Inter in crisis and sliding down the table

In this photo taken on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, Inter Milan's Yuto Nagatomo controls the ball during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Torino, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. On a relatively quiet transfer deadline day in Italy, the bigger news was the players leaving the country. Brazilian defender Emerson Palmieri moved to Chelsea from Roma in a deal worth up to 29 million euros while Japan and Inter Milan defender Yuto Nagatomo joined Galatasaray on loan until the end of the season. Roma immediately replaced Emerson with Argentina left back Jonathan Silva, who joined on loan from Sporting Lisbon until the end of the season with the Giallorossi having the option to make the deal permanent. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) Two months is a long time in football and Inter Milan know that more than most after having experienced one of its worst slumps in recent history.

Inter crushed Chievo Verona 5-0 on Dec. 3 to move to the top of the table and, at that stage, there was optimism in the Nerazzurri camp under new coach Luciano Spalletti.

However, Inter hasn’t won in the league since then, drawing five matches and losing the other two to slide to fourth, 13 points behind leader Napoli.

Inter was also eliminated from the Italian Cup by fierce rival AC Milan.

The team’s main problems are in attack, having scored just four times in the past nine matches.

Inter forward Ivan Perisic has not scored since his hat trick against Chievo while captain Mauro Icardi has only found the net twice since that match.

The club failed to sign a striker during the January transfer window, bringing in defender Lisandro Lopez and midfielder Rafinha. Talks over Paris Saint-Germain forward Javier Pastore broke down on deadline day.

”We did what we could,” Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio said.

On the bid to sign Pastore, he said: ”Our requirements on the loan deal didn’t match up with PSG’s requests, it was clear there wasn’t the basis for negotiation.

”We’re aiming to get back into the Champions League and the pitch will give its judgment on our transfer dealings. At the moment we’re in line with the aims for this season but we can’t be satisfied.”

Inter looks set to fight it out with Lazio and Roma for the final two spots in the Champions League and it sits between the two capital clubs in the table.

Roma is five points behind Inter but Spalletti will hope to end his team’s miserable run when they host relegation-threatened Crotone on Sunday.

Inter could only manage a draw last weekend at 18th-place Spal – which is two points below Crotone – and will likely be without Icardi, who has a thigh strain.

It will be an emotional return to the San Siro for Crotone coach Walter Zenga who spent 12 seasons in Inter’s first team.

”We’re going to play on a marvelous pitch, in an enormous and beautiful stadium, and for me it will be even more complicated because of my feelings,” said the former Italy goalkeeper.

”I will greet the fans before and after the match, whatever the result. That is my stadium, that was part of my life, that club is my life and I am sure the Inter fans will appreciate for 90 minutes that I will give my all for Crotone.”