De Boer praises Icardi mentality amid ultras row

The Argentine striker has caused uproar among a section of the club’s fans due to criticisms in his autobiography, but he has won the support of his boss

Mauro Icardi’s mentality has been praised by Inter head coach Frank de Boer despite sections of the club’s support calling for the striker to be stripped of the captaincy. 

Inter ultras have hit out at the Argentina forward after he criticised them in his autobiography, with the club’s president Javier Zanetti critical of Icardi as a result.

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But De Boer backed his skipper after he faced down the critics in a 1-0 win over Southampton in the Europa League on Thursday.

“Icardi played very well against Southampton and worked hard off the ball,” De Boer said ahead of Sunday’s Serie A game at Atalanta. 

“He always wants to score, but in my view he sent a signal to the team: ‘I am the captain and I am the first to work hard’.

“It was not easy, but I am happy with what he did. Tomorrow is going to be a difficult match and I want to see how my team is doing. We have our philosophy and in my view in the second part of the Southampton game we played better.”

While Icardi continues to face criticism, there has also been speculation about De Boer’s future, but the Dutchman is unconcerned about rumours he could be replaced.

“I just focus on working hard, as it’s the only thing I can do right now,” he said. “I have faith in everyone.
“My squad is made up of many men and it’s natural to be unhappy when you don’t play. I am very honest. Only 11 can start, so I must make my choices. It’s not easy, but that’s my job.”

De Boer hinted he will change his tactics against Atalanta, with midfielder Ever Banega among those who may be in line to take on a different role.

“At times it is better to play with a more advanced midfielder like Banega, at others with more defensive profiles,” he said. “The work of the full-backs is also important, but above all the mentality. We must attack the space, just as Joao Mario did against Cagliari.

“We must always play in an attacking way, but from the start, not after 20 minutes. In my view, discipline and approach are very important. I want to play in this way. I made a couple of changes against Southampton, but it was right for the situation.

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“This season we have adapted to the opposition twice already, the first being against Chievo. We want to win, the Saints are a strong side and physically imposing. They were in better shape than us, so it was only right we adapt to them.

“In general we mustn’t play with the handbrake on, as when we have the ball at our feet we need to focus only on our style of football. We made many crosses against Southampton, more than 20. That’s extremely positive, but we created only one actual scoring opportunity.”

Southampton boss Puel rues unfortunate Inter defeat

Jay Rodriguez was among the Saints players to see chances come and go in a narrow Europa League defeat at the San Siro

Southampton boss Claude Puel was left to rue what could have been after a series of missed chances cost his side in a 1-0 Europa League defeat at the hands of 10-man Inter Milan.

The visitors dominated for long periods at the San Siro, with Jay Rodriguez, Charlie Austin, James Ward-Prowse, Cuco Martina and Virgil van Dijk all going close.

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Inter, in contrast, created very little, but Antonio Candreva’s fine 67th-minute goal ultimately proved enough to condemn the Premier League side to their first defeat in Group K.

The hosts also managed to successfully negotiate the final 13 minutes a man down after Marcelo Brozovic collected a second yellow card, with goalkeeper Samir Handanovic pulling off a string of fine saves to preserve Inter’s lead.

“It is very hard to lose this game because we have had control of the game the whole time,” said Puel. “I think we are unlucky because we played a very good game with quality and had many, many, chances and it is a big disappointment.
“My players gave a good performance, but now we need to recover and think about the Premier League. For the moment, though, it is hard and disappointing for this club.”

Puel’s sentiments were echoed by club skipper Van Dijk, who drew a stunning save from Handanovic late in the game having latched on to a James Ward-Prowse free-kick.

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“It is very tough,” he said. “We were the team that deserved it most. You can see the goal was their only chance and it is frustrating. We should have buried the game in the first half. There was only one team who deserved to win, but in the end that is football. 

