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 By Ben Gladwell

Inter Milan can still do better despite excellent first half of season - Spalletti

Gab Marcotti evaluates the performances of Serie A's biggest clubs in the first half of the season as the Scudetto race heats up.

Inter Milan coach Luciano Spalletti has said his side can produce more despite being third in the table at the halfway stage.

Inter finished seventh last season but now have the same number of points Spalletti's former Roma team did at the same stage last time.

But the coach told Mediaset: "If I look at the points I had last year and what I have now, they are the same -- but I have got to aim for more.

"Therefore, I'm not happy with my work. I look above all at my results, not just those of the team. By that, I mean I look at whether I've succeeded in getting the best out of what I have available.

"I'd say the results have been great; we've done well, but we could still do better. We've not optimised all the strength we have, so we've got to get a move on in this second half of the season."

Inter have scored just one goal in their past four Serie A games, but Spalletti said Mauro Icardi was the man to help them end that run.

"To deal with such things you need specialists in all fields, and we have the best possible psychologist for goals and that is Icardi," he said.

"In fact, I'm going to get him to speak to the whole team before training and he will find the solution to get the team scoring goals again.

"Today, we did some shooting practice and the people who live in the villa behind the Pinetina [training ground] complained because not even one ball landed in their garden."

Luciano Spalletti
Luciano Spalletti wants more from his Inter side.

Inter face Fiorentina, managed by their former coach Stefano Pioli, at the weekend.

Pioli was sacked in May, six months after taking the reins, when his team suffered two draws and five defeats seven Serie A matches having won 12 of his first 16 in charge.

He told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "I know that our collapse seemed inexplicable, but it wasn't.

"We'd put so much energy into a crazy, impossible recovery [from a poor start to the season under Frank de Boer], and the defeat to Sampdoria was like a pin which perforated our motivation.

"But today, thanks to the results from the start of the season and the squad strengthening, the atmosphere is different to how it was then.

"Spalletti has been on the bench since July, and it's one thing starting a clear construction from day one, and another when you have to take over right in the middle."

Piloi said his interview for the Inter job had been "quite bizarre," adding: "When [sporting director Piero] Ausilio called me, I was in New York and I had just received an offer from another club whose name I will never reveal.

"I landed in Milan and he and [chief football operations officer Giovanni] Gardini came to my home in Parma.

"'As far as we are both concerned, you are the only candidate,' they told me. Two days later, I met the Chinese owners. It was the longest interview of my career: two hours in a solicitor's office, endless translations from Chinese to English to Italian.

"I only discovered from watching TV that I was in a race with Marcelino and [Gianfranco] Zola, but there was no point getting anxious about it, especially not since it wasn't clear who they were going to choose ultimately."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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