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[00:00:00]

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[00:00:28]

Daae missing this and that didn't materialize, I think both pulling themselves. Probably not on each other. Cathars. But next, they get this, the all new OTV sports are off the ball. Ireland's premier sports channel now has a new home featuring the biggest names in Irish World Sports podcast, interviews, news, commentary, analysis, plus almost 20 years of sporting archives all free and ready when you are at home or on the go. The new TV sports download it now from the App Store and Google Play.

[00:01:06]

The football show off the ball with Paddy Power as obnoxiously passionate about soccer as Frank Lampard after the final whistle can be responsibly done that. What do we do with that? What about your start to the game? I not want an honest answer would be a mistake. How can a modern day manager not have a mobile phone? Why should we?

[00:01:31]

Welcome to the football show on off the Ball. Still to come a little bit later this hour, we will be looking forward to the Europa League final that is severe against Inter. We'll be joined by our Italian football expert and the man who's written the book in English on Italian football for Italian Paddy Agnew at around about half past nine. We'll talk about interest run to the final. Can they potentially contest this good home with Juventus next season? And the revival that there's been an Italian football in Europe this year without Atlanta getting to their first ever European Cup quarterfinal?

[00:02:01]

All that to come after half past nine. But our focus now very much on the League of Ireland champions Dundalk, who have not had the happiest time since returning from the break. They've been in poorly formed. They went into the Champions League qualifiers last evening, again, hungry up against a team who'd never played in the Champions League qualifiers before and were beaten three nil by case failure. And unfortunately for Dundalk, it means they now have to prepare for the Europa League qualifiers in round two, which will come up in a couple of weeks time.

[00:02:28]

We're joined by Stuart Burns. Take a look back to was on commentary on the game last night and I would imagine just very frustrating for the Dundalk fans last night. We would have been watching on that game in Hungary because realistically, if Patrick Houben takes a chance to go one well up and they're looking good in the game and then defensive mistakes just hand away three golds.

[00:02:45]

Yeah, I mean, it's very rare. You can imagine how he must feel. What I kind of can I've kind of experience something similar before as a player, but I mean, the the the way they were beaten and most really, really hurt because, you know, anybody watching the game, it was never a one sided defeat as a result. What I suggested and I felt I played very well in the game and for the most part, both on the part of playing extremely well or playing at that level is that you have to be able to defend at a high level as well.

[00:03:20]

And it just seemed to be one of them nights where they made, I'd say, two mistakes in the game. And and the big one was really the first one, the first mistake in the first half, where 10 minutes for half time, always a key time in the game where mentally you need to be focused on the leg, start to get a little bit hard with the heat you're thinking of a half time and a possible tactical change is nil at this particular stage.

[00:03:45]

You're playing very well. You've created the best up better opportunities in the game. And if you could have had one and gotten that hit, the bar and possession was I think the stats are something like sixty five to thirty five. So you're confident in them and they look really strong. And then out of nowhere, just a lovely little, you know, slight real top up a lot with the skipper. Bukharin, who was the outside left, has read it really well, and Gartland, who's in total control of it, just can't move his feet for whatever reason.

[00:04:18]

He's just that yard slow. And then you can see he's panic and he's trying to get his body in front. He loses balance. And it's just you can see it. You kind of see it happening in slow motion. You know, something's coming there like a slight mental switch off. I think you think you've got the ball control. And the next thing I think that's I think that's the that's that's what's been happening to him at the moment.

[00:04:37]

They've just been a yard off defensively, just not reacting as quickly as you would like them to think, not anticipating as defenders, good defenders will do what they are, good defenders. It's just something something's happened and they're not anticipating mistakes. And even John Gannon, the fullback, never even was never even close to covering Gartland, although it's just a it's a calamity of errors. And then even when even when Karen gets in and gets his body and ahead of Gartland, he gets the kind of scoops the ball doesn't get much to contact on it.

[00:05:09]

And then you think, well, he's going to say this is coming out this close the angle down, he can get good, strong foot and no problem. And even he can't get can't seem to get his feet right. And it's you can look at it in two different ways. You can look at it and say it's it's just bad luck, whatever.

[00:05:26]

But I just don't believe don't believe you can be that unlucky at that level. I think there is a certain element of responsibility that players have to take on themselves, that they just haven't reacted. They haven't reacted right. Or they haven't switched on the way they would normally do have unanticipated as defenders should do that this is going to this is going it is true on gold or whatever the case may be. And unfortunately, the way the way it is at the moment and because of the league from the league hasn't been great.

[00:05:59]

That gets inside your head when you can see it, even though it's well within their capability to get back into the. The game, they've been the better side, and then when you look at the second half right from the get go, they were by far the better side. But the one thing I would say about this Sheliah team, which just for the coal commentary, had to have a look at them, had a few games they had played in previously.

[00:06:20]

It's playing against the Libyan air four weeks ago when they won the league due to all. They have a really nice temperament about them and they just they just get on with the game. They don't get involved too much, maybe a little bit of mind game stuff going down, holding the ankles, but not not an overly physical team. Don't overly moan. Just have a nice temperament about them. And they just seem to kind of go through the game without any real incident.

[00:06:48]

And that's that's kind of the way I felt last night was clinical to do. Absolutely. And even when they got the second, they were going looking for a turd, you know, which and it was just it was it was a bizarre game to to to down. It really was. I've never I was just scratching my head. I was I was I was good. This we had I mean, even when I was driving home last night, I was just sick.

[00:07:11]

And because it kind of brought back memories for me of similar type games where I knew we knew we were the better team, we just for some reason got caught cold. It tends to happen in Europe because in Europe, you get you know, you come up against real kind of quality players that can punish you for the slightest mistake. And that's exactly what Cameron did last night. He he punished on the for what was not even an awful mistake, just a slight mishap and slow reaction.

[00:07:42]

And he's in like a light. But that's the goal for me. That's the goal. I killed them really? Because I think that plays on their on their confidence. That knocks our confidence. And even though they did, they did sort of pick it up in the second half and they were able to maintain that level of possession and pass. And that they had in the first half just lacked quality, especially in some of their deliveries, lacked the clinical finish.

[00:08:06]

When you think Dorthy's had a wonderful chance when he slipped down inside the fullback and the right center, half on his left foot, he's eighty nine yards open, even though he's on the angle and he doesn't even hit the target, he just completely pulls out a lead. He had a similar chance as well where he couldn't get the ball out of his feet from seven, eight yards out. And then of course, Houben's header, who I think he's expecting to get a Claitor off the goalkeeper and