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Internazionale v Slavia Praha

'I can't instantly turn ducklings into swans' - Conte names himself 'main dunce' after poor Inter performance

4:11 AM EDT 9/18/19
Antonio Conte, Inter
The Serie A side remain undefeated in competitive play but can count themselves lucky to have picked up a point in Europe this week

Inter coach Antonio Conte has called for patience from fans as he implements his coaching style with the Nerazzurri, after the Italian side struggled to a 1-1 draw against Slavia Prague in their Champions League group stage opener on Tuesday evening.

The Czech outfit played aggressively at San Siro and took a deserved lead through Peter Olayinka, stunning the home side before substitute Nico Barella found the net deep in second-half added time to snatch a point and spare some blushes.

Inter remain unbeaten in competitive play this season as a result of Barella's late strike, but the warning signs from Tuesday's clash prompted former Chelsea boss Conte to urge perseverance from the outside as the players adapt to his tactical set-up and shouldered the blame for a poor showing.

“Slavia beat us in terms of intensity, determination, pace,” Conte said. “We showed nothing of our ideas of football. You seem to think I arrive here, touch and the ducklings turn into swans. There’s a lot of work to do and we need to improve. That was not our football.

“When I say we shouldn’t let ourselves get swept up in enthusiasm, I mean it. I am here to help these lads improve, so put the blame on me.

“I refuse to talk about individuals, because we were all below par today, starting from me. I am the first onto the naughty step, the main dunce.

“I generally hate the long ball and run routine, as that is not our football, but that’s what we largely did today. It wasn’t the plan. Slavia certainly played in a very European way, aggressive and with intensity.

“We didn’t do well to find solutions and get around that. In other games, we were up against sides who sat back and waited for us, whereas Slavia attacked us. We struggled and, to be honest, I am not satisfied with the performance.

“I must be the first to take responsibility, because evidently I didn’t have the effect I wanted in my initial choices or in explaining the kind of match we were going into.

“We could’ve done far better. This is not the kind of football we are training to play. We’ve got to improve in terms of character, too. But when I talk about a growth process, that comes from playing in games like this as well.”