The coach in his press conference: "No one is guaranteed a starting berth with me. I just look at what's best for the team and the players know that"

APPIANO GENTILE – "I sense there's great unity between Thohir and the Moratti family. You sense unity throughout the club and the desire to do well, and that's obviously a plus for Inter." That's how Walter Mazzarri described the current climate at the club as he addressed reporters in a media conference ahead of Inter v Sampdoria.

The coach was then probed about his team selection and the way he uses his players. "When you see that the team is responding to what you ask of them, the less you change things, the better. But that's not to say there are any fixed starters. No one is guaranteed a starting berth with me, I just look at what's best for the team because if the team's not getting results then we all lose out."

In light of remarks made by president Thohir yesterday, what does Mazzarri feel is the ideal squad size? "I think you need the right number of players according to the sort of season you have to play. If you're playing in Europe, you need a certain number; if have just league commitments, then you need another number. If people aren't playing then their value goes down but you also have to consider you might get injuries... If you get the number right then everyone is motivated and nobody's value depreciates."

On this team's style of play: "I'm proud if my team is playing entertaining football, and if it's getting you results as well then of course it's perfect. When you prepare properly for a game you can't separate the attacking phase from the defensive phase - I think about both together. Those who know me know how carefully I prepare things tactically. It upsets me when I hear people say we just play counter-attacking football. There are very few coaches who work as hard on the attacking phase and possession play as we do."

The Nerazzurri coach was asked about the changing face of Italian football and the fact that several clubs have been passed into new hands. He said: "The changes of ownership are an offshoot of the general financial crisis in Italy, which has a knock-on effect in football."

Has a return date been set for Yuto Nagatomo? Mazzarri explained: "Perhaps not in time for Parma, but he should make it back for Napoli."

Finally, there was a question about the Christmas holidays and the fact that the South American players will return two days after the Europeans. 'Isn't that dangerous?' a journalist enquired. "No, it's not," Mazzarri replied firmly. "Of course there are always risks in life but when you're in charge of a group you have to treat everyone equally: the South Americans have two days more because they lose two days travelling. I've always done things that way. The players accept it and nobody makes an issue of it. I've already told everyone what they have to do; they know how and when they have to train. It was something we discussed at the start of the season."

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