APPIANO GENTILE – At 12:30 CET tomorrow, the Nerazzurri will take to the pitch at the Sardegna Arena to play Cagliari on matchday eleven. On the eve of the match, Antonio Conte held a press conference, with the Inter Coach having the following to say:
What kind of game are you expecting tomorrow?
“I’m expecting a difficult match. When you play against Cagliari, you always expect to be in for a tough encounter. We need to play in the right manner from kick-off.”
How is Vidal? What kind of reaction are you expecting in Cagliari?
“Arturo remains unavailable but has started to work again. He had a small muscular problem, we need to get him back into peak condition and respect the time this will take. Our exit from the Champions League was painful both for me and the team, we believed in our chances. We’d put the situation back on track after it had become very difficult following the defeat to Real Madrid, and we’re disappointed to have been eliminated in the way we were. We now need to lift our heads and keep going. It’s only right that there’s pain and regret, but we know that we need to immediately play another match as best we can.”
What message do you want to give the fans at this moment?
“Let’s not offer ourselves up to those who want to destroy the important things that we’re building and which can lead to us reaping rewards in the future. We need to remain compact and united. Last season, this process took us to second in the league, a Europa League final and a Coppa Italia semi-final. We've gained credibility and helped our young players develop. I understand that there’s impatience, but building the foundations is what takes the most time when you begin to work. After that, you can build a skyscraper, the kind Inter fans deserve. However, unity is required. We need to ensure that we’re compact as we work to grow.”
Do you not feel the obligation to win the Scudetto this season?
“The Club was very clear when I started: it would be a growth process and involve developing our young prospects and helping players grow. On a financial level, we knew that it’d be difficult due to the COVID emergency, but we wanted to remain united. I think you’ve read the President’s words, and they respect what I’ve said. Our elimination from the Champions League stings and those who know me know how I’m feeling about it.”
The feeling is that the team struggle against sides that sit back. How can you deal with such a situation? Why is it the case that Eriksen doesn’t seem to have developed as a player?
“Who has said that he’s not making progress? You see Eriksen during matches, but the task of a coach is to make everyone improve. He knows that I try constantly to improve all my players, from the youngest through to our veterans. I’m also working with him and trying to improve some aspects. He’ll also have the opportunity to show the improvements he’s made.
“This year, we’ve got the best attack in the league, and last season we were only behind Atalanta in this regard. It really is strange that, after all that we created, we weren’t able to score across 180 minutes against Shakhtar. The fact that teams sit back against us means that they have a lot of respect for us, but we need to be more clinical and ruthless because you need to take your chances and score in order to win.”
Is the fact that you’ll have the opportunity to prepare for matches better an advantage? Where do Inter need to improve when they play against the best sides?
“We need to improve many things and have the patience to continue to work to develop all our players so they can perform at their best when they play such matches. It’s important to know that there are fixtures that need to be won no matter what, even before we take to the pitch. This is a team that has started a journey and still has a lot of work to do in this respect, but I see how they train and have a lot of confidence. We need to put in the hard work in order to be more prepared and competitive. The fact that the league and Coppa Italia are all that remain for us is painful for me, especially given how we were knocked out of the Champions League. There’s a lot of bitterness and regret. We now need to focus on the league.”
Why didn’t Inter deserve to qualify? Could analysing this help for the future?
“Whenever things don’t go your way, you need to be smart and try to understand how you can improve and win your next game. During the group, we mostly paid the price for our matches against Real Madrid, because we demonstrated that we deserved more in our games against Borussia and Shakhtar. We were poor in the second game against Real in particular and made life difficult for ourselves. We need to learn that there are moments in which you need to reduce errors to a minimum.”
Are expectations of Inter too high at the moment?
“It’s not right to take about quality, I can only really comment on the situation. When I took over at Inter last year, the situation wasn’t the best but I knew that, and was told as much, and I still wanted to get involved and try to take Inter back to where they deserve to be. I still have the ambition, desire and hope. COVID has presented some particularly big challenges but I need to work as hard as I can and always give my all.”
Former Inter man Godin plays for Cagliari, some think it was a surprise departure.
“I have a lot of respect for Diego and fond memories of what he gave me last season. He knows my thoughts on him and it’s important that he does.”