MILAN – Sky Sport 24, the 24-hour Italian sports news channel, has been on air since 30 August 2008. 1000 days have passed since then and today the channel is celebrating its anniversary with contributions from some of the protagonists of the world of sport in Italy. One of the special features is the exclusive interview given by president Massimo Moratti to Andrea Paventi, which will be broadcast throughout the course of the day.
Here on inter.it you can read the complete transcript of the president's interview.
President Moratti, what do you think about the idea of a 24-hour sports news service?
"I think it's great idea. We were already used to the concept of round-the-clock news thanks to Sky Tg 24. It was perhaps a bit more risky with sport but I've heard of lots of people who keep their TV on your channel all the time and only look at what is going on in the rest of the country later. I think its success is down to the rhythm and the variety, as well as the quality of the news."Which Sky Sport 24 news story has given you the most pleasure to "read"?
"As an Interista, I naturally enjoy "reading" anything about Inter's successes. I also like the fact that they nearly always manage to guess which players are transfer targets, especially the big ones. That's a sign of great professionalism."
Everything has been perfect in these 1000 days. What would you like to do all over again and what would you not repeat?
"We're talking about Inter and not Sky of course [smiling]. You do things because in that moment you think it's the right thing to do, or because you don't have any option, or because not doing it could lead to even greater problems. You choose what, looking forward, you think is the best thing. If you're referring to the change of coach between Mourinho and Benitez, that too seemed like a wise choice at the time because the Spaniard is a very experienced coach and he came here and took over something that had been a huge success. Things didn't work out, so what seemed like a good choice at the time turned out to be a difficult union more than the wrong person."Choosing Rafael Benitez didn't seem like an instinctive choice, but one done out of necessity. Was part of it dictated by the need to find someone very different to José Mourinho?
"The pure and simple truth is that it wasn't easy to replace Mourinho. It really wasn't, because of what he had won and because of the way he had dominated the scene. That's why we looked for a coach with a different profile, different characteristics, but someone who was capable of doing well in our league. In the end we went for Benitez; it proved not to be the right choice so we ended our relationship."
Did you ever consider Leonardo for the job last summer? Was he on the list of possible candidates?
"In terms of characteristics, he certainly had what we were after and if I had found another coach with the same characteristics it would have been great. But at the time Leonardo preferred to have, not a holiday as such, but a break from coaching. I heard he was going to England and I don't think it would have been fair to anyone, AC Milan included, to do something like that. It wouldn't have been fair to Leonardo either, because I would have been going against a decision he had taken at that time. But those same characteristics remained dear to me and, when the time came around again, I felt they were the exact characteristics needed to bring some serenity back to this club. And that's precisely what then happened. Leonardo has done what I expected of him and perhaps even more than that."From 2005 to today, Inter have won one less trophy than Barcelona. Do you think this achievement might have been a bit undervalued?
"Certainly not by the Inter fans! Maybe by the press, a little, but more than undervalued I'd say that here in Italy we're always caught up in debate, controversy and one-upmanship, so lauding one club too much would mean creating a national imbalance. Outside of Italy I think that Inter is seen for what it has achieved. As Italians, we're always more interested in talking about the future and what could happen."
Will you need to see the result of the Coppa Italia final to give Inter's season a mark?
"This team is the same one that has won everything over the last five years and everybody has played their part. I can say in all honesty that I'm proud of every one of them, and people will talk about this side for years to come. One result certainly couldn't take away everything they have built up with their enthusiasm, their hard work, their ambition, their motivation, which have been created time and time again, with different coaches, because everybody remembers Mourinho but there have been Mancini, Benitez and now Leonardo too. In that sense it won't change anything, but winning another trophy is important - for the history of this club."How important will winning the Coppa Italia be for Leonardo?
"For him it will certainly be important, considering everything he's had to do and learn since arriving, getting to know how things work – I'm talking about settling in at the club, not learning the job. And it's harder at Inter than in other places because you're given less credit for what you achieve, at least that's the impression you get from the media. He came in the middle of a difficult moment and he has responded well so he deserves to win this trophy. I think it's important to him; it's very important to all of us and it's important to Palermo. I think we should expect a tough game because it's ten times more important to Palermo."
If Leonardo does manage to win the Coppa Italia, will he be given a contract extension?
