APPIANO GENTILE – Ahead of tomorrow’s Serie A meeting with Catania, Walter Mazzarri has called on his Nerazzurri troops to put all off-field matters behind them and focus on one thing only: getting the three points.
Speaking during a media conference today, the coach began: "Catania have had their difficulties but we mustn’t think about that. Italian football is a strange game and teams can perform massive turnarounds from one match to the next. That’s what we have to do: turn things around and start making up the points that we’ve dropped in recent games. We have to get points on the board.
"I’ve asked my players to think about nothing else except the football we want to play. I’ve asked them be measured and more clinical in front of goal, and I hope that incidents during the match will go our way too. It’s important for us to win; we have to get the three points whatever it takes."
On the subject of off-field matters, the journalists asked Mazzarri if Fredy Guarin would be in the squad for tomorrow’s Week 21 encounter: "For a number of reasons, and having spoken to the lad himself, I’ve decided not to call him up tomorrow. I’ve channelled all my energy this week into getting the squad to focus even more on the game itself. And to concentrate on the game, their heads need to be clear, not awash with other thoughts."
After Catania, the next team thrown up by the fixture list is Juventus, just 10 days after Turin-Milan relations were put into the spotlight. The coach commented: "At the end of the day, you play football on the pitch. Nothing else should change that. There’s always been a strong rivalry between Inter and Juve and I think for certain games – regardless of all other considerations – the players are always completely fired up."
True to form, Mazzarri declined all attempts to veer onto the subject of transfers, and in doing so he once again stressed that his thoughts are solely on Catania: "I only want to talk about Catania. I don’t have to talk about anything else. I saw that a fellow coach of mine didn’t hold a press conference; well I’m here but only to talk about Catania.
"31 January? I can’t wait for it to come. At least then we can stop talking about it. It’s better for the players when the transfer window is shut."
Haven’t the players been distracted by everything that’s gone on this week? That was another question put to the Nerazzurri boss. He replied: "I can’t look inside each of their heads, but I can tell you how I went about the week: I showed them a video of the Genoa game, I wanted to make sure the lads thought the same about it as I do. I spoke to them as a group and I said, ‘Let’s cut ourselves off from it all’. I’ve always tried to do that with my players. We need to be careful and focused, work even more carefully than normal, and think about nothing else.
"I think the players are even more determined than I am to bounce back and that fills me with confidence. I’m sure this team will have a great end to the season, we’re convinced of that. Just as I’m sure that all it takes is one win and we’ll be off on a roll again. We’ll have broken the spell.
"Have I thought about what I’ll do at the end of the season? The last thing I’m thinking about is the end of the season, I’m just thinking about Catania. Throughout my career I’ve never thought about what I’ll do at the end of the season."
The Inter chief was then asked about Rodrigo Palacio, Diego Milito, Mauro Icardi and Ruben Botta.
"I thought Palacio played well in Genoa, he just came up short in front of goal. Milito is improving all the time.
"Icardi I haven’t been able to train for two weeks running. I can’t wait for him to join us again because in what little time he’s played he’s shown what he’s made of, what sort of player he is.
"Botta is a smashing lad. I’ve seen lots of good things in him. Obviously it’s one thing in training and another during a game, but he’s looking better and better."
How important is it that Erick Thohir will be arriving in Italy tomorrow? "Him being here is a positive for everyone involved with the club, but even when he’s not here he knows everything that’s going on and is in contact with everyone at the club. I see great unity here."