‘The evaluation is good’: Inter Milan president Steven Zhang gives manager Antonio Conte vote of confidence despite Italian coach’s claims he could leave the Serie A club after Europa League final defeat to Sevilla
Inter Milan president Steven Zhang has backed Antonio Conte despite fears the Italian may leave the Serie A club after Friday’s Europa League final defeat.
The Nerazzuri were beaten 3-2 by Sevilla in the thrilling Cologne final after Romelu Lukaku scored a late own-goal having given Inter the lead from the penalty spot.
Conte admitted after the game that the defeat could have been his last game in charge of Inter, but Zhang has praised the work of the Italian and his staff over the season.
Inter Milan chief Steven Zhang (right) has given boss Antonio Conte (left) a vote of confidence
Conte’s Inter ended a trophyless season with a Europa League final loss to Sevilla on Friday
President Zhang said: ‘The evaluation is good. Our path has allowed us to get to a final and play in a historic match.
‘We are playing really well, winning or losing is part of football but we came to the final full of confidence.
‘We will rest, that’s what the players and the staff deserve. In the coming weeks and months we will talk about the future but what is certain is that we want to improve.
‘It hasn’t worked out this time, but we’ll try again next year. That’s the beauty of sport – to try your best and try to improve.’
The Italian coach told reporters after the game that he could leave Inter Milan this summer
Conte’s Inter also finished runners-up in the Serie A table, ending the campaign one point behind Scudetto leaders Juventus, who sacked boss Maurizio Sarri this month.
Inter also crashed out of the Coppa Italia at the semi-final stage to eventual winners Napoli, meaning Conte ended his first season in charge at the San Siro without a trophy.
The Italian coach also slammed the Inter hierarchy in the press after they surrendered the league title to Juventus earlier in the season, claiming his side were forced to ‘eat dung’ throughout the 2019-20 campaign.
Zhang has claimed that Inter have played well over the past year under Conte
The 51-year-old manager confirmed that he will meet with Inter Milan chiefs in the comings days to discuss his future, which could depend on what is best for his family too.
Conte told reporters after the Sevilla defeat: ‘It has been difficult and we’ll figure things out. It has been wonderful for me to be the coach of Inter, I thank the owners who allowed me to go through this great experience.
‘If some situations end up affecting my family, that is no longer enough for me. Everything has its limits, I have to see where my limits are.
Conte (left) has a rough relationship with the Inter board and will meet with them in a few days
‘We’ll clarify the situation, without rancour. Something happened, there’s no point beating around the bush. We have to see whether everyone is prepared to not have another year like this for what happened with me.
‘There are a few situations I will evaluate, it’s only right the President evaluates it too, I’ll tell the directors my views.’
But Zhang praised Conte’s work over the course of the season ahead of the crunch talks coming up.
The Inter president added: ‘I have got to remember that him (Conte) and his staff are doing a big job. As I said, we will rest and then plan for the future straight away.’