Italy’s national team boss Antonio Conte recently oversaw his first match as an international manager. Italy played against Norway in the first Euro 2016 qualifiers after having just beaten Netherlands in a friendly. Both games finished as a 2-0 victory for the Italians, which pleased manager Conte. One of the high-profile absentees in the Italian squad for these two matches was Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli, who recently returned back to England in a £ 16 million deal from AC Milan. The forward was valued much higher before the World Cup 2014, but the return of just one goal in three matches did not help his valuation.
Balotelli has also been singled out by many as one of the reasons for the exit, as he was astronomically poor in the group matches against Uruguay and Costa Rica. His only goal came in the opening match against England. Balotelli has previously been criticised by former manager Cesare Prandelli on several occasions in order to keep up his form. Conte deciding to omit the 24-year-old has raised a lot of eyebrows, but the former Juventus manager has confirmed that he has not left out Balotelli in order to send out a message. Conte will have to overcome accusations of favouritism within players in order to succeed as the Italy boss.
“We have been monitoring every match. The call-ups are based on those we observed, with those we had footballing evidence on. I don’t have to send a message to anyone. Those who know me know very well how I operate, how I am, I do not present gifts to anyone. I also told the lads that today there is this group and that as long as they deserve to be in the national squad, to wear the Azzurri shirt they will remain, but that doesn’t mean that who’s there today will be there tomorrow and vice versa,” said Conte.
Inter Milan have so far been a mixed bag in the pre-season. After managing to beat Real Madrid on penalties in the first pre-season friendly match, they were defeated by United in a similar fashion in the next encounter. This has been followed by a 2-0 win over Roma. As a result, Inter have effectively stayed unbeaten during the three pre-season matches. This has improved expectations ahead of the new season. Last campaign, the club could only manage a fifth-place finish in the league. This meant that they will have to satisfy themselves with only Europa league football for the coming campaign.
For a club that has won Champions League titles only a few years ago, this is not good enough. Mazzarri has accepted this and he says that the club will be challenging on all fronts in the coming campaign. The former Napoli manager recently signed a contract extension despite many fans calling for his head. This is seen as a move from Inter to give a big support the manager. They started last campaign in excellent fashion, but a title challenge went away midway through the season. Mazzarri is keen on rectifying this mistake in the upcoming season, but he says that people should not to give too much importance to the win over Roma.
“So far everything has worked well in the US. Now we face Roma. It is worth a lot for us to beat Roma, but we must look beyond the result. They are a very strong side and we know it will be a good test, but this isn’t Serie A yet. We don’t want to lose Kovacic, so he’ll be on the bench and will possibly play a few minutes, but without running any risks. I wanted to let him start this one, but in training I saw he’s still struggling a little,” said Mazzarri before the Roma match.
Inter Milan president Erick Thohir says that the club have no intention of parting ways with manager Walter Mazzarri despite a very poor campaign last season. Mazzarri was brought to the club with a big reputation of making teams excellent with a limited budget. However, he spent a substantial amount of money in his first season at Inter, but failed to show any reasons for it. This is after the team once again finished without any form of European football qualification for the upcoming campaign. This was seen as one of the main objectives for the team when Mazzarri was appointed.
It has been rumoured that Inter have offered a contract extension for the 52-year-old, but an official announcement has not arrived yet. In the meantime, Thohir has confirmed that the club have no intention of parting company with Mazzarri. The 52-year-old came close to winning the title with Napoli in the last few seasons. Since his departure, his former team have slipped down the table and came almost to losing their Champions League spot towards the end of the season. It has been several years since Inter were last seen in Europe’s Premier competition.
Mazzarri’s current contract still has two years left to run and given the poor run of form, it is surprising that the club are looking at a new contract.
“We’ve had a good discussion, and [sporting director] Piero Ausilio and coach Mazzarri have had a good discussion. We should continue with the coach but we haven’t signed anything. He has a year on his contract, so it’s still two years: we’re adding one year so it’s two years. It will be until 2016. The market? We haven’t really discussed anything yet, we will see within the next few days,” said the club president about the future of Mazzarri.
Former Inter Milan legend Marco Materazzi has claimed that the club’s new president Erick Thohir is the right man to lead the club to more success in the future. After severe financial difficulties, Erick Thohir was appointed as the new president of the club. Even though Inter Milan have not really spent much in the last few transfer windows, it seems that the club are ready to open the wallets this time around. They have already brought in Nemanja Vidic on a free transfer from Manchester United. The Serbian defender will not only be providing excellent defensive capabilities, but also leadership as well.
Inter have also been linked with the likes of Fernando Torres and John obi Mikel in the last few weeks. Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is also expected to arrive at the San Siro on a season-long loan deal after his failure to establish himself in the first-team in the Premier league outfit. This new signings will certainly hold Inter in good stead according to former defender Materazzi. He says that he is confident that Inter will be able to return to Champions League next campaign.
The club finished in a disappointing fifth place last season after being involved in 15 draws throughout the campaign.
“I am sure that Erick Thohir will manage to give the shine back to Inter. I like the new leadership – it is ambitious and has brought a good amount of capital. That is something that shouldn’t be underestimated. Now it will be important to identify and bring in two more world class players. One has already arrived in (Nemanja) Vidic,” said the former Inter Milan defender. During his time at Inter Milan, Materazzi won numerous trophies including the Champions League in 2010. He retired from playing in 2011 after having made more than 200 league appearances for the club.
Inter Milan coach Walter Mazzarri has confirmed that he will remain as the manager of the club next season as well. There have been widespread reports that he will be sacked as the Inter Milan manager after failing to get the club into the top three of the table. Only the top three teams that qualified for the Champions League next season. This is very important for a club like Inter Milan with its rich European heritage. The club has won two European trophies in its illustrious history, but they have not been in the competition for the last two years.
After the change in ownership, the club provided Mazzarri with significant funds over the course of the first two transfer windows in order to strengthen the team. However, it has not worked according to plan after a poor second half of the season led the club into finishing fifth in the table. Even more disappointing for the club was the fact that they were a massive 18 points behind the third placed Napoli. Despite this, Mazzarri looks set to continue as the manager after the coach himself confirmed the same.
The club has also been voicing the same over the last few weeks, but reports about his position continue to float around.
“I’m definitely staying because I have a contract. I’ve already spoken about my contract with (technical director Piero) Ausilio, so it’s pointless that we continue to talk about it. I have a contract at Inter. I had to work with a contract that was running out before at Napoli and I did well there. The important thing is there’s great respect between us. I’m very happy with the phone call that came after the win against Lazio. Thohir called me, happy to have qualified for Europe,” said Mazzarri.