Antonio Conte begins his touchline ban against Chievo and looks back over Juventus’ Coppa Italia exit, but insists “I am not worried.”
The Bianconeri have had a very difficult start to 2013, seeing their eight-point lead whittled down to three and going out of the Coppa Italia semi-final against Lazio.
“Is it a difficult time for us? If I look at the table, then I’d say no,” assured the Coach who begins a two-game touchline ban for insulting the referee.
“If I see we are through to the Champions League knockouts and reached the Coppa Italia semi-final, then I say no. We deserved more against Lazio, both home and away, despite the fact we used the Coppa to help players gain experience and get more playing time.
“A Coach cannot just look at the result. It can happen that you try to give your all, but then concede two goals with the only real chances. I am not worried. Apart from against Sampdoria, I was never unhappy with my team’s performance. Luck just isn’t on our side right now.
“I did not consider us favourites before and I do not see us like that now either. This Scudetto will be won by the best team, as it was last season. Napoli are our direct antagonists and strengthened in the January transfer window, so they have everything it takes to win the Scudetto.”
The Bianconeri were expected to strengthen over the January transfer window, but fans are unsure that Nicolas Anelka is the reinforcement they needed.
“We tried to do what we could and what the other clubs allowed us to do,” continued Conte. “We have been clear since the first day that we do not have a large kitty to draw from. We could’ve done better, we could’ve done worse.
“After all, apart from Mario Balotelli, the top players like Luis Suarez, Stevan Jovetic and Edinson Cavani did not move mid-season.
“Anelka is in decent shape, calculating his last game was in October, and showed himself to be a professional. We are trying to perform a full immersion on him, so he can understand our systems. He will be on the bench against Chievo.
“Are the fans disappointed? You can’t have everything straight away. Like other clubs, we are undertaking a process of growth. We’re not a complete team, though we did proceed very quickly, as we’ve only been working together for 18 months. It’s crazy to talk about a Treble.”
Conte is suspended, but so are Mirko Vucinic, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini, while Claudio Marchisio, Simone Pepe and Nicklas Bendtner are sidelined.
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £11,000 to be won monthly!