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Sunday 23 April 2017

Rafa tells Inter boss to back him or sack him

Italian Round-up

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti refused to answer questions on the future of Rafael Benitez yesterday but admitted the Spaniard's rant following their FIFA Club World Cup triumph had been "a bit out of place".

Benitez called on the club to back him in the transfer market in January or sack him after guiding Inter to a 3-0 win over Congolese side TP Mazembe in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.

On their return to Milan, Benitez was the hot topic but Moratti preferred to concentrate on the club ending a wonderful 2010 with another piece of silverware -- adding to their Serie A, Italian Cup and Champions League treble.

"I'm not going to talk about Benitez now," he said.

Moratti denied Benitez's post-match comments had put a dampener on the achievement, saying: "No, not for now. They were a bit out of place, perhaps, but they haven't spoiled anything for now. At the moment anyone who loves Inter is happy."

Benitez has come under fire recently with Inter lying seventh in the league, following last year's glittering season under predecessor Jose Mourinho.

Decimated

His squad has been decimated by injuries and the former Valencia and Liverpool boss believes it is important to strengthen the squad in January, if only to show the board have confidence in him.

"There are three possibilities for the club," he said. "One, 100pc support for the coach and buy four or five players to build a stronger team, with competition among the players to be able to carry on winning matches and trophies.

"Two, carry on like this without a project, without planning, and go ahead with one person to blame, for the whole season. The third is to speak to my agent to reach an agreement if there is not this support. Simple."

Back in Italy, AC Milan saw their lead at the top of Serie A slashed to just three points as Napoli and Lazio both took advantage of a slip from the 17-times league champions.

Milan's defeat to fifth-placed Roma gave hope to the chasing pack, and Edinson Cavani scored a second-half stoppage-time winner for the second game in a row as Napoli beat Lecce 1-0.

Cavani's goal, coming after the match-winner against Steaua Bucharest last week which sent Napoli through to the knockout stages of the Europa League, put the Naples side in second place -- level on 33 points with Lazio.

Irish Independent

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