On Wednesday afternoon Roberto Mancini spoke for the first time ahead of the new season, but he hardly spoke at all. The Inter boss appeared in front of the Italian media for his first official press conference of the year, but before long he had made it pretty clear that his mind was elsewhere.
Whether it be on his contract situation, new owners Suning, Wanda Nara, potential signings or his record with young players, he seemed unwilling to provide a meaningful answer on any of the important questions the journalists present at Brunico had to ask him, making for a relatively short appearance (just over 15 minutes) that only served to clarify one thing: Mancio isn't very happy.
The first question from the floor regarded his supposed discontent on the way Suning have conducted affairs since taking over Inter - reported by various sources over the last fortnight (too many sources for there to be nothing in it) - and his response was curt: "I love my job and I always do it to the best of my ability, everything else is unimportant. The only issue I've had lately is the bruise I got on my knee coming down from the mountains the other day."
The next question posed was on the ongoing spat between Wanda Nara and, er, seemingly the rest of the entire world over Mauro Icardi's future, to which he replied: "Icardi is working hard for me here and that's the only thing that matters for me. The other stuff isn't my concern."
In case anyone hadn't already realized he was fed up, his response to the third question, asking whether he felt involved in Inter's summer transfer campaign, hammered the message home: "I'm the coach and my job is to coach whoever is here, that's it. Soon we'll have all the players who've played for their national teams over the summer."
Has Mancini spoken with Suning much since they arrived? "Yes, I spoke to them two weeks ago when they got here and that's it, there's not much else to say." Are Gabriel Jesus and Joao Mario players that interest him? "Gabriel Jesus is a young player who has great potential, if he preserves his quality he could become a great forward. Joao Mario is more like Brozovic, a central midfielder who can also play as a winger but isn't a natural fit there. They're both good, but everyone needs time to settle in when they come to Italy; even Platini and Van Basten needed time."
Would he like to renew his contract given that his current one runs out at the end of the season, and is Jovetic going to leave this summer? "Jovetic is an Inter player and he's training well, I don't know what could happen but I don't think so. The contract situation isn't important. A lot of people talk about projects in football, but here in Italy they don't really exist. I have one year left on my contract, so does Ausilio."
What's missing from this team? "Not much. We had a great season last year, all the players you were criticizing at the start of the season are now attracting interest from Europe's best clubs. Our aim this year is to do better than last year." Could Éver Banega be the player Inter have been looking for? Where will he play? "Banega is a tactically anarchic player, he starts as a no. 10 player but then drops deep to pick up the ball and also likes moving out wide. He has character and charisma, which is important. I just put the players out that I have. It's not true that I prefer muscular players to quality, it's absolutely not true."
Mancini supposedly wants to sign Yaya Toure, but the club wants to sign youngsters instead. Is this the case? "It's not true I don't use youngsters, I don't think there's a coach in Inter's history who has given more debuts to young players than I have, at least 40 have debuted with me. Every team needs young prospects for the future, as well as experts who can help those youngsters to grow."
Is it fair that Mauro Icardi retains the captain's armband this year given everything that's been said? "I don't know what's been said. I don't read the newspapers, I don't listen to the radio and I don't watch the TV, the only thing that interests me is what Mauro does on the pitch. I'm only interested that he commits himself and scores 20 goals for us this season, the rest you'll have to ask the club about." And finally, is there anyone in particular that you'd prefer the club not to sell? "I don't know, you'd have to ask the club. I'm the coach. The core players in the squad aren't for sale, I don't know about the rest. That's not a question I can answer."
In other words, that press conference was a complete waste of time. Mancini had absolutely no interest in being there, he only turned up because he had to and in doing so he could not have made his discontent any clearer, despite what he said when the question was put to him. He repeated at least four times that he isn't in charge of transfers and that therefore it's not something that concerns him, which is a radical change of stance from previous months when he would spend hours on end discussing that very subject, as he knew he was the only man who had any say on who left and who joined Inter (back when Thohir was in charge). He refused to clear up any issues regarding his future at the club, which suggests he doesn't have one, refused to comment on the Wanda Nara saga and refused to any answer that was more than two sentences long, which gave the impression of someone who feels dejected and is experiencing extreme tension behind the scenes.
In short, our season could not really have started in a worse manner, and these next nine months could well be an unmitigated disaster that moves us even further away from a return to the top of Italian football. Happy pre-season, everyone!