MILAN – As he prepares his team to face Sassuolo tomorrow, Walter Mazzarri explained during a news conference at the Stadio Meazza today what matters most at the moment. "Right now the result is more important than anything else. It’s important for the players so that they can feel freer again because negative results start to weigh down on you."
The coach then stressed that "We’re working well in training, both mentally and physically," before admitting that he was pleased to hear the recent words of support from president Thohir: "I already knew what he thought but it’s important for what we’re doing here that the president said certain things publicly as well. Words of praise like that carry a lot of meaning. Now I only hope that we can turn around this negative run of form we’re in as soon as possible."
Asked about the reasons for Inter’s present struggles and whether the changes at club level might have influenced things at all, Mazzarri said: "It’s a difficult year we’re having. I came here thinking I wasn’t as prosperous a period as it used to be but I never foresaw all of this. It’s not easy to manage the group in times like these. I think you need to take all these factors into consideration."
The most recent change is the departure of Marco Branca: "I’m sorry on a personal level. I always had an excellent relationship with him and he helped me. You have to accept these decisions though and I wish him all the best with his career."
Could Fredy Guarin be seen as a new signing? "The transfer window was a strange one for us. My team selection against Juve was partly dictated by what had happened, but on Tuesday I said to the lads that we’d wiped the slate clean. We’re starting over from scratch and for me Guarin is available for selection like all the other players."
Mazzarri also fielded some questions about Mateo Kovacic, explaining that "Some of the things I said were misinterpreted by people who wanted to misinterpret them. I was replying to a tactical question about who was supposed to close down Pirlo. Some observers have said that the first goal was Kovacic’s fault but personally I don’t think that. I didn’t point the finger at him."
Can the arrival of a player like Hernanes provide a lift for the rest of the team? "It’s important for the lads to be able to play alongside players of that calibre. It’s one of the things that can aid their growth, how you help youngsters to develop at a big club like Inter. We needed someone with the sort of ability and the personality Hernanes possesses to spur on the others, but I don’t want to heap too much responsibility on his shoulders. In any case I certainly feel he can boost morale and confidence in everyone around him."
The coach was then asked a slightly provocative question: Does he really feel he’s the added value for this team, as he was for many years at other clubs? "You can see the glass as half empty or half full. Have you ever wondered how things might be right now if a less experienced coach had been here in my place? The dressing room could have fallen apart. There are also people who say to me, ‘Thank goodness you’re here or we could be in an even bigger mess’. In any case, all teams can go through a rough patch during the course of a season. And this season is certainly uphill."
Mazzarri also analysed tomorrow’s opponents Sassuolo: "They made some important choices during the transfer window and have some very capable players like Floccari, Berardi, Biondini, Brighi, Cannavaro, Manfredini, Ziegler and Rosi. But if Inter play as they’re able to tomorrow, we can overcome them."
To achieve that the team needs the supporters’ help as well. "The fans have always been exceptional, I’ve thought that from the very start. I think in the last home game we were all a bit distracted, the crowd too. People who care about Inter need to concentrate on getting behind the team – that’s the only way you can come through a tricky period. Tomorrow I’m sure we’ll all try to give the team everything we’ve got."