Antonio Conte has claimed he feels let down by Inter Milan bosses in a bizarre rant after his side finished his first season at the San Siro as Serie A runners-up.
The ex-Chelsea manager, who joined Inter in May last year, took the team to within a point of champions Juventus but attacked the club’s board for failing to protect his players from criticism when results were not going their way earlier in the campaign.
Venting his frustrations on the final day of the season despite Inter’s 2-0 victory over Atalanta, Conte complained he and his squad were forced to “take all the poop” in place of the club hierarchy and insisted he does not want to be a “lightning rod” next season.
Conte told Sky Sports Italia : “It has been a tough year on a personal level, very tough. I don’t think the players saw their work recognised and I don’t think I saw my work recognised.
"We all received very little protection from the club.
“We have to grow and improve in all areas, including off the field, and a big club should protect its players more. We’ll discuss it all at the end of the season. I have to meet the president (Steven Zhang) and he’s in China right now.”
Conte continued: “It was very, very intense this year, difficult, and the lads did well to isolate ourselves and create unity within us, despite the difficulties. I don’t like people who get on the bandwagon and I saw a lot of that with Inter this year.
“We had to take all the poop for months and got zero protection. My problem is that I have a vision, I see the path we have to take and I know what we need to do.
“I can be a lightning rod for the first year, but if you don’t learn and keep making the same mistakes, then that’s just crazy.
"If you want to reduce the gap with Juventus you have to be strong on the pitch but above all off it."
Conte made clear he was not making any references to Inter’s recruitment policy and simply wanted the club to show more faith in his long-term plans.
Inter chief Beppe Marotta, who worked with Conte previously at Juventus, responded, stating: "It is not easy to analyse objectively. Obviously we have dropped points, but we have learned from these situations too. We have seen an improving team.
"Negative experiences will become great qualities in the future. We must continue on this path, to raise the bar more and more and give satisfaction to the fans. We have a squad that has shown a lot and is up to par.
"Conte's work has made itself felt."
In the short term, Inter still have a chance of clinching silverware in 2019/20 as they have a one-off tie against Getafe in the Europa League last 16.
If they are successful against the Madrid side on Wednesday, Conte’s men will come up against Rangers or Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-final.
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