Benitez walking a tight rope


ROME, December 9 – Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti has warned coach Rafael Benitez that failure is not an option at the Club World Cup next week.Inter leave for Abu Dhabi on Friday and play their first match next Wednesday against either hosts Al-Wahda or Seongnam Ilhwa of South Korea.

But with last season’s treble winners sitting a lowly fifth in Serie A, 10 points behind bitter city rivals AC Milan, and having finished second to Tottenham in their Champions League group following Tuesday’s 3-0 defeat at Werder Bremen, Moratti has told Benitez to show his mettle.

"I don’t want to create problems either before or during the Club World Cup but after we’ll see," he said.

"Benitez has to have character because otherwise we won’t win a competition like the Club World Cup.

"Psychologically I felt bad about the defeat (to Bremen) but I didn’t say anything to the players.

"When you lose you feel betrayed but that doesn’t mean I think the players did it on purpose.

"I think we don’t have enough character to overcome obstacles."

Last season character was one of Inter’s main strengths under now departed boss Jose Mourinho and Moratti clearly expects something similar from Benitez’s team.

"We’ll pick ourselves up because we have an important appointment," he said.

"We need great psychological support so that the players start doing what they were doing before.

"Benitez) needs to take hold of the team and make everything function like clockwork."

That last point sounded like a direct referrence to Mourinho who was well-known for his meticulous preparation, even planning training sessions to run for exactly 90 minutes.

Benitez has pointed often to a lengthy injury list as his team has struggled this season but Brazilian full-back Maicon, who has been injured for more than a month, claims that should not be an excuse.

"The problem is not injuries, we have a huge squad with great players," he said.

"Injuries can’t be an excuse. I don’t know what the problem is but we’ll try to find it so we stop messing up."