Walter Mazzarri is looking forward to his first Derby della Madonnina and feels Chelsea rumours are helping Fredy Guarin.
It kicks off at San Siro at 19.45 GMT on Sunday, click here for a match preview.
“Of course the Milan Derby has a special fascination to it and as a Coach I try not to think about it until I step on to the field. At that moment I will realise what the Milan Derby really is,” said Mazzarri in his Press conference.
“I must focus on helping the team play against Milan so the players can be ready to approach this game. I am more concerned with seeing my players adopt my style of football – one that is pleasing to watch, attacking and moving ball to feet.
“Rationally, the Derby is worth three points, but we are close to the fans and realise the difference. Certain games can also help with self-confidence or affect you psychologically. It means more to the supporters.
“A victory would be a huge confidence boost for the rest of the season, that is certain. If it goes wrong, I’ll have to work to turn over a new leaf and focus on the next games.”
He met with President Erick Thohir on Friday and the Indonesian magnate will be in the stands tomorrow night.
“My meeting with President Thohir was very positive, as he seemed relaxed. Everyone knows when we don’t win I cannot let it go, but he tried to help us all relax and said he appreciated the football against Napoli. He confirmed we are on the right track, will try to go as far as possible and build for the future.
“Therefore the task was to make the most of this squad and of course to get good results.”
Mazzarri was highly critical of the referee after the 4-2 defeat to Napoli, but insists he has no complaints at Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni being assigned to this game.
“I want to point out that I get to Sunday without even knowing who the referee is, as I am not interested. I just see the referee as the guarantor of the rules, then give my opinion after the match. I never discriminated before kick-off against any official.”
This week reports have been piling up about Guarin’s potential January move to Chelsea for €15m.
“I don’t want to talk about the transfer market, especially today. It’s an issue to discuss with the club regarding financial fair play and balancing the books, but a Coach can only really take heed of the decisions made by his club.
“The way I see it, Guarin responded on the field. I had many individual meetings with him, as in my view he hasn’t expressed over 90 minutes his full potential. I called him on Tuesday and said he’d played the best game against Napoli, showing that consistency I wanted. Perhaps these rumours stimulated him to give his best.
“I would always like to see my team play the way they did against Napoli, but being more attentive when defending counter-attacks. We worked on that and I’d like our performance to be repeated with that extra focus, that is all.
“It’s true there are games against teams with technical gifts like Milan who could force us back, so in that case we could focus on the counter-attack. It’s not something we’ve done that well so far.
“I ask for concentration in defence, aggression and also a clear head when playing our style of football. It cannot be tense, as the moves I like need a certain confidence in specific areas of the field.
“Big matches are all more or less the same, whether a Derby or not. I’d urge the players to give their heart, but not forgetting if things are done well then they’ve got a better chance to get a result. Simple effort and aggression are not enough, so you need good football too.”
Inter are in their Year Zero, yet they are nine points in front of arch rivals Milan.
“We cannot compare the two projects, as Milan finished third last season and didn’t change the squad very much. Would I remove Kaka or Mario Balotelli? I don’t like discussing individuals, as it’s a team sport and organisation is just as important as talent.”
Ricky Alvarez is suspended, but Mazzarri warned he won’t simply drop Mateo Kovacic into his position.
“Alvarez is an attacking player and I used him in midfield because he did the attacking and defending movements properly. Kovacic has impressed, but needs to grow in terms of defending, so I don’t see him ready to play in central midfield from the start. During a game, depending on how it’s going, he can come in and play there, but he’s not ready to take that role from the start in a match like the Derby.
“Esteban Cambiasso cannot go deep, otherwise the whole team goes deep. He emerges when it is right to emerge. He did well against Napoli, but perhaps wasn’t covered enough by those who were meant to plug those spaces and that’s how we lost the game.
“Javier Zanetti has the right experience and characteristics to be in central midfield, where he can cover the forward runs. Kovacic could be used in Guarin’s role, so I could ask Guarin to be on the wing. I still have doubts, as if Saphir Taider plays then Guarin will be the trequartista.”
The former Napoli and Sampdoria Coach was asked whether he realised there was something ‘different’ at Inter compared to other clubs, such as the fact they haven’t received a penalty this season or the destabilising rumours about behind the scenes problems.
“The important thing is that this becomes motivation to do better. I evaluate performances, whether from players or referees, but it ends there. When I arrived, they informed me on the history of Inter and it was news, as I didn’t expect to not receive any penalties at all. Anyone who knows me will realise I find that spurs me on, so I won’t use it as an alibi.
“I respect Massimiliano Allegri and we have no problems. The same thing happened when I met with Jose Mourinho, as in the past we defended our respective clubs. The important thing is to maintain respect.”
Finally, Mazzarri was asked whether he’d give up smoking – again – if Inter won the Derby.
“Don’t make me promise these things.... When you’re a smoker, you always find a reason to smoke. When I have the chance to relax a bit more I’d like to try initially cutting down and then stopping.”