“I am a winner. I want to win and when you see things not go well it was frustrating. I had a big chance and was unlucky and as well with the header, but we should have finished the game in the first half. We had so many opportunities to win the game, but now we need to move on, recover well and be ready for Manchester City [on Sunday].”

Allegri wary of AC Milan after Inter defeat

The Italian champions have lost once this season, with that defeat coming to Frank de Boer’s side at San Siro, as they prepare to take to the Rossoneri on Saturday

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri says the team’s defeat to Inter has given him cause for concern ahead of Sunday’s Serie A clash with AC Milan.
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Seven wins from their opening eight games of the league campaign has given the champions an early five-point lead at the top of the table, with their sole defeat coming in a 2-1 loss to Frank de Boer’s side at San Siro last month.

While Inter have struggled to replicate that display since, city rivals Milan have enjoyed a five-match unbeaten run to take them level on points with second-placed Roma ahead of their meeting with Juve.

And Allegri, who guided Milan to their last Serie A title in 2011, admits to being wary of Vincenzo Montella’s in-form side.

“I have to congratulate Milan, because they’re having a great championship,” he said. “They have some good young players who will be the future of the Italy team.

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“Milan-Juventus matches are always very close. Against Inter, we went out as favourites and we got a good whack.

“We must be careful: Suso and [M’Baye] Niang have technique, [Carlos] Bacca attacks the area, [Giacomo] Bonaventura is a creator.

“We have a lot of respect for Milan. They’re a young team, they’re strong. They deserve second place, but the season is long.”

Allegri hopes to have Mario Mandzukic available after he missed the Champions League win over Lyon this week with an adductor injury, though Giorgio Chiellini (calf) and Marko Pjaca (leg fracture) are out.
Claudio Marchisio will again be part of the squad, however, after the Italy international completed an hour of a midweek friendly as he continues his recovery from knee surgery.

“The only one we can bring back is Mandzukic. Chiellini won’t be there, with a view to him being available for Wednesday. Neither will Pjaca,” Allegri said.

“Marchisio will be called up – he managed 60 minutes in a friendly game on Wednesday. [Daniele] Rugani worked with the group and we’ll see how much pain he has in his knee.”

Allegri is likely to leave Juan Cuadrado on the bench once more, despite him scoring the winner against Lyon.

“The numbers tell you – he’s been crucial. He deserves to start but I need players like him to make an impact off the bench,” he added.

Under-fire De Boer still sure of reaching knockout stages

Antonio Candreva’s superb strike earned Inter a fortunate win over Southampton that eased the pressure on the Dutch coach

Frank de Boer insisted Inter can still progress to the knockout stage of the Europa League following their 1-0 victory over Southampton at San Siro.

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The win was Inter’s first in Group K at the third attempt and the Serie A side more than rode their luck, as Southampton dominated for long periods, created a string of chances and were unfortunate not to earn at least a point.

Antonio Candreva rifled home what proved to be the only goal midway through the second half, but Inter were forced to play out the final 13 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of Marcelo Brozovic and were grateful to goalkeeper Samir Handanovic for making several saves.

The result snapped a three-game losing streak for Inter to ease the pressure on De Boer, who is eyeing a top-two finish in the group, though his side sit bottom, one behind second-placed Southampton.

“I must compliment the team,” he said. “We played with a lot of discipline.
“In the first half it was a bad game, but in the second half we did better and the goal from Candreva was fantastic. After the Brozovic red card we suffered, but I really want to give my compliments to the guys because we have held out to the end. 

“In the last 10 minutes we struggled, but we have a fantastic goalkeeper.

“We have to continue like this and win every game if we are to make the top two in the group. If we keep winning, we will have the chance to go through.”

With Inter currently languishing in 11th place in Serie A having won only three of their eight games, there had been speculation in the Italian media that a defeat against Southampton would see De Boer sacked after less than three months in charge.

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But the Dutchman played down suggestions that the players may have lifted their performance in a bid to keep him in the job.

“Did the boys play for me?” he said. “It is important that they played for Inter.

