With his team set to face England in a friendly match on Tuesday, Italian coach Antonio Conte admits that they still have a lot of to things to do in order to catch up with their rivals in Group H of the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
“It’s such a strange period for the Italian football system that we have to have the humility to realise where we are and how hard we have to work,” Conte said during an interview.
He also noted teams that they have previously outranked are now ahead of them in the standings. “We shouldn’t be surprised that teams like Croatia are ahead of us. “They’ve shown at this moment on the pitch that they’re ahead of us.”
Comte also called on the fans to be more patient with the team’s progress. “We have to be patient,” he stressed “I’ve been saying that for a while. We have to open our eyes, and grasp the reality of the situation.”
On the other hand, the coach noted the fans’ support of the team’s efforts. “The fans need to support Italy, so I think I have an excellent relationship with them. They know we’re working hard.” Conte had allegedly received death threats from some disgruntled fans a month back.
When queried about concerns that the new players in the team don’t seem to be holding well, Comte was quick to defend his latest recruits. “Please don’t slate them at the first opportunity as this is not good for the players,” he urged. “it’s not good for my job and it’s not good for Italian football.”
“You need to allow the players to grow without being critical at every opportunity. We have to all be aware that there’s a turnover in generations.”
Conte also dismissed reports that he is contemplating to quit due to Italy’s current performance. “Let us work, we need it. We have not much time, we will do the maximum to qualify, I can promise a great job by all of us.”