Mancini: “Inter must challenge for top honours”

MILAN – Roberto Mancini has reiterated his view that Inter can and must be among the contenders to get back into the Champions League this season, insisting that belief is the best cure for any blips such as Saturday’s draw with Empoli.

Speaking as a guest on Italia 1’s Tiki Taka programme last night, the coach began: “Inter are Inter and they must always be challenging for the top honours. We’ll do everything we can to get into the Champions League this year.”

What’s it like coming back to Inter after his previous spell at the club? “I spent four wonderful years here. When I left, Inter carried on winning and I gained experience elsewhere, winning myself. It went well for both sides.”

Mancini also looked back on the Nerazzurri’s recent draw at Empoli. “I expected better because the signs were good during the week. Sadly you get games like that sometimes. We have to pick ourselves up immediately. There were positives to take too – we kept a clean sheet, for example.”

The boss then answered a number of questions about individuals.

“Yes, Kovacic could be the player to start moves from deep. I believe you build a great team with great players.

“Shaqiri or Podolski in the Europa League? I’ll make that decision when I have to submit the list. In the next two weeks they’ll reach full fitness.”

On Mauro Icardi: “The main thing is that he stars on the pitch. He’s a highly talented youngster and has huge margin for improvement. It’s entirely up to him. If he wants to become a first-class centre forward, he has to make sure he keeps knuckling down.

“We mustn’t get dejected when things don’t go well. You have to keep on believing,” Mancini concluded.