No foul play at Inter, as Pioli targets Viola trophy


Milan (AFP) – Italian Stefano Pioli brushed off suggestions of foul play at Inter Milan and said he has already targeted winning a trophy with his new charges Fiorentina.

Pioli, who made a career-high 154 appearances with Fiorentina as a centre-back, on Tuesday signed a two-year deal with the option of an extra year, to coach the Florence-based club.

Playing down his sacking by Inter with three games to play last season, the 51-year-old hopes his passion and the commitment of his players will help achieve his dream of “winning a trophy” in Florence.

“I’ve no regrets” about Inter Milan, Pioli told media at his official presentation on Wednesday. “I gave it everything. Now, all that matters for me is Fiorentina, I will give everything for this squad.

“I promise hard work with plenty of passion, and we’ll try to give the fans the satisfaction they deserve.

“Fiorentina has had some great results in recent seasons, but now we start a new cycle. We’ll be focusing on young players, if possible Italian,” he added.

“This is one of our objectives, creating a squad with a winning mentality. I would love to win a trophy with Fiorentina.” 

Pioli’s appointment means fans will also be hoping for a return to qualifying for Europe.

He led Lazio to a third-place finish in his first season with the club in 2014-2015, only to be sacked in April 2016 after a 4-1 derby defeat to Roma.

Pioli took over from sacked Inter Milan coach Frank De Boer on November 8, leading Inter to a 2-2 derby draw with AC Milan in his first game in charge of the Nerazzurri.

But after steering the club to 12 victories in his first 16 games at the helm, Inter’s troubles began in March. 

Following a 7-1 San Siro rout of Atalanta, Inter went on an eight-match winless run featuring six defeats and including humiliating reverses to Sampdoria and Crotone that saw them fall out of contention for a place in Europe.

Amid reports exciting Italy and forward Federico Bernardeschi could be swayed with a big-money move, Pioli said he will now “call all the players” to decide who “wants to stay and commit themselves to the club”.

“I don’t have to convince anyone, whoever gives their maximum to this squad is welcome,” he said.

“Whoever isn’t sure, it’s best they speak up because I need players who are willing to give their soul for the jersey.”

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