Antonio Conte held his customary pre-match press conference ahead of Inter’s match at home to Hellas Verona tomorrow evening, starting with how his side need to face the match.
“We will face this match with great attention, knowing that Hellas are a team on form. We will have to be very prepared for this situation. It will not be a simple game and therefore we will have to be good at disposing the disappointment from the Dortmund defeat,” he began.
He was then asked about his comments following that Dortmund match.
“Honestly, you saw my words as an outburst, but I saw it as a constructive way of trying to figure out that mistakes were made without directing it at anyone specifically and to make it clear that we can and must do better because we are Inter.
“When we are in private the management are the first to recognise some things could have been done better at the beginning of the season. I see absolutely no problems with the management because we share the same train of thought.”
Next he was asked if he is worried about the injuries in the squad, particularly in attack.
“They are all situations that must make us think about things, always in a constructive way. We need to be good at remedying this type of situation. I trust this group of players very much and they are doing extraordinary things in great difficulty when we have faced seven games in 20 days.
“On the one hand there is a bit of a concern because the group is reduced, on the other I have great confidence in a group of guys who are giving their soul. They are doing their best and this is a young group with great room for improvement.
“Lautaro is 22 years old, Also Barella, Lukaku himself is 26. We are talking about a young group on which something important can be built. Having said that, I would like to raise the bar. I repeat: we are Inter, we have to compete for important goals and therefore it is right that we raise the bar for everyone because I do it myself.”
He was then asked what he plans to do to help the situation in attack and the current situations of the injured players.
“The situation has forced us to call up a boy from the Primavera, Vergani and Fonseca will alternate. I see no other alternatives but I have great confidence in Lukaku and Lautaro as well as Esposito – who I would have no fear in starting from the first minute. We will try to make Vergani and Fonseca grow in this period where we are deprived of alternatives.
“D’Ambrosio has been training with us for a week, he still feels a little pain. He broke his toe and recovery does not happen overnight.
“We are talking about a player of incredible generosity and who has a great tolerance of pain.We will see what Danilo will say knowing that after the break he could be totally available.
“Sensi is struggling to recover, I have tried to deal with him in the best way, we will see what the situation will be for him tomorrow, we will make evaluations. We must make the best decisions to avoid consequences in the future.”
Next he was asked about the number of goals the team have conceded as of late.
“We are much better when we can stand tall and apply pressure, Let’s not forget that this team has scored over 30 goals, which is more than the league average. There is work to do for us to get back to enjoying clean sheets. We attack as a team and must do the same in the defensive phase. You cannot blame anyone specifically, the whole team must improve.”
He then spoke in length on why he thinks he was brought in to manage the club and what needs done.
“I think I was brought in at Inter to change something. To change a situation that saw Inter not competing for years, except for the last years with Spalletti, who did a great job with the difficulties that I am now finding.
“I accepted Inter knowing that I would be arriving in a historically difficult moment for the club because those who have been at the top for a long time are very structured.
“It is inevitable that I bring expectations with me, I put them on myself but I can’t keep them only on myself. All of us have to change if we all want to bring Inter back to compete to try to be protagonists.
“It is all done only for the sake of Inter, if I then create difficulties for someone or if I bring someone in who is not used to working this way then I am sorry but I have been brought in for this.
“We cannot be satisfied. We must raise the bar from all points of view. Only if united and compact can we change history, otherwise it will always be the same and that would be a shame.”
He was then asked to reflect on the second half of the Dortmund game.
“I knew what happened in the second half immediately after the game, but I think it was right to talk about other things in the post-match. What we all know is that I don’t know if our deficiency or the adversary’s skill forced us to defend ourselves and it was very difficult there, but the input was to continue doing what we were doing in the first half, to attack high and take some risks.
“I do not know if we did not have all this strength to continue to defend ourselves so high or if it was the opponent’s skill. What we are trying to do is stay in the opponent’s half and lead the game, also because we realised that when we are in ours we struggle. It remains to be seen if we can take an extra step on a psychological level and become even stronger to face difficulties.”
In conclusion he was asked if he is happy with the squad he has available to him and the team’s chances of progression in the Champions League.
“Absolutely yes. My only recrimination is that when we planned the squad we did not budget some situations that could happen because they had happened in the past. This is the only regret but I am happy with this team and even happier to know them.
“There is a real desire to do something but on a numerical, we are unfortunately paying for something in a calm way. We need to speed things up but not bypass them if we wish to go altogether towards one goal, we must know this and everything is always done for the good of Inter.
“As in football as in life, there are moments and occasions when you have to understand that winning will change your life. Winning in Dortmund meant staying with one foot and a half in the second round and for what we showed there and in Barcelona there must be great regret.
“I have to be very honest and say that the defeat in Dortmund has reduced our chances of progression but we also know that the only way we can go on is to start winning and hope for some other results to go our way.”