MILAN (Reuters) – Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte has only been in charge for 13 games and the famously fiery coach is already on the warpath over his team’s crowded fixture list, though whether his anger is justified is another matter.
Inter will visit Bologna on Saturday in the latest stage of a marathon which sees them play seven matches — five in Serie A and two in the Champions League — in a 21-day period, something Conte described as “very strange.”
He did not enlarge on why he thought that, however, and at first glance the complaint appeared unjustified as other Serie A teams involved in European competition are facing a similar predicament, as are other teams around Europe.
It may, however, have been a quiet reference to the fact that Inter’s sequence began on Sunday Oct 20 and will end on Saturday Nov 9, while Serie A leaders Juventus began a similar run a day earlier and will end a day later.
“We’re only halfway there, as we have another game with Bologna, then Borussia Dortmund,” said Conte after the 2-1 win at Brescia on Tuesday.
“It’s an anomaly and I haven’t seen any other side with a fixture list like that, so it seemed very strange to me.”
Conte’s complaint also appeared to be aimed at his own club, suggesting that his squad is too thin to be able to battle on two fronts.
“We are using the same players,” he said. “All I can do is thank the lads for the spirit that they showed.”
He was particularly worried about his strikeforce of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez.
“They have played practically every game this season and the risk is that someone gets hurt because they aren’t given any rest,” he said. “If that happens, it becomes a genuinely big problem.”
Again, those may seem like crocodile tears when considering that Inter spent more than 150 million euros ($167.28 million) on new signings but, on the other hand, Alexis Sanchez is out injured and Valentino Lazaro has simply failed to live up to expectations.
Conte got some sympathy from the club with chief executive Giuseppe Marotta admitting his concern was legitimate.
“We’ll see what the January transfer market offers,” he said.
Former Inter director Ernesto Paolillo also agreed with Conte. “He is right,” he said. “He needs to be listened to when he complains.”
However, others, such as former Inter forward Aldo Serena were less sympathetic.
“It is true that his style is very tiring for the players but I have read the statistics relating to Liverpool. All of their players have also played many games and they always manage to play at a high tempo,” he said.
“It is true that Inter are playing a lot but certain things do not have to be said. He has players on the bench who can play a part if necessary.”
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(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge)