Roberto Mancini has conceded Inter Milan would be prepared to go without European competition for a season if it helped the struggling Italian Serie A giants regain championship-winning form.
Mancini returned for his second spell in charge at Inter in November, but the transformation from league also-rans to Serie A title challengers remains a work in progress. Inter are currently tenth, 32 points adrift of leaders Juventus, 17 behind Lazio in the third and last UEFA Champions League place and ten behind fifth-placed Fiorentina in the league’s final UEFA Europa League qualifying spot.
With nine games remaining, the chances of European competition next season for Inter – Italy‘s last Champions League winners in 2010 when they won the treble – look slim.
“I’m at a huge club and I came back because I believe we can get back to the top again,” Mancini said on Friday. “Inter is still Inter. Not playing in Europe for a season wouldn’t be a disaster, it means we’ll work hard to build a stronger team.”
Although city rivals AC Milan are also in the doldrums, Filippo Inzaghi’s men are three points ahead of Inter in eighth position and host Sampdoria on Sunday looking to win their third successive league game for the first time this season. Inter travel to Verona looking to end a five-game winless streak – an objective which seems a prerequisite if they are to garner any confidence going into next week’s Milan derby.
Mancini and Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio lashed out at a number of players last week following a scoreless home draw with basement side Parma. And Mancini believes his squad simply have to knuckle down and sweat more than their opponents if they are to start emerging from their slump.
He added: “I’ve been a bit harder on them (players) this week to make them understand that often you only get the result if you put in more effort than your opponents on the pitch.
“We need to remember that simply being Inter is not enough to win football matches. We need some success in the next nine matches to set ourselves up well for next season.”