Inter Milan boss Claudio Ranieri has denied that Diego Forlan refused to come on as a substitute during his side’s goalless home draw with Atalanta yesterday.
Diego Milito missed a first-half penalty as Inter failed to break down their mid-table rivals to end a week when they also crashed out of the Champions League to Marseille.
It meant Inter slipped further from the European places, but afterwards the focus centred on Forlan’s apparent refusal to step off the substitutes’ bench.
While under-fire boss Ranieri confirmed he had asked the Uruguay striker to play out of position on the left wing, he denied Forlan refused to come on.
“Did Forlan refuse to come on? No,” he told Sky Italia. “I asked him whether he was ready to feature from the left, and he said that he would prefer playing in another role if he were to come on.
“It was a tactical decision. During the week Diego and I spoke about ideas in football and about how we can understand each other’s.”
The stalemate left Inter six points adrift of the Europa League places to heap further pressure on Ranieri.
The Italian again bemoaned his side’s luck, but claimed the players remained united in their quest to salvage something from the season.
“The penalty miss is another sign of the so-so year we’re having,” he told Mediaset. “I’ve been in football for more than 40 years – and we know this is not Inter’s year – but I have never come across a club, a dressing room and a group like here at Inter.
“I’m saddened, of course I am, but I’m calm and determined not to let up an inch.”
Despite Inter’s poor run, Ranieri has been backed by president Massimo Moratti, and the veteran coach claimed he remains a key part of the club’s decision making for next season.
“I am at the moment, absolutely,” he said. “We talk about plans, players, situations. Of course anything can happen in football but I can assure you that my relationship with the president is always totally honest and sincere.”