“I have faith in the players, in the club and in myself, so let’s get to work,” said Inter Coach Andrea Stramaccioni, but his press conference was gate crashed by Mario Balotelli!
There was a bizarre moment during today’s conference, as former Nerazzurri star Balotelli walked in from a side entrance and was all smiles as he shook hands with Stramaccioni and the directors.
The Primavera youth team manager was promoted in place of Claudio Ranieri on Monday night after winning the NextGen Series (the youth Champions League) on Sunday.
“It’s a wonderful dream, as we went from the victory in London – which now seems months ago – to what happened yesterday. These are emotions only football can give you. I put my face on the youth team success for the last six months, but the work has been going for many years.
“This has been totally unexpected and a dream that President Massimo Moratti gave me. There’s not such a big distance between the Primavera locker room and the senior one, but in real terms they are a world away. It’s a totally different environment.
“I was honest, it makes me very proud to Coach these champions. Up until yesterday they were the champions I peeked at through the bushes, now they are my champions. They are great professionals and I was pleased to note it was immediately easy to communicate with them.”
Stramaccioni has been called ‘the Italian Andre Villas-Boas,’ and the 36-year-old showed remarkable confidence in his presentation to the media.
“If you decide to do this work, then it is a dream, full stop. It can be concentrated on what you do on the field, what you say to a player, but I think the word ‘fear’ is inaccurate. When the President told me what he had decided, my head flew immediately and only to what I would do on the field with these lads.
“When I left the meeting with the President, I noted that I was myself all the way through and expressed my ideas. If Moratti, who wrote European football history, decided to give me this chance then it’s because of what he saw me do in the last six months.
“I take this position with enthusiasm and humility, but also confidence and belief in what I know I can do. I realise these are very different players to the Primavera, but they are great professionals and I have a very strong club behind me. I just focus on what I can do on the field with these lads.”
The Nerazzurri have struggled to find stability since Jose Mourinho won the Treble and then walked away, so Stramaccioni was asked if he feels in danger of falling into the same trap.
“I do not run this risk at all. Right now I feel light years away from one of the best Coaches in the world. I am the last one to arrive and have my ideas. In my humility, I also go on to the field only to teach what I know. Mourinho will remain a legend for Inter, but what he did here doesn’t matter when it comes to what I will do.
“I was very honoured to hear my name even associated with this bench, even the fact that Inter had even considered me for a moment. Obviously I’d be a hypocrite if I said coming in this late was like working with a team from pre-season.
“What the President asked me to bring was the same enthusiasm and hunger to fight for the Inter colours, bringing them back to the top, and the amazing passion of the patron that he had seen in the Primavera side. He passed on that remarkable passion to me, even more than I already had.
“Moratti said: ‘Look, we’ve got to win!’ Our fans are fantastic, so it’s best not to talk about long-term projects right now, but rather focus on the next game.
“I prefer to describe what I do as transmitting ideas rather than teaching them. These players already wrote the history of European football, so I have nothing to teach them as such. I can only transmit the ideas I’ve had over my career so far, which is to go out there to win and take control of the match. It’s not that complicated.
“I was pleased to see the atmosphere in training today, as there was enthusiasm, intensity and pace. I am satisfied after my first day and, to sum it up, I really believe.
“Yesterday I was told so many things that I don’t even remember what Moratti said on Sunday! As for being confirmed for next season, the President just told me to put my ideas on the field, bring back enthusiasm and help Inter to win again. We are in a difficult situation and right now I don’t like to hear predictions or targets. Let us play and then see where we are.”
Stramaccioni was asked about his management heroes and went back to his years at the Roma youth academy.
“Obviously in football terms I think a young Coach has to ‘sneak a peek’ at whatever he finds interesting. At Roma the man who gave me the most was Luciano Spalletti and his staff, as they treated me with affection and their record-breaking run inspired many ideas within me. Spalletti has a great passion and helped me so much.”
It has been noted that Coach Stramaccioni is actually younger than Inter captain Javier Zanetti, but pinpointed the Argentine as the key figure.
“I will give the players all of my respect and expect the same in return. I want enthusiasm and players to feel like they are young inside. Just look at our captain, who is older than me, but in training had the same enthusiasm and effort as the teenagers who were working with us. He is an inspiration for everyone at Inter.
“I had one training session and today I start learning about the players from within the locker room. Often a game can be decided by an incident can affect the judgement of a total performance. In recent games, Inter have been unlucky and the result can reflect on the evaluation of individuals, often unfairly. So I’d like to see them play before passing judgement.”
Wesley Sneijder has been a tactical minefield for Gian Piero Gasperini and Ranieri, so there are reports Stramaccioni will return to using a trequartista.
“I prefer not to talk about the past, as I don’t know what happened. Wesley is an extraordinary champion who exemplifies quality and technique. If he’s in good shape, he can make a big difference on international level. At the moment he is injured, so we’ll wait to evaluate the situation when he is 100 per cent.
“We started mid-July with the Primavera and started on a totally new group, as there were only three players left from last season. This is a team made of champions with specific characteristics, so my job is purely to put these champions in the right environment to express themselves to their fullest.
“I received many messages. Perhaps the one that made me happiest was from Bruno Conti, who certainly helped me a great deal in my career. He wrote: ‘You’re damn strong – I knew it!’
“Perhaps my youth makes me dim, but I don’t feel that pressure. I would be worried if the team wasn’t up to the task, but they are great talents. I have faith in the players, in the club and in myself, so let’s get to work. Our target is to beat Genoa this weekend.”