APPIANO GENTILE - "The first time is always a little nerve-wracking, so after all this waiting and hoping to start, I must say I’m happy it has finally come about and we can start playing. This context will be slightly different from Genoa but it’s a debut all the same and I think when you reach a level where you coach Inter you are justified in feeling a little nervous. But then you also have the opportunity to conquer great heights." The day before his first Serie A match on the Inter bench, Gian Piero Gasperini met journalists in the press room at the Centro Sportivo Angelo Moratti in Appiano Gentile.
After three months in charge at Inter, Gasperini is finally starting his journey towards his first match in Serie A at the Stadio Renzo Barbera in Palermo: "We have come through a transfer market that lasted ages and have very few matches under our belts because, apart from the Super Cup in Beijing, we played friendly matches involving between eight and ten substitutions. Then we got the squad back together, the transfer window closed and, once the internationals had finished, we were able to get together finally. I’m very hopeful about all the work we’ve done so far, but of course we need to try things out to see if they work and to do that we need to play real matches."
The question was raised about Gasperini and the three-man defence again, at today’s conference, and the coach had this to say: "People have always been a little sceptical about this at the beginning, even though I must say that recently many high-class teams outside Italy use this defensive formation. Actually when you talk about a three-man or a four-man defence it doesn’t really mean anything, it would be more correct to talk about the number of players that take part in attacking or defending moves. I didn’t come here to Milan to be a magician but because my method has always brought me good results and was accepted as such by players and fans alike. What counts is getting results. I want to see it in action first, without being judged beforehand."
Another who has complete faith in Gasperini is Massimo Moratti. "The president has always been supportive," said the coach. "This has never been an issue and it isn’t today, either. I repeat, we need to play matches: we are talking about nothing. Let us at least play first. Since I first arrived at Inter I have noticed one thing: there is always so much controversy surrounding this team, regarding anything at all. Now I hope we’ll be allowed to play and not just talk about our intentions. Playing will dissipate the controversy."
The conversation turned to Wesley Sneijder and the Nerazzurri coach explained: "He’s one of the most important players in the world and I hope this will be an exceptional season for him and that he’ll make a great contribution to this team. We have a squad brimming with important forwards and Sneijder is a player who can cover any role on the pitch, if needed. We are in a position where we can field various permutations and that is why I believe in this team. These are positions that can give additional scope to a team and I hope to get the best out of my players. Sneijder is no problem whatsoever for me, I always hope I have three players of his level in the team. I made a bet with him: last season he made 25 appearances and scored 4 goals. I told him I was convinced he could improve on that this year. The position is no problem as we can play him wherever we like. We’ll have a basic plan to build on and then we’ll have different variations. I think this is the strong point of this team. Do I think the month Sneijder played in midfield was a waste of time? No, everything we do is useful and serves a purpose, because at that time, that was the squad of players we had to work with. It could be the same in the future even if we’d prefer to play him up front because he can make the difference. But I repeat, this Sneijder problem is of your making, because Inter have an important squad and there’s no way that a situation can arise where the team would grind to a halt just because Sneijder wasn’t playing."
With Diego Forlan cup-tied in Europe, it’s natural to assume that he will be a permanent fixture in the league – something that Gasperini confirmed: "He really has surprised us, beyond any expectation: he is an immensely talented player. Obviously we’ll use him as much as possible in the league. Yes, not having him available in Europe came as a surprise, but the biggest regret is that we miss out on another player as well. And Diego would have become a Nerazzurri player anyway."
What about the team to face Palermo? "I certainly have the line-up for Palermo in my head," Gasperini explained, "and I don’t think you’re too far away from my idea either. Ranocchia? He’s one of the best, but of course we have to consider the two games he played with Italy and the match we have on Wednesday."
Finally, Gasperini said a few words about the players currently on the sidelines: "Maicon is taking giant strides in his recovery, and he could be available again within a game or two’s time. The others are all in different situations but none of them will be really long lay-offs. Obviously if someone like Motta gets injured in this period it means missing seven games, but we have a good enough squad to make up for things like that."