"Leonardo is not the sort of person to ask for such things. But you've given me an idea now so I'll think about it... [smiling]"
How do you see the Inter
team of the future? Does it need reshaping, rejuvenating?
"Before answering that question, I think you have to look at what this group has done up till now. It's an excellent team, with excellent individuals, and you can see that in any game. In my opinion this is the best team there is. Naturally, you need to think about whether each player, on an individual level, can keep finding the right motivation. That's why you need to bring in a few new faces, people whose motivation rubs off on the others, though we mustn't forget how thoroughly professional every member of this group is. I'm sure these lads will always find their own motivation, but you do need to freshen things up a bit with players who are the right age to form part of a longer-term project. And nowadays everyone has to pay a bit more attention to their finances to ensure the club can always be involved in the Champions League, even a few years down the line."
If Inter can reach an agreement with Udinese, could Alexis Sanchez – considering the ability he has – be put on a par with some of president Moratti's other big signings, such as Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic?
"I'll talk about Sanchez because we've already spoken about Pastore, even though saying good things about other clubs' players tends to upset presidents. Honestly, I rate Sanchez very highly and it's no secret that we're speaking to Udinese to try and work something out, but I do believe the player still has a bit to prove: I think when Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic joined us they were a few notches further up. The thing is, we're starting off with valuations for players who have already won everything. I think the current transfer market is a bit over the top in that sense."
Some people are saying it all depends on Inter because the Nerazzurri club have players to exchange who could convince Udinese to part with Sanchez. Is that right?
"People are talking about the ongoing negotiations with Udinese, and we certainly are interested in Sanchez, but we're also looking at other players. I think we're very strong in attack and I don't think that's one of the areas we'll be trying to strengthen particularly. Any good deal is welcome - by all means, let's bring in a few more quality players - but not at excessive prices."
Could the present for your son's birthday in October be Eden Hazard?
"No, my son who keeps reminding me that he is a fantastic player was born in January, so I could wait for a few months before buying him... [smiling] I repeat that I only named Hazard that time because I was finally hearing him mentioned publicly and not just at home. For sure he has a great future ahead of him and I'm also sure that with this chat we're having about him his value will increase by another 5 million..."
What annoyed you more this season: AC Milan winning the Scudetto, Juventus' appeal for Inter to have the 2006 Scudetto revoked or something else?
"I'm sure there must be something else but my memory fails me on these things. I get angry about lots of things, but then I get over it and I forget why I was angry in the first place. Milan's win didn't feel like a slight to me; they won the Scudetto deservedly. Of course I'm upset that Inter didn't win it but I think it's all part of the order of the day – it was something Milan deserved so it didn't annoy me at all. As for Juventus' appeal, it's not the act in itself that annoys me, but rather the frequency with which it's talked about. Am I as anxious to the hear the verdict as Juventus are? No, because I maintain what I have always maintained. I think it's only natural to get annoyed about repeated requests like that but you get used to it in the end. One thing that could become very annoying is the fact that the various club presidents are unable to agree amongst themselves within the Lega Calcio. It's not only the issue in question - we are talking about sharing out money, after all – but because it means the Lega is incapable of coming up with something innovative in football. This whole thing means the Lega is failing to do something that should be one of its prerogatives: to innovate, whether it be through imitation or new ideas; because football is in constant development and you need to be able to react to that development."Who are we more likely to see - or see again - in the Inter dugout sooner: Pep Guardiola or José Mourinho?
"Right now I'm not thinking about that. Mourinho is a story unto himself. For example, the fact that we all feel sad, offended and somehow involved when somebody insults him – even though he is not in Milan anymore but in Madrid – means that he didn't only leave the trophies and his success here, but also affection and popularity. It's as if although he is working elsewhere he is still here. As for Inter's future, we need to focus on fresh faces and Leonardo has that freshness needed to build a great Inter team."Could there be any illustrious returns in the future? Ibrahimovic or Mario Balotelli?
"Balotelli's attitude is getting better and he's definitely a player who will be very successful, but I think it's unlikely he or Ibrahimovic will return to Inter."
When will we see on Sky Sport 24 the headline "Inter sign Messi"?
"[smiling] If that were to happen, and even if it wasn't Inter signing him, I would remember it as one of Sky Sport 24's best moments."