Serie A

Mancini: I coach Inter, not just Icardi

Roberto Mancini stood by his decision to drop Mauro Icardi for Inter’s 1-0 win over Genoa on Saturday, insisting the team is more important than the captain.

The 22-year-old was the joint highest scorer – the Capocannoniere – in Serie A last season but has struggled in front of goal this term, netting just four times in 12 top-flight outings.

And after naming him among the substitutes for the visit of Genoa, the Inter coach insisted the team takes precedence and the Argentine cannot get frustrated at starting on the bench on occasion.

“I am the coach of Inter, not of Icardi and Jovetic. We have many excellent forwards and they all deserve playing time,” Mancini told Sky Sport Italia.

“I do believe Icardi and Jovetic can play together, but there’s a team to be considered and others who also deserve to play.

“Icardi only missed two games out of 15 this season, it can happen.

“He knows if we are to get into the Champions League, then his goals will be crucial, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be on the bench occasionally.

“Our four forward players today did really well in the first half, running hard and giving no reference points to opposition defenders. The only thing we lacked before the break was a goal.”

Felipe Melo continued after suffering a blow to the head in the first half but was replaced at half-time, and Mancini revealed the details behind the decision.

“He came off and did not remember anything, but wanted to return. He wanted to play on after the first half, but we preferred to change it.”

The win over Genoa saw Inter return to first place, two points ahead of Napoli, who can regain the lead by beating Bologna away on Sunday.

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