Inter needs to look to its youth team, Spalletti says

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2017 file photo then Roma coach Luciano Spalletti smiles prior to an Italian Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Roma, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy. In his first press conference since being confirmed as Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti on Wednesday, June 14, 2017 said the Nerazzurri should fear no one if they are to cut the gap between them and six-time reigning Italian champion Juventus. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, file)

MILAN (AP) For inspiration, Inter Milan would do well to look at its own youth team.

Inter finished seventh in the Italian league last season, while the youngsters won the Primavera league title.

”They brought home a very important result,” said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti, speaking for the first time since taking over. ”I hope that our guys take a lesson from this success. Normally it is them who look up to us, this time it is us who have to look at them. They do us honor.”

The 58-year-old Spalletti, who spent the last season and a half at Roma, appeared at his first news conference Wednesday. He is Inter’s fifth coach in less than a year.

The team, which has not won a trophy since taking the Club World Cup title in 2011, has been in a downward spiral since Roberto Mancini resigned suddenly last August. Mancini was replaced by Frank de Boer, who lasted until November. Stefano Pioli guided the club until early May, when he was fired toward the end of an eight-match winless streak.

Stefano Vecchi, the youth team coach, took over Inter for one match after De Boer’s firing, and then again for the final three games of the Serie A season after Pioli was fired.

”Everyone is asking themselves how it is possible to have Inter out of European competition these years, as if it is a scandal,” Spalletti said. ”From the outside that’s how it seemed to me, too, I wanted to be part of this difficult period to have the right reaction.

”I’m not better than my predecessors, but I’m different. We’ll work in my way because I trust in my way of doing things and I ask the players to trust in me because I will back them 100 percent in any situation, whatever happens, with all my being. We have to bring Inter back to where their history tells us they should be.”

That Club World Cup title came a year after Inter won a treble, highlighted by the Champions League title under then-coach Jose Mourinho. But last season, Inter finished 29 points behind Juventus, which won a record sixth straight Serie A title.

”Last year I didn’t see all that difference that there was in points between Inter and Juve,” Spalletti said. ”We have to respect them because of their strength, but respect shouldn’t be confused with fear.”

Financial details of Spalletti’s two-year contract have not been announced, but the deal is reportedly worth 4 million euros ($4.5 million) per season.

Besides two spells at Roma, Spalletti has also coached Empoli, Sampdoria, Venezia, Udinese, Ancona and Zenit St. Petersburg.