“I have faith in my team, in my players. In other matches they lacked concentration, but we played with discipline throughout the game. It is crucial for a team to always work together in order to achieve a victory like we did.”  

Inter return to league action on Sunday with a trip to Atalanta.

Inter 1-0 Southampton: Candreva grabs three points for hosts

The Nerazzurri held on after the expulsion of Brozovic to take three points, with Samir Handanovic coming up big with some key saves to frustrate the visitors

Antonio Candreva’s second-half goal proved enough to secure ten-man Inter’s first Europa League win of the season as they beat Southampton 1-0 at San Siro.

The Italian side had come into Thursday’s game rooted to the bottom of Group K having failed to win either of their opening two fixtures and looked set for more disappointment as the visitors dominated for an hour.

However, Candreva’s superb 67th-minute finish secured a win that, while undoubtedly fortuitous, served to relieve the pressure on under-fire boss Frank de Boer.

And the Dutchman’s side showed great resolve to seal the points having being forced to play out the final 13 minutes with ten men after Marcelo Brozovic picked up a second yellow card.

Another positive for Inter was the favourable reception afforded to skipper Mauro Icardi by the home fans following the Argentine’s well-publicised falling out with a section of the club’s support.

The result snapped a run of four consecutive European defeats for the hosts and maintained their hopes of progressing to the knock-out phase.

But for two superb saves from Samir Handanovic in the final five minutes, Southampton would have claimed at least a point, which was the minimum their performance deserved.

Southampton came close to gifting Inter an early goal when Cuco Martina’s loose backpass was pounced upon by Icardi and Fraser Forster had to react smartly to snuff out the danger.

Having survived that early scare, however, the visitors proceeded to dominate the rest of the half, Jay Rodriguez went agonisingly close to giving his side a deserved lead on 28 minutes.

Rodriguez connected with Sam McQueen’s fine low cross, only to see the ball cleared off the line by Yuto Nagatomo.

James Ward-Prowse then fired narrowly over the bar after fine approach work from Dusan Tadic, before the Serbian midfielder teed up Martina, who cut in from the right flank but fizzed his shot wide.

Rodriguez again went close in the 38th minute, just failing to get a meaningful connection on a Martina delivery at the far post with the goal gaping.

Inter threatened shortly before the interval when Eder unleashed a fierce shot from just outside the box that whistled narrowly past Forster’s right-hand post.

Rodriguez remained in the thick of things after the break as he was foiled by a last-ditch challenge from Miranda and carved out an opportunity for Charlie Austin, whose 20-yard drive flashed wide.

At that stage it seemed only a matter of time before the English side took the lead, but instead it was Inter who broke the deadlock completely against the run of play.

Davide Santon whipped in a low cross from the left and, having got in front of Virgil van Dijk to meet it, Candreva rifled a superb shot past the helpless Forster into the top-left corner. 

Brozovic’s senseless foul on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg then rightly earned him a second yellow and Inter were left to hang on.

And cling on they did as Handanovic first denied Van Dijk and then produced an even better save to foil Austin, with Ward-Prowse firing wide with the final chance of the match.

Bonaventura on Icardi saga: I'll wait until I've won something before writing a book!

The club’s captain has been embroiled in a bitter feud with sections of the support following his book release, and the Milan playmaker says he shouldn’t have written the tome

Milan playmaker Giacomo Bonaventura has delivered his verdict on the Mauro Icardi saga by saying he would not write a book until he has won some silverware.

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While Milan are flying high under Vincenzo Montella, city rivals Inter have been involved in an unwanted controversy surrounding their captain’s autobiography while they struggle for results under Frank de Boer.

Icardi infuriated Inter’s Curva Nord ultras after claiming in his book that he made himself a “hero” among his team-mates by standing up to one of the group’s leaders after a 3-1 defeat to Sassuolo in 2014-15.

