrift of Inter and leading them to the top with four games remaining, only to be pipped at the post.
I can't say we would be in a different position had I joined Inter earlier this season, maybe we would not have such a strong relationship with the players if we hadn't faced so many difficulties together," Ranieri said. "Now there is great karma and self-belief."
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