APPIANO GENTILE - It’s time to go again for the Nerazzurri, as the team prepare for their return to action after the Christmas break. On Monday at 20:45 CET, Inter will face Napoli on matchday 18 in Serie A TIM at the Stadio San Paolo, with Coach Antonio Conte today holding his pre-match press conference at the Suning Training Centre.
“I returned to find the lads rested but with the right desire and determination. I’m pleased as a tough match immediately awaits us in Naples. We must pay them plenty of attention. Napoli are a great side with a lot of quality in their squad. We’ll need to put in a top performance in what is a tricky away fixture. Getting a result at the San Paolo would give us even more confidence after how well we’ve done so far. We’re joint-top thanks to the hard work that we’ve put in. Only by keeping up this work rate can we continue on our journey.
“We overcame some real difficulties during the first half of the season and nobody expected to see us sitting first in the league. The path that we’ve taken is the right one. Our desire is to achieve satisfaction, giving our all to make the fans happy.”
As for his counterpart at the San Paolo, this fixture will see Conte take on Gennaro Gattuso for the first time in his coaching career: “Like me, he has a great passion for football, he’s paid his dues and earned this opportunity to coach Napoli. His work at Milan was perhaps undervalued. He has real spirit and motivation, while he knows how to transmit energy through to his teams.”
Returning back to the Nerazzurri’s league campaign so far, Conte explained his team’s current circumstances: “We’ve gained credibility gradually, but now we must achieve consistency and stability. Step by step we must keep raising the bar and looking further forward. We’ll keep working in the same manner that we’ve done so far. It’s true that we’ve overcome certain obstacles, but these have called the team into action and everyone has played their part. We’ve improved while also responding with many different solutions. The players understood what was needed, both on the field and in terms of our mentality.”
Lastly, Conte was quizzed about the transfer market: “The gap with those who have won so much in recent years is important - you cannot fill it by waving a magic wand. Obviously, we’ll seek to improve the situation, step by step through daily work and with the help of the Club, looking to become stronger. However, nobody gifts you anything. My task is to get the best out of the players at my disposal. As a Club, we’ve made some assessments after the first six months, but they know best and will do the best for Inter. The aim is to keep running, possibly even faster.”