Filippo Inzaghi spoke to the press ahead of the derby.

(IN THE PHOTO: the coach takes questions from the press) 

MILANELLO – Filippo Inzaghi held his pre-match press conference on Saturday afternoon ahead of Inter-Milan. This is what the coach had to say:

Opening comments: “It isn’t a head to head between Mancini and myself. It’s a derby between Milan and Inter. The main actors are the players and I hope it is my players that take centre stage on Sunday. The President’s visit is very significant as he makes the difference with his charisma and with his words. He’s always full of advice and affection, and I’m motivated by it, just like I am every day. I want to see a Milan side back at the top and that wins. Football goes in cycles, but I am convinced that with this President and the club directors we will go back to the top and win again. I am very happy about the President’s confidence in me and I hope that we can win for him. The team is ready and we hope to win for the President and our fans. I have to show my worth in every match. I will continue on my path with the same spirit and always motivated. I have only just started my coaching career, I am very calm and will continue on this path. I hope to repay all of the faith that has been shown in me.” 

The coach continued and gave an update on the fitness of Mattia Destro: “In my opinion the team is in good shape. Since we’ve recovered the injured players, the training sessions have been very intense, with many players who would be deserving of a first team place. It’s a nice thing to have all of these doubts ahead of the match and to be able to have several players to bring on during the match that can change the match. Destro trained on Friday and I will evaluate his fitness and assess whether he will start the match or go on the bench. In attack I am spoilt for choice. On the right I have Cerci, Suso and Honda available. In the middle I have Destro, Menez and Pazzini, while on the left I can also play Menez and have Bonaventura. In the final training session I will make my assessments on who to select. With all this choice it is easier for me to choose. Derbies are one-off matches and they have to be won. We have to give continuity to our good performances which started in the match away to Fiorentina. I have been happy with the performances in the past month and it gives me confidence. We have to improve again on Sunday.” 

On the importance of the derby: “It is important for the league table and that’s not all. We’re taking on a great side, but we have to take to the pitch convinced that we can give a top performance. Lack of experience? I don’t like to comment on these issues. I do my job with humility and I always think about how I can improve in every situation. I took this job to get Milan back to winning ways. To start a new cycle it takes patience and I work day and night for this club which I want the very best for. I always think about doing the best for the team, trying to please everyone is impossible.” 

Inzaghi also gave an update on the fitness of Diego Lopez and turned his attention to the nerazzurri: “He sprained his finger on Friday. It doesn’t seem to be anything too serious. On Saturday we will check up on his fitness and see if he can play. Otherwise, Abbiati will step in. We know Inter’s characteristics. They have some very good players in attack and they keep the ball well. However, we have to impose our game. Compared to last Sunday, we have to perhaps be a bit more precise with our final pass and more clinical with our shots on goal. When I was handed the job, my qualities were known. Then, the club will make their evaluation, but they are close to me. People have been too patient with me. We have very few excuses and now have to show our value and do our best for Milan. I want to stay here and after the past few months I know what can be done to improve this team. The fans will be satisfied again when we get back to winning the Scudetto and playing in the Champions League again. Fans are demanding, and I hope to get back to the top as soon as possible. We know the importance of Sunday’s match and we will do everything to win it. Bonaventura wants the best for Milan. With a complete squad we are a great team. In Dubai we also defeated Real Madrid. We lost a lot of points in January and February as we lost several players. Next year we will try and understand how we can improve on this situation.” 

The coach reflected on his options in attack for the derby and also eyed improvements from the last match versus Sampdoria: “I have a lot of options to choose from and I will have to choose the best starting line-up and those who can play their part coming off the bench. The return of Honda gives me more choice. Honda and Suso are similar, Cerci has different characteristics, but they all have the abilities to start the match. Against Sampdoria we had 24 shots on goal. From those, 7 were on target but only one was a goal, which means that we have to improve. We must keep this up, but improve in the final third. We don’t ever settle. We cannot think about the league table and rather about playing good football. I am calm ahead of the match but it’s clear that the derby is a match that has to be won.”  

Final comments on the importance of the derby for the city of Milan and Honda’s fitness: “It’s a big match for both sides, in a sold-out stadium. It’s the pinnacle for a player and I hope the derby is a good advert for Italian football. Let’s hope that the city of Milan, in what is a difficult moment for football, can be a great example. Honda has recovered. He has been training since Tuesday and he has recovered 10 days ahead of schedule. In the final training session, I will see whether to start him or not. He still feels a bit of pain when he strikes the ball hard, but it’s normal.”