APPIANO GENTILE - On the eve of the Nerazzurri’s first competitive match of the season, with Inter facing Fiorentina at San Siro at 20:45 CEST, the Club’s CEO Giuseppe Marotta took questions from journalists, in a joint press conference with Coach Antonio Conte. He started by expressing his gratitude for the work carried out by healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 crisis:
“The season that’s about to begin is an outlier: one the one hand, because of the schedule, because last season finished only a few weeks ago, because everything was affected by the pandemic. For this reason, our thoughts go out to all the doctors and healthcare professionals who have made this trying time that little bit easier with their unwavering professionalism. The public health crisis has had a dramatic impact on our families and on their business activities. Football can be a beacon of hope, and we hope that Inter can continue to bring joy to the lives of all our fans.”
The transfer window will be closing on 5 October: What are your thoughts on our business so far, and are there other signings in the pipeline?
“The Club’s task is to put together the best squad possible with the financial resources we have available to us. The pandemic has created real problems, and that also applies to our finances. There’s been a real discussion about our financial sustainability: we’ve got to manage the situation carefully. It’s only to be expected that teams in Europe haven’t been pouring as much money into signing players. We’re working carefully, and we’re seizing the opportunities that come our way: we’ll be cautious in everything that we do, although of course we’re looking to reinforce and strengthen our squad. There won’t be any big moves: for owners and club presidents, it’s difficult to balance the budget, with the same costs, but a reduction in revenue.”
Does the Club feel as if last season was a great success? What are the objectives for the season that’s about to start?
“Last season was truly extrarordinary, and the credit for that should go to Conte: we already knew what he was capable of, and the most important thing for us is the working environment he has created. Antonio is really putting in the effort in this job, and that always pays dividends. Our growth last season could be seen across the board: nothing was overlooked. Conte has restored credibility to this side: there’s a new unity of intention, we all want the best for Inter, we’re all behind the Coach, and we want to help him improve this team by working on the Club’s infrastructure. One thing I can tell you about Coach Conte is that recently we found him checking the quality of the turf at the Suning Training Centre in person, showing his total commitment to the cause, and his love for Inter. Our objectives are exactly as they should be for a club like Inter: we want to finish in the top four again and to qualify for the Champions League, and we’ll be giving it our all in the Champions League and the Coppa Italia. We’ve had a strong season, and now we’ve got to continue along that path.”
How does the Club manage its relationship with the Coach as your journey together progresses?
"Antonio has continued to demonstrate that he’s a safe pair of hands, a real professional who takes things seriously, and strong values that he sticks to. Inter have shown that we mean business in everything that we’re doing. If there has ever been confrontation, it has always been about improving this team: I am very hopeful that this will continue, as it’s a testament to the strong feelings we hold for one another and our desire to grow. Tension like this is a normal part of the game. Conte and I are about to start our fifth year working together: the goal is always to bring home positive results, and if there’s no tension, people start taking their foot off the gas. You need a kick of adrenaline to keep things competitive. Everyone in the company has to work together to make Inter grow."
A year ago the Club was very clear that it would play a large part in the sporting project. Now Perisic and Nainggolan are back at the Club.
"At the beginning of last season, there was a need to impose some guidelines, a basic approach to management, and that’s something we did right away. This year, things have changed, a lot of things have improved, there aren't any striking issues, in fact there aren't any. We are not in the situation we were in last year. We’ve got a large squad that could still undergo some changes before the transfer window is over: there could be transfer requests, and we’re dealing with a number of issues at once."
We’re starting this season with a very large squad: is there any concern about starting the season with so many players?
"One of the key things that makes this season so strange is how thick and fast the fixtures will be coming. What’s more, we will still be able to make two substitutions. In a season like this, the unforeseen events and injuries are inevitable, and I think substitutes will play a more important role than they have done in the past."
Inter are a strong, healthy and growing Club: what are the strategies to consolidate this path?
"As we have said, it’s a very precarious moment historical moment, with reduced revenues worldwide, and inevitably, that has repercussions for individual clubs and leagues. Our owners are keen to meet their financial commitments, to get behind the team and the club in every way they can. The Suning Group have already made major investments over the years and they will continue to do so.”
What is the Club's position on the possible reopening of stadiums?
"We’re talking about a virus that hasn’t gone away, and we are seeing a growth of cases in a number of European countries. Of course, it’s strange to play matches in empty stadiums. Football needs fans and fans need football. But it's not up to us, and we’ve got to deal with this issue maturely and responsibly."