Monday March 21 2016
Conte: ‘Still Italy’s general’

Antonio Conte dismisses suggestions his departure could affect Italy’s motivation - “you’re either a general or you’re not”.

The Azzurri CT has already announced he’ll step down after this summer’s European Championships, but he insists that won’t affect his preparations for the tournament.

“Motivation? It’s a part of our work,” Conte told reporters in a Press conference at Coverciano.

“The bulk of work a Coach has to do is technical and tactical on the pitch, to try and come up with ideas and convey them to the team.

“Motivation is part of it, but if I had to put a number on it I’d say 20 per cent.

“You’re either always a general or you never are, you don’t become one.”

Conte then discussed his squad for the upcoming friendlies with Spain and Germany, which saw Fiorentina youngster Federico Bernardeschi given the call.

“He’s here because of the message he sent with his form in the League, like [Napoli’s] Jorginho. There were other messages, but I can’t call 40 players.

“He’s here on merit, there’s no prize and there’s no time to waste. I want to see what he can do, and see if he can be useful for the present because he’ll definitely be useful for the future of the national team.

“When you coach a player you know if he has features which will come in handy. He’s having a great season, and he’s here because he’s shown he has the capacity for sacrifice, in addition to his qualities.

“Well done to him.

“Why wasn’t Andrea Pirlo called? I didn’t speak to him on the phone, there’s too much professional respect between us for me to have to do that.

“I’m making assessments in these two tests, I’d have wanted to do that even before.

“We’re two months from the European Championships and I have to see what’s going on in the League and determine with my own eyes if certain players can fit into this squad.

“I’m trying players who can play multiple roles, these games and training sessions will help me to understand if players like Thiago Motta, for example, can fit into the squad.

“I repeat, I have to see who can play multiple roles and adapt to emergencies.”

The Azzurri boss was then asked for his preparation plans ahead of the tournament in France this summer.

“In my heart I hope they’ll change the final of the Coppa Italia,” Conte admitted, with the showpiece scheduled for May 21.

“Then we’ll make some decisions. I’d planned to give the lads six or seven days off, but obviously…

“We’re always talking about injuries and how we have to protect the players, but then it doesn’t happen. I want the players who are the most mentally sharp.

“We’ll have to reflect on some things.”

Finally, Conte spared a few words for Claudio Ranieri, who has taken Leicester City to the top of the English Premier League.

“It’s a highly positive image that Claudio is winning the Premier League. He started this journey with me, he’d been called to be CT of Greece.

“He wanted to be in contact [with the players] day-to-day, and I’m happy for him because he’s a very good person who has maybe received less than he’s given in terms of wins and trophies, despite having an excellent CV.

“I’m happy, he’s a good person and I hope this fairytale can become a reality, because he deserves it.”