MILAN (Reuters) - Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte’s frequent public criticism of the club last season was just part of an “honest discussion” with his employers, he said on Friday as they prepared to start the new season.
Conte’s relationship with Inter is likely to come under the spotlight again this season, his second with the club, as they attempt to end Juventus’s run of nine consecutive Serie A titles.
Inter, runners-up in Serie A and the Europa League last season, kick off at home to Fiorentina on Saturday.
Sitting alongside chief executive Giuseppe Marotta, the 51-year-old admitted that he did not enjoy last season as much as he should have done.
“I often think I am very hard on myself and I forget to enjoy the journey,” said the famously volatile Conte.
“When you see the chance to win, you try to do everything you can, but I realise I have to learn to enjoy these situations.”
On his relationship with Inter, he said: “I would not speak of misunderstandings, there have been discussions and different visions but, as in all good families, it is right that everyone can express their views.”
“There have always been honest and loyal discussions with those who work for the club.”
However, he would not commit himself to setting the Serie A title as the target. “No team has an obligation to win. Teams like Inter have the obligation to be protagonists and competitive until the end,” he said.
Marotta, meanwhile, sang Conte’s praises, saying that he understood the coach after the pair also worked together at Juventus for three seasons.
“Last year, we did an extraordinary job thanks to Conte: he has a great work ethic and nothing was overlooked,” he said.
“If there were no tension, there would be relaxation and this would not lead to the competitiveness that is needed.”
Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.