Samir Handanovic said Inter are getting “back to basics” and admitting the Treble-winning years are long gone.
The Nerazzurri have stuttered in pre-season under new Coach Walter Mazzarri, changing tactics and welcoming new faces. They take on Real Madrid this evening in St. Louis, kick-off at 19.00 UK time.
“We suffered devastating defeats to Udinese and Valencia, but hammerings like that can do us good,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“They help you to keep your feet on the ground and remember football is all about hard work. Either you work as a team of 11 together or you won’t get far. I understood the importance of improvement. It’s too easy when things are just going well.
“Do I ever ask myself why I came here? Never. Inter were and remain a big club. Goalkeepers are paid to save, not to think. When you have to rebuild, experiences like this are useful.”
Mazzarri was drafted in after four years at Napoli and his tactical approach has resulted in starting from scratch.
“There are some differences from last year. What mustn’t change is the mentality, which last season we didn’t focus on enough, as Inter must be ready for sacrifice at every moment of the game.
“We have to think of ourselves as a side who are no longer the superpowers of the past. Let’s not kid ourselves, that is the situation. Inter no longer have 11, or even more, top players like they did under Roberto Mancini or Jose Mourinho.
“I don’t like talking about the past, or cancelling it as if it was wrong. Let’s just say that we are working on things that in theory we should already have known: we resumed from the ABCs of football, going back to basics and defensive organisation. It’s what we needed.”
Handanovic was repeatedly linked with Barcelona this summer, but had no intention of quitting Inter just yet.
“If a club wants you, they buy you and the player is the first to know. The rest is just paper talk. I didn’t listen to the rumours, as I preferred to stay concentrated. A goalkeeper has to be fully focused, as he works with hundredths of a second.
“My present is Inter. What my future will be, we’ll have to wait and see.”
Think you know your Italian football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG's tipster competition - £5,000 monthly.