President Erick Thohir spoke with Inter channel on the day of his 46th birthday and reviewed the season, previewed Inter’s summer tournaments and spoke about continued investment in the stadium with friends, AC Milan:
“President, the team finished the season in fourth place, meaning they qualified directly for the Europa League group stages. How important is it for Inter to be back in Europe?
“We finished the 2014/15 season in eighth place, while this year we’ve come fourth and amassed 12 more points than the previous season. It’s a good result and I want to thank Roberto Mancini, the players and the fans, who have shown the team fantastic support. We’ve had the highest average attendance in Serie A. I also want to thank the management team, who have worked very hard. Now we’re focusing on next season and on a new objective to compete for.”
Given that Inter will be fighting on three fronts, how important is it to bring in experienced players who are hungry for success?
“We’ll improve the squad by adding some new players, keeping in mind that unlike last season we don’t need to change 11 or 12 players. It takes at least two or three years to build a team. We need to bring in players that will help us in terms of character, personality and experience.
“We also want to promote some Primavera lads to the first team. As president, it’s my responsibility to ensure that the Primavera and first-team squads work in close collaboration. We’re one of the top clubs in Europe for bringing young players through and into the professional game.”
How much will agreements with UEFA on Financial Fair Play affect the club’s work in the transfer market?
“We have to respect Financial Fair Play because we’re participating in European competitions and we are aware of the responsibilities we have. Right now we’re on track and next year will be another challenge. As I’ve said, our intention is to adhere to the rules especially because if you fail to respect certain criteria you are unable to take part in the Europa League or Champions League, even if you qualify.
“We don’t want to take fans for a ride – we have to show them what the reality is and demonstrate that we have a common plan that’s allowing us to get better, step by step.”
Mancini has said that he wants to take Inter back to where they belong and has spoken of his confidence ahead of next season.
“I wholeheartedly believe in him – we support him. We’ve had some ups and downs this season but we’re here to keep fighting side by side, giving each other mutual support.
“We have an excellent coach and a good spine to the team and we can build on that to achieve our objectives while respecting Financial Fair Play. We’re doing well, the management and the team are working together towards a common goal.”
Moving onto the summer tour and the International Champions Cup, early ticket sales are showing that there is great interest ahead of Inter’s visit to the USA. What are you expecting from the tour?
“The visibility of the International Champions Cup is always increasing all the time, and not just in terms of tickets, sponsorship and television coverage. It’s a great chance for us to play against other prestigious teams such as Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Manchester United.
“We’re pleased to be going to the United States this summer and then we will return to Asia in the coming seasons, because that’s the market’s new frontier. The United States is very important to us too but the growth of passion for football in Asia is crazy right now and we want to ensure we’re getting as close as possible to all our fans.”
The development of Inter Academy in strategic locations is continuing to move along successfully, Inter Campus is a consolidated initiative and the Inter youth academy is one of the best in Europe, with all of the youth teams qualifying for the season finals once again this year. How would you rate the work done in youth development this season?
“I want to thank Roberto Samaden and his team, as well as all our young players. For us it’s vital that we support the youth academy because it’s an important part of our strategy.
“I’ve spoken with Michael Bolingbroke, Giovanni Gardini, Piero Ausilio and Roberto Mancini and we’ve all agreed that we’d like to have two or three players from the Primavera with the first-team squad at all times, in the hope of promoting some of them definitively. We have to believe in our young players.”
San Siro had a new look for the Champions League final and it seems that some excellent foundations have been laid to offer our fans an even better stadium in the coming years. Can you tell us about any other plans?
“San Siro was made to look absolutely wonderful for the Champions League final. It’s one of the top three stadiums in the world. We’ve invested in it and we want to continue doing so – that’s the challenge ahead.
“We can’t put the stadium plans off any longer, we need to move forward and build a museum too, something that will be very fitting for Milan, an international city that’s famous for football, fashion and lifestyle. That’s really important, as is addressing the San Siro question as quickly as possible.”
Working together with AC Milan?
“Of course! Working together with them – there’s nothing strange about that. They’re our partners and we’re good friends. It’s good to collaborate.”
Finally, do you have a message for the Nerazzurri fans?
“We want to build the best team possible. We’re sure that we put a good group together last season and next year we’re expecting a really exciting team. I want to thank the fans for their support and for believing in the project.
“As I’ve already said, the San Siro faithful need to be our 12th man on the pitch. We have to show our opponents that our fans can be the difference, because San Siro is the place where we can achieve the best results.”
Thank you president, and happy birthday.
“Thank you. I’m getting old!”“