Milan (AFP) – Embattled Inter Milan coach Frank De Boer has called for patience amid a frustrating start to the campaign that has already dented hopes of contending the Serie A title.
Inter kickstart their Europa League campaign against Hapoel Beer-Sheva on Thursday but first face a tricky trip to league newcomers Pescara Sunday, a week before hosting Serie A champions Juventus.
After a shock opening defeat to Chievo and a limp 1-1 draw at the San Siro with Palermo last time out, De Boer is under pressure less than a month after succeeding sacked Roberto Mancini.
The Dutchman said he accepts the flak, but, following the disruption of the international break last week, insists he needs more time to get the ‘Nerazzurri’ firing on all cylinders.
“The criticism is normal, I’m the new coach and I’ve come in here from a different country,” De Boer told media Saturday.
“But you have to look at the big picture, I only arrived here a few days before the opening game of the season so I need some time.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. This is Inter Milan, the pressure is normal but for me it’s not a problem. I’m sure we’ll find success soon.”
Inter, Italy’s last Champions League winners in 2010 when they completed the treble under former coach Jose Mourinho, have struggled in recent seasons.
Even the return of Mancini, who led the club to seven trophies including three consecutive league titles in 2004-2008, failed to provide the spark after he was drafted in by the club’s former owner, Indonesian Erick Thohir.
A recent takeover by the Chinese Suning Holdings Group, and a subsequent summer spending spree that helped lure Joao Mario from Sporting Lisbon and Gabriel ‘Gabigol’ from Brazilian side FC Santos, has injected fresh hope.
But anything less than a win at Pescara on Sunday would dent morale ahead of a crucial week that could see De Boer either vilified, or revered by fans.
The former Ajax manager, who could hand former Sporting Lisbon midfielder Mario his Inter debut, is relishing the challenge — even if time to work fully with the squad has been at a prime.
“We’re looking forward to the next three games. The only downside is the fact we haven’t had the chance to train all together. A lot of the players were on international duty so I only had seven players on the pitch,” he said.
“But the squad is determined to improve and start collecting some points. Already, I’ve seen improvements that I’m satisfied with and I think we’ve taken a couple of steps forward.”
Mario, fresh from winning the Euro 2016 title with Portugal, is “ready”, added De Boer — although the Dutchman was tight-lipped on where exactly the midfielder would play.
“He’s ready, so he’ll travel with us tomorrow (Sunday),” added De Boer.
“He’s a complete midfielder that we can use in various positions whether in the centre of the park or out wide. That’s a big advantage for us.”
Ahead of the weekend fixtures, Inter sit in 17th place with one point, five shy of league leaders Genoa after two games.
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