Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri has pleaded for patience saying he is not a magician and cannot wave a magic wand to turn around the club's fortunes. The Milanese giants have had a disastrous start to the Serie A season, losing five of their opening nine matches, winning only two, earning just eight points and sitting one place and one point above the relegation zone.
Any faint hopes they may have had of mounting a title challenge seemed to die on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at home to Juventus to drop to 11 points behind the league leaders. But Ranieri believes knee-jerk reactions won't solve their problems and says it's too early to write off the players who 18 months ago won an unprecedented treble.
"We have to wait until the end of the season but when I see them train they don't look worn out," said Ranieri. "Give me time and faith and you'll see that I'm right. This team still has a lot to give. When things aren't going well you need to know how to stay calm and evaluate everything.
"There are many great players here, let me analyse them. We have people monitoring the football world. When the moment comes they will tell me what they've seen that could improve us. I expected difficulties and when I came here I was ready to overcome them with the help of the team. I try to solve problems by always training harder and I expect us to get through this negative period.
"Those who used to score goals will score some more. We need to wait and be strong mentally and physically in this difficult moment. I'm not the Wizard of Oz, I expected to face difficulties and I want to overcome them with the team. We're on the right path."
Things have not been so bad in the UEFA Champions League despite suffering a shock home defeat to minnows Trabzonspor in their opening game. Since then they have won away to both CSKA Moscow and Lille, putting i Nerazzurri top of Group B. And ahead of their clash with the French champions at the San Siro tomorrow, Ranieri says his team should not forget who they are.
"We're a big team, we're going through a unique moment in our history but we're still a big team," he said. "We have the maximum respect for Lille who haven't lost away from home in a long time hence they're pretty good. They beat AC Milan in Milan so we respect them but we'll try to win to secure qualification.
"We're used to highs and lows, that's part of football, everything goes well or badly. When I said they need to clean their minds I meant banish them of negative thoughts leaving only positive things. They're receptive, strong mentally with strong characters. That strength is my strength. They were disappointed after Juve, they wanted to do well against a huge team which is flying with the wind. We didn't play badly, we made tactical mistakes but we're on the right path."
Despite Inter's troubles Argentine forward Diego Milito is still targeting a strong Champions League campaign. "Tomorrow's game is an important challenge because after a defeat we've always shown the desire to bounce back and play straight away," he said. "Tomorrow we have a great opportunity to show that we're still alive, we're playing a great team but we'll try to win, in part to find some tranquility but also because it's important to win the group in view of the draw (for the second round)."