APPIANO GENTILE – Inter are set to play their final game of 2019 against Genoa at the Meazza on Saturday at 18:00 CET. Coach Antonio Conte spoke to the press at the Suning Training Centre on the eve of the matchday 17 clash and had the following to say:
“We had and still have one objective: to reach Christmas in the best possible way while remaining as high as possible. It’s been five months where, for many reasons, we’ve had to face big challenges. However, we’re dealing with them in the right manner. The group has taken responsibility and the players have understood that they need to increase the revs and give more.”
During this growth process, young players such as Agoumé and Esposito are also featuring: “They’ve had the chance to train with us: they’re young lads but have had the opportunity to make their debuts. They’re growing and have the potential to become part of Inter’s backbone for many years. I very much believe in them. I know that whoever takes to the pitch will always respond positively and show maximum commitment.”
On getting players back fit and the condition of the squad: “There’s still one training session left, we’ll assess things knowing that we were a bit short on cover anyway and, in addition to that, Brozovic and Lautaro are suspended. We’re in a bit of an emergency. We’ll deal with it safe in the knowledge that we’re giving our best, we’re sure that we’ll give our all to finish the year in the best way possible with the help of our fans. Sanchez is chomping at the bit to return, but the timetable put in place by the doctors needs to be respected. His injury was a blow, thankfully Lautaro and Lukaku have always been able to play and Esposito has developed.
“Finishing 2019 at the top of the table would be important for us and the whole atmosphere. I was very worried a while ago because we found ourselves in a situation where we were having to make forced choices, the same players were always playing and big risks were being taken. I said that we needed to reach Christmas in the best way possible. We’re almost there now and it’d be fantastic if we could manage to win against a Genoa side who need points in the league. They lost the derby but are a good team. We’ll take them on with our heads, hearts and legs.”
The Nerazzurri have lost once and drawn twice in their last three outings: “I’m very critical but also objective: we got less than what we deserved given what we did and gave. It’s not nice to talk about fortune or bad luck. During these three games, there were many situations which we could have fully taken advantage of. But at the end of the day, it’s the result which counts. I hope to see the same desire and intensity combined with a bit more attentiveness. Tomorrow, we need to be perfect to achieve victory.”
The aim of Inter’s journey is clear: “Right from the beginning, our objective was to become a credible team. Those who face us know that they’re going to be involved in a difficult game. We’ve started a journey and are putting in the work. We need to move forward and go beyond the difficulties that we’ve faced over the past few months. Patience is required. Sometimes, winning can deceive you. We want to build something big that lasts over the long term.”
Conte took stock of his first five and a half months at Inter: “The longer time goes on, the more I’m becoming immersed. We’ve worked a lot, but there’s also a personal aspect too: I knew about the new project, I knew that it wouldn’t all be in place straight away and that a building job would be required. With this in mind, the most important thing won’t so much be to win but to leave a mark, instilling a working culture, seriousness and professionalism throughout the environment in doing so. I liked the President’s ambition from the off, I’m lucky to be able to work with exceptional people.
“We’ve got a long way to go with our work. We’re working on concepts and time is needed to iron out the details which sometimes give you something extra. The journey is a great one, I’m seeing a lot of desire to work.