Fearless De Boer braced for Inter challenge

MILAN

MILAN: Dutchman Frank de Boer vowed he was up to the challenge of reviving Inter Milan’s fortunes Tuesday as he officially took over at the helm of the Serie A club.

“I’m used to pressure. I realise the fans have great expectations… I’m convinced they’ll be happy with the way we play,” De Boer said as the club unveiled the successor to ousted coach Roberto Mancini.

He also brushed off the challenges of donning the trainer’s hat in a new country, quipping drily “it’s still 11 players against 11”.

The Dutchman, who has signed a three-year contract with the San Siro outfit, was defiant on two issues.

The first, that five-time reigning Serie A champions and bitter rivals Juventus were by no means invincible.

“Nothing is impossible, no-one is unbeatable. Sometimes things change, we will definitely play our hardest to make their lives as difficult as possible,” he said.

He also vowed he would be holding on to Mauro Icardi, Inter’s 23-year old captain, who is being persistently courted by Napoli according to Italian media reports.

De Boer, 46, who left Ajax at the end of last season, touched down in the northern Italian city of Milan late Monday to take over from Mancini, who left amid reports the club’s new Chinese owners wanted fresh blood at the helm.

He was due to take charge of first team training later Tuesday. He will have under two weeks to sign more players before the Serie A season starts against Chievo on August 21.

Great opportunity

He said the Inter squad had more experience than Ajax so he expected them to learn more quickly. Asked how long it would be before the Nerazzurri fans would see results, he said certainly after the winter break but hopefully from the get-go.

Coming in with little time to spare before the season kicks off was “not an ideal situation” and would “not be easy” he admitted.

Quizzed on whether he had his eyes on Brazil forward Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa, the Santos star currently being wooed by numerous teams, De Boer said he was “interesting, but we’ll have to see whether we manage to get him.”

The Dutchman, who won four straight Eredivisie titles between 2011 and 2014 as Ajax coach, paid his respects to Mancini, who left Monday after failing to usher the club back into the Champions League and reportedly falling out with the owners over transfers.

De Boer, the most capped outfield player in the history of the Netherlands national team, had been linked with Premier League clubs Southampton and Everton before those positions were filled.

Rumours he had been sought after by AC Milan as well were not true, he told journalists Tuesday.

Pressed on whether inroads made by China in Italian and English football could hurt the game with Inter itself being bought out by the Chinese investment group Suning in June — the Dutchman shook his head.

“It’s a great opportunity for Inter, Italian football and European football in general,” he said, noting cash injections from Chinese investors meant the best players could be paid to stay.

In a statement, his new club said De Boer “brings with him a wealth of international experience having played at the highest level for both club and country”.

At club level for Amsterdam’s AFC Ajax he lifted five Eredivisie titles, the UEFA Champions League trophy, the UEFA Cup, the UEFA Supercup, and the Intercontinental Cup. He also played for Barcelona, Galatasaray and Rangers.