UEL, Mancini: “A win for our confidence”

APPIANO GENTILE – With Derby della Madonnina number 213 now behind us, it’s time to quickly move on to the next obstacle, which comes in the shape of Dnipro. The Ukrainian outfit are the visitors at the Stadio Meazza tomorrow for Inter’s UEFA Europa League Matchday 5 fixture and Roberto Mancini met with the media this afternoon to preview the game.

The coach began by reflecting on Sunday’s meeting with AC Milan. “We did some things well against the Rossoneri. We also made a few mistakes but that’s to be expected in the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. It’s early days to be making judgements but overall I’m pleased with how the lads played. We just need to string together a few decent results and it will boost our self-confidence.

“We have to be careful tomorrow because Dnipro are a very physical side who actually do better away from home. It won’t be an easy game by any stretch of the imagination but we must set out to win it and ensure we finish top of our group.”

The coach was asked if he plans to rotate his men with a view to Sunday’s visit to Roma. “I may change a few things around but we must concentrate on one game at a time. We’ll put out our best team. There’ll be time to worry about Roma later.”

Is it easier to finish third or win the Europa League? “Those are the two routes we have available to us if we’re to get back into the Champions League and we must succeed in one of them. The Europa League is an important competition because the winner qualifies for the Champions League and because it means you get to play the European Super Cup.”

Mancini also answered some questions about individual players. “How’s Vidic? He missed two days of training last week because he wasn’t fully fit. He’s ok now. I’ve known him since the two of us were in Manchester and I’m sure he’ll be useful to us. It’s quite normal to encounter difficulties coming here because Italian football is totally different to the Premier League.”

On rumours linking Kovacic with other big clubs: “It’s not surprising that he should receive offers, that happens to all good players. We’re lucky to have him here with us. We need to help him fulfil his potential so that he can really make a difference in the years to come.”

The Nerazzurri coach then commented on Osvaldo and Bonazzoli: “Osvaldo is in good shape. I’ll decide whether he plays tomorrow. Bonazzoli is training with us, he’s young and has a lot to learn but he’s very talented. I hope to have the opportunity to give our younger players some game time too.”

What does Mancini think of Konoplyanka? “He’s their best player. He’s very good and we’ll have to watch out for him. He’s got bags of ability. I think he’d do well at a big club too.”

Finally, he was asked about Thohir, Moratti and his birthday: “I saw the president on Saturday because he had dinner with us in Appiano Gentile. It was only the first meeting, there wil be others.

“I have an excellent relationship with Moratti. We met and had a brief chat.

“50 tomorrow? This job keeps you feeling young. I’m happy to be here: I celebrated my 40th birthday at Inter and I never imagined I’d get the chance to celebrate my 50th here as well.”