PINZOLO – From Pinzolo Andrea Stramaccioni was hosted on Sky Italia's "Speciale Calciomercato" programme this evening.
The first topic discussed in the studio with journalists Alessandro Bonan and Gianluca Di Marzio was Philippe Coutinho. The Nerazzurri coach gave his view of the Brazilian: "He's one of the most talented players we have at Inter. Sometimes we forget he's only 20 years old. I think the time he spent in Spain [on loan at Espanyol] has helped him to mature and he's become an important player for us."
It was announced this afternoon that Inter and Andrea Poli had not been able to reach an agreement to continue their relationship. So what does Paulinho have that Poli doesn't? "At the moment neither is an Inter player," Stramaccioni replied. "They're both young midfielders, one of whom I know well. My admiration for Andrea is nothing new. But of course there are market trends that depend neither on Poli nor on the coach. Negotiations didn't go as the two clubs had hoped, but that's fairly normal when doing transfer dealings."
The topic then switched to Giampaolo Pazzini, a player whose stock is too high for him to be considered as mere backup for Milito but who is not involved in the Nerazzurri's new tactical setup: "I think that first and foremost he's a top-class striker," Stramaccioni explained. "The choice president Moratti was referring to yesterday is one based on technical and tactical considerations; in that sense I have no problem admitting that my first choice in attack is Diego Milito. On the basis of that choice, Inter are free to weigh up their transfer market options. As I've said before, Inter comes before anything else. I'm the first person who has to weigh things up, of course."
What about taking that step up from the Primavera dugout to the first team? Was there any fear there? "There's never been any fear. My main concern is to repay our amazing fans and of course president Moratti for their faith in me. Fear is not a word that I like to associate with sport. I don't think there's a secret or a winning formula; what instils me with confidence is being myself. I just take onto the pitch the things I know how to do and I think that is what prompted the president to make this choice. There's no secret other than being yourself and saying what you think.
"No, I don't have a single appearance in Serie A, and that's a great regret of mine, as I left home with the dream of becoming a footballer. But, clearly, things were supposed to turn out differently. Looking back, I can't deny that I was sad to leave Roma but then I got the chance to see Inter and the first team 'from below'. So I was able to get to know people and places without anyone imagining that I might one day make it to the first team."
What aspect of coaching does Stramaccioni focus on most? "Hard work is definitely the common denominator; trying to make sure you leave nothing to chance. I also consider myself to be quite observant and I try to create the best conditions possible for my players to be able to express themselves. That's where a coach has to be smart – in trying to make the players feel comfortable on the pitch."
Is 4-2-3-1 only possible if there's a player like Zanetti or Obi behind Milito? "My dream is to have three attack-minded players, but of course a team has to be able to cope with that and find the right balance. I don't really like talking about numbers because I believe the most important thing is the idea the team takes onto the pitch; a team must have a clear identity." Could Lucas be one of those three players? "Lucas? There's no one in our squad by that name."What about Stramaccioni's relationship with television and the TV cameras? "I have my own way of seeing things, I'm obsessed with the way I organise the team, but sport is also about smiles, joy, a joke or two when the time is right, because otherwise it all gets too serious. Maybe it's because I'm new, but work is work. I don't associate a smile with a happy moment or a long face with a defeat. All I'm saying is that at the right time – be it in training or at any other time – a smile can be a good thing."
Stramaccioni ended by answering a sequence of rapid-fire questions about Inter's transfer business: "Confident we'll get Lucas? No, not really. Paulinho? I honestly don't know if he's a real target for us. Mudingayi? An interesting player. He's considering his position and that has stemmed our initial interest a little. If Cissokho replaced Maicon? I think one plays on the right, the other on the left; I don't see a direct link between the two. Is Debuchy better? Yes, maybe he is. Is Sneijder staying? For me he is. I know he's staying and I haven't heard anything different. Moratti has said the Russian interest in Sneijder is a risk? I think if you look at the situation with Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva you have to say that to a certain extent it's true for everyone: apart from Cordoba and Zanetti, they are all for sale [smiling]. Ranocchia? He's played games under me, he's a defender I want here and I've specifically asked that he should remain at Inter."