Curva Nord declared Icardi to be “finished” as an Inter player and the striker was confronted by banners criticising him during the Cagliari match, where his missed penalty was cheered by sections of the home support.
Icardi was sanctioned by the club on Monday but retained the captaincy, with his agent and wife Wanda Nara saying the player will not be forced into a move.

Bonaventura was asked to comment and suggested he would not take the same approach as Icardi, who remains just 23 and is yet to win a major honour.

He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “If I wrote an autobiography it would be really boring!

“I don’t have many stories to tell. I will win something first and then we can talk.”

Icardi fan feud damaging Inter – De Boer

The striker has been embroiled in a bitter conflict with sections of the club’s support but the Dutchman is now keen to draw a line under the episode and move on

Frank de Boer believes the ongoing feud between captain Mauro Icardi and the Inter ultras is having a negative impact on the club.

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Inter host Southampton in Europa League Group K on Thursday looking to end a run of three consecutive defeats in all competitions, the last of which – Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to Cagliari – was played out amid a poisonous atmosphere at San Siro.

Argentinian striker Icardi infuriated Inter’s Curva Nord ultras after claiming he made himself a “hero” among his team-mates by standing up to one of the group’s leaders after a 3-1 defeat to Sassuolo in 2014-15.

Curva Nord declared Icardi to be “finished” as an Inter player and the 23-year-old was confronted by banners criticising him during the Cagliari match, where his missed penalty was cheered by sections of the home support.
Icardi was sanctioned by the club on Monday but has retained the captaincy and, with his agent and wife Wanda Nara saying the player will not be forced into a move, De Boer is keen to draw a line under the saga.

“The situation between Icardi and the Curva definitely had an effect,” he told a pre-match news conference. “It is not good for the team, the fans or the club.

“Everyone needs to make sure similar situations can be avoided in the future, not just Icardi. The staff and all the players need to stay focused on the match in hand. That is very important

“Mauro needs to take on board what happened and remember his responsibilities as captain. I think he understands that. He needs to set a good example for his team-mates.”

Inter can afford little more margin for error in Group K, having lost to Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Sparta Prague in their opening two games.

Forget about Icardi leaving Inter, says Wanda Nara

Argentine striker’s feud with the club’s largest ultra group will not lead to his departure from the San Siro, according to his wife and agent

Inter captain Mauro Icardi is “100 per cent” staying at the club despite the dramatic saga that has seen him clash with the club’s largest group of ultras, Wanda Nara says.

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Icardi infuriated sections of the Curva Nord ultras after a passage in his new autobiography suggested he had made himself a “hero” by standing up to one of the group’s leaders.

The 23-year-old claimed he had argued with the fan following Inter’s 3-1 loss to Sassuolo in 2014-15, after his shirt – which he attempted to give to a member of the crowd – was thrown back at him.

Banners were displayed during Inter’s 2-1 loss to Cagliari on Sunday claiming Icardi’s career with the club was “finished”, while sections of the home support ironically cheered when he missed a penalty.

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Inter fined Icardi for the saga but he has retained the armband, prompting Curva Nord to release an angry statement saying he is “not our captain and never will be”.

The Argentine’s agent and wife Nara, though, insists he will be remaining at the club and feels the majority of the club’s fans are behind the striker.

Asked if Icardi could leave Inter, she told Corriere della Serra: “Get that out of your head. 

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“He will not go away from Inter, will stay 100 per cent. He is – and will stay – the captain, which has not been in doubt. 

“He had opportunities to leave last summer but chose to stay because of the relationship he has with the fans and because he is attached to Inter. He does not want to have to start all over again.

“The newspapers spoke of an exaggerated fine, but it is not so. The fine is a small percentage of his gross monthly salary, as the rules say, and Mauro asked for it go to charity.”

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Nara believes her husband’s reaction to the saga caused by his rapidly selling book has been exemplary.

She continued: “Mauro didn’t want to offend anyone, but when certain things are written they have a different effect – it misrepresents the tone. 

“For this reason, he decided to take it off in the reprint. The book is almost sold out, in the new version those words will not be there. This suggests that Mauro is a decent person.

