Leonardo proud despite title loss

Inter Milan coach Leonardo said his players can be proud of their Serie A season, after rivals AC Milan clinched the title on Saturday.AC Milan’s 0-0 goalless draw at Roma gave them a nine-point lead over their cross-town adversaries, who have three games still to play, but because of Inter’s inferior head-to-head record their dreams of a sixth successive Scudetto have been thwarted.

But Leonardo, who has engineered a remarkable turnaround in the clubs league fortunes since taking over from Rafael Benitez in December, said his men have nothing to be ashamed of.

“We’re in second place in Serie A, we reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League,” the Brazilian said.

“The year before, we won everything, and we can still win this year’s Coppa Italia.”

“The team is producing consistent results, the players we’ve had at our disposal this season have performed well.”

“We can look at each game, but the general reading of this season can only be a positive one because that’s the reality, that’s where we are today.”

Inter’s season turned in a three-day period in early April, when they were routed 3-0 by Milan in Serie A and then suffered a 5-2 mauling at home against Schalke in the Champions League, a deficit that proved insurmountable in the second leg.

But Leonardo said he was unsure if it was he or his players who should shoulder the blame for those results.

“Games can be won or lost, mistakes can happen, it’s only natural,” he said.

“I don’t know if I can pinpoint one particular mistake, because we are talking with the benefit of hindsight. Of course, we made some errors but we also benefitted from other team’s mistakes, so it’s all subjective.”

“I don’t think the players who played in the derby or against Schalke could have done anything to radically change the results in those games. I don’t think so.”

“But those players were going through a particular moment and they didn’t manage to close the game, or maybe it was me, I don’t know, there are different reasons.”

Inter are now playing for second place with Napoli, who are just one point behind, and they received further bad news ahead of their home clash with Fiorentina on Sunday with influential Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder ruled out with injury.