Having only taken over at the club little more than a week ago, the former Ajax boss acknowledged that it will take him time to implement his methods but insisted he knows exactly what he wants to do to make the club a force again.
Here is what the Inter boss had to say”
Frank, when did you first realise you would become coach?
“A couple of weeks ago I was approached through my agent. I gave my approval instantly as I thought the project at Inter was interesting. We discussed it later and everything fell into place quickly.”
What does Inter mean to Frank de Boer?
“The tradition, they are one of Italy’s great clubs. If you think of Italian football, you think of the big three: Inter, Milan and Juventus. Great Dutch players have always been in Milan like [Wim] Jonk, [Dennis] Bergkamp on the one hand and [Frank] Rijkaard, [Marco] van Basten and [Ruud] Gullit on the other. The prestige of the club influenced my choice.”
What do you think of Italian football? In the past, you didn’t hide your preference for other leagues.
“I think in recent years, your football has made huge strides, especially in mentality as you think more about winning than avoiding defeat. A short time ago for example, [Gianluigi] Buffon would never give the ball short to defenders as nobody wanted to take any risks. In short, the philosophy has changed as it isn’t just about being great at the back and having someone in attack who can change the game in your favour. It is no coincidence that Juve recently reached a Champions League final.”
From [Helenio] Herrera to Jose Mourinho, Inter have often been a team who have played on the counter-attack.
“I’m not here to change Inter’s history but my teams try to press the ball high, attacking together and defending together. I want us to do things as a unit.
So what is de Boer’s idea on football?
“It is played with all 11 players and indeed the whole squad. To always be organised and have a unity of purpose. Individuals can win a game but only teams win titles. If you want to win alone, then go play tennis. I want to involve the entire group. My attackers are just important to me working hard defensively as they are being close to the goal looking to score. Ronaldo scored 30 goals for PSV but won nothing. Only as a team will you always win.”
History suggests you prefer a 4-3-3 system. Do you have any fears about tactics in Italy? Do you believe there is more need for tactical flexibility here?
“It is true I prefer the 4-3-3 but we can also do something else like 4-2-3-1 and there is nothing negative about changing tactics. The opponent must always be considered, identifying their weaknesses but everything depends on the availability and quality of the players.”
When do you think you will have definitely stamped your mark on Inter?
“We’ll see my Inter after four months, that’s the norm. In January, you will have more of an idea about what we are trying to do as I have only arrived. We also must be very careful at the moment not to be too intense in training as it can lead to many injuries.
I remember [Jurgen] Klopp taking over at Liverpool last October and tried to immediately impose his high-pressing style which he used at Borussia Dortmund and it resulted in several injuries, nine in fact. Sometimes it is better to slow down.”
At Ajax, you worked with [Luis] Suarez – can [Mauro] Icardi reach those levels?
“Mauro is only 23 years old but has a lot of talent. He knows he has to work for the team as that is the correct mindset to have for players here. [Lionel] Messi never fails to work hard, you can never think that you have reached the top.
Icardi’s movements are fantastic though, he maybe has to realise that sometimes it is better to protect the ball and play the simple pass, for the interest of the team. He has been impressive in training and against Celtic. Obviously he wants to score but he can make a difference in so many ways.”
And [Ever] Banega? Will he be better behind Icardi?
“He’s a fantastic player because he can make such a big difference with the ball at his feet. He can do everything and has great intelligence. He may even be better a little deeper, directing the play. Men like him. [Antonio] Candreva and [Ivan] Perisic will be important.
Are Juve too strong for everyone else in Italy?
“They are a great team, their squad is exceptional but it isn’t always easy after bringing in so many big names and we don’t know yet how that will effect them.”
What is Inter’s goal?
“Getting into the Champions League. With good organisation and the right mindset, you can do just about anything in football. However, we know that Roma, Napoli, Lazio, Fiorentina and Milan are all good teams and must be respected.”
You start on Sunday with Chievo, a typically Italian side if you will. Have you already studied them?
“I know they play a wide 4-4-2, are a team who have no fear and can counter-attack well. It will be a good test for me because we know that we must defend well as a team. There are serious risks for us in this game but we are looking forward to it.”