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“As soon as he heard someone was offended he wrote an apology and then got into his car to go to San Siro.

“Mauro is a very cool person, he does not feel the pressure. He’s focused on the job and does not care about the outside. But it was absurd – a similar situation you can expect away, not at home. He fails to convert few scoring changes, but against Cagliari he did miss a penalty.

“I almost cried, not for the mistake but for stadium reaction. I’ve never seen San Siro clap a player who missed a penalty. That applause explains that people love Icardi. If three-quarters of the crowd applauded him it is because he is an idol for the people.

“On Facebook there have been a million messages of solidarity. People wrote immediately to make him feel their affection. He is an idol for many children, an example as a player, man and father.”

Icardi punished but appears set to stay as Inter captain

The Argentine has again apologised for criticising the club’s fans and says he will amend his autobiography but has hinted that he will continue wearing the armband

Inter striker Mauro Icardi appears set to stay on as captain after issuing a further apology for his criticism of the club’s supporters.
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Icardi infuriated sections of the Curva Nord ultras after a passage in his new autobiography suggested he had made himself a “hero” by standing up to one of the group’s leaders.

The 23-year-old claimed he had argued with the fan following Inter’s 3-1 loss to Sassuolo last season, after his shirt – which he attempted to give to a member of the crowd – was thrown back at him.

Banners were displayed during Inter’s 2-1 loss to Cagliari on Sunday claiming Icardi’s career with the club was “finished”, while sections of the supporters cheered when he missed a penalty.

Inter sporting director Piero Ausilio had suggested that Icardi could be stripped of the captaincy in the wake of the controversy but, although he has been sanctioned by the club, it would seem that he has retained the armband.
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An Inter statement read: “Following a meeting this morning between management and Mauro Icardi, FC Internazionale announces that the captain will be sanctioned for contravening the club’s internal regulations as signed by every player.”

Though the details of his punishment were not confirmed, Icardi says he and the club are determined to put “this sorry incident behind us”.

He also stated that he would seek to have his autobiography amended to remove any pages that left fans feeling “offended, betrayed or threatened”.

“The last couple of days have been a sad period in my time with the Nerazzurri. Yet within a family – and I’ve always been taught that Inter is first and foremost one big family – tough times and misunderstandings happen.

“It all stemmed from a page of my book which was probably written in haste; a page where some of the tone wasn’t appropriate and I’m really sorry that the Inter fans got caught up in all this.

“This has offended a lot of people but you always need to look forward and, if possible, do everything in your power to get things back to normal.
“That’s why I’d like to apologise and I will make efforts to have those pages removed to avoid anyone feeling offended, betrayed or threatened.

“I’ve spoken to the club and we’ve put this sorry incident behind us and we all have one aim. We want the best for Inter because nothing is bigger than this club.

“That’s why I’ve accepted all of the club’s decisions. I will try to be more careful in future, something required of my role within the team. Now, more united than ever, we can prepare for our upcoming commitments with the utmost determination.”

Icardi also uploaded a matchday picture on his official Instagram page, in which his captain’s armband is clearly visible, captioned with the words “I’ll never leave her alone”.


#SolaNonLaLascioMai #MI9

A photo posted by Mauro Icardi (@mauroicardi) on Oct 17, 2016 at 8:28am PDT

RUMOURS: Napoli an option for Icardi

The under-fire Inter Milan striker could be offered a cut-price escape route from the San Siro during the winter transfer window

Napoli could offer Mauro Icardi a route out of Inter Milan in January, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Comments in the striker’s recently released autobiography have caused controversy at the San Siro, with Icardi incurring the wrath of a fan base now calling for him to be stripped of the captaincy and moved out of the club.

Napoli came close to reaching an agreement over the summer, before Icardi eventually signed fresh terms with Inter, but they could be tempted to rekindle their interest as reports suggest they could now get the 23-year-old for as little as €60million (£54m) – considerably less than his €110m (£99m) release clause.