APPIANO GENTILE – Tomorrow is Erick Thohir's first game at the San Siro and lots of former Nerazzurri players will gather for the occasion after being invited by the new president. Walter Mazzarri was asked in his pre-match press conference how he's been preparing the team for the match considering these special circumstances. He coach began: "Football is entertainment so it's a good thing if it generates enthusiasm at the stadium. But at the end of the day it's what the players and I do on the pitch that matters, whether we win or lose. We mustn't get distracted by the other things going on."
The coach continued: "So far our performances have been by and large very good, although we've dropped points along the way because of mistakes we've made, and we'd do very well to bear that in mind tomorrow. We must look to remove the negatives aspects of our display against Bologna to make sure we don't drop any more points. Sampdoria are a fine team, they deserved to win last week, so we must be on our toes."
Asked what it was like to be facing his former club, Mazzarri stressed that he was very fond of the Blucerchiati but now he's at Inter. He also took the opportunity to set the record straight over the way he was quoted in a recent interview: "I gave an interview this week in which I spoke about the excellent relationship I have with everyone at Samp. I spent two wonderful years there and grew a lot as a coach during that time. But I'd like to make it clear that the title they put on the interview ['My dear Samp, I'm going to beat you'] was not my words. I didn't say 'I'm going to beat you'. You never know what's going to happen when a match kicks off and I'm not the sort of person who comes out with such bold statements anyway. Besides anything else, Sampdoria are a tricky, dangerous side who have been given a new lease of life under Mihajlovic - an excellent coach. We'll see what happens tomorrow."
As usual, there were some questions about the transfer market and, as always, Mazzarri refused to be drawn on the matter: "I won't talk about transfers but I can say that we have four important games before the January window, three at home and the trip to Napoli. These four games will tell us a lot about where we're going and afterwards we'll be able to start assessing things."
Talk then turned to the Nerazzurri line-up we might expect to see against Sampdoria tomorrow, with the coach asked about a number of players in particular.
He replied: "Zanetti could start tomorrow but it's quite possible that he hasn't got the full 90 minutes in him. He hasn't started a game for a long time so if he does play I'll have to consider that a substitution is likely at some point. I'll make a late decision on whether to go with him from the off or bring him on during the match.
"Will Rolando keep his place? The bibs you see on the players during the week in training," Mazzarri replied with a smile, "are on the players who started the previous game. Ranocchia played well before his suspension, on the right as well, so we'll have to see who plays, I don't know yet.
"Is Palacio tired? Rodrigo had a few chances against Bologna that he would normally put away but I didn't think he looked tired. I expect he'll be in top shape tomorrow.
"Has Pereira been discarded? He came on for Nagatomo against Bologna so nobody has been discarded. It's the same thing as when I hear people say that Kovacic isn't playing... if Kovacic plays, another player has to sit out, it's the same thing there.
"Icardi? For the time being he's not training with the group because he's been operated on. His private life? I've already given my thoughts on that with some general advice: if he wants to play at the very highest level he should look at people like Milito and Zanetti. I'd rather not go into it in any more detail than that.
"Campagnaro? He showed before his injury just what a useful player he can be. Now I have to get him back to his best form by playing him. I expect even more from him. If he's fit, I expect he'll start tomorrow."