APPIANO GENTILE – "I think such an excellent and experienced coach like Edy Reja can’t help but bring back a sense of unity to the team." Walter Mazzarri’s first thoughts ahead of the match against Lazio, who have just welcomed their new coach on board.
"I’ve read that they feel close-knit again and that there’s even more support coming from the fans. If you look at their individual players they’re very good and can cause problems for any team. It will be an important test for us," stated the coach as he awaits the first clash of 2014.
Mazzarri was then asked for his thoughts on the ups and downs which have affected the Lazio bench this season: "I’m thinking most of all about Inter and what the game has in store for us. I don’t think this change means an advantage for us because they were in trouble in their last game. The fact that Reja has arrived, who knows the team and can give them a sense of unity again, could spell danger for us. I’m not going to reflect on the other aspects."
And how did the players seem to the coach upon returning from the holiday break? "I had told them to work hard and follow Pondrelli’s programme to a T. They showed very well in the tests and tactical exercises. They’re charged up and they seemed in top form to me. Winning the derby did a lot for their self-belief, but now we need consistency and solidity. I want them to play and be assertive."
Mazzarri then revealed that Diego Milito will make the trip to Rome: "He’ll get the call for certain. He seems to be in pretty good shape to me. Like all players who are out of action for a long while, he needs a bit of time to get his rhythm, but he’s doing well. And even if he’s not in top form, Milito is important in certain moments in the game for his savvy and the way he worries the opponents. He’s a player I’m glad to have back again. I’ll take him and then we’ll see based on how the game goes.
"Could his condition influence the choices we make in the transfer market? Milito gives us something extra, and I’m not going to discuss the market. I can’t wait until January is over. As a coach my only concern is that the team remain focused. You don’t even need a transfer market in January. For a coach it only represents a distraction, which is something dangerous."
And while Milito might be making the trip to Roma, doubts remain over Mauro Icardi’s presence: "He has the flu and a high fever. He’ll skip training today, and then tomorrow we’ll make an assessment on whether or not to take him. It’s a shame because he was doing well. He’ll spend the night here, then we’ll see."