Leonardo: Milan deserved title
Inter Milan coach Leonardo last night admitted his former club AC Milan were deserving Serie A champions. Massimiliano Allegri's side picked up the point they needed on Saturday to secure their first Serie A title since 2004 with a goalless draw against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico.
And Leonardo, who left the Rossoneri helm last summer after a 13-year association with the club and took over at Inter in December, had no complaints. He told www.inter.it: "I try to follow my own path. My only regret is that we didn't win it, as we almost overtook them.
"However, AC Milan did deserve it. They are a good team and I have no problem whatsoever looking back at my past. If I sent a message to [Milan vice-president Adriano] Galliani? That's between us. What's private stays private."
Leonardo was named as Rafael Benitez's successor at Inter on Christmas Eve and took over a side that were in seventh place in Serie A, 13 points behind leaders Milan. They guaranteed their automatic place in the UEFA Champions League yesterday with a 3-1 win over Fiorentina at the San Siro, moving four points clear of third-spotted Napoli in the process.
The Brazilian said: "This victory was necessary to keep us on track for our targets: to get a Champions League place for next season and to finish second. It was another game in which our maturity and the awareness of our own limits and ability came out. We are pleased. This team really has done so much and has shown how good they are."
Giampaolo Pazzini put the Nerazzurri ahead in the 25th minute yesterday with Esteban Cambiasso making it 2-0 three minutes later. Alberto Gilardino gave the visitors hope in the 74th minute, but Philippe Coutinho restored Inter's two-goal advantage just two minutes later to seal the win.
Leonardo has a contract until June 2012 and plans to fulfil that, despite speculation linking Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola with a summer move to the San Siro. "I move ahead with enthusiasm and as regards my future," he said. "It has never occurred to me to leave Inter.
"I have a contract and I intend to respect it even if I realise that managers are always judged on their results. I'm here and I like it. I want to stay here.
"The rumours about Guardiola? Guardiola to my mind is exemplary: he was brought up at Barcelona, then he became coach of Barcelona and today he is what he is. Maybe one day he'll decide to try something different. Each manager has his own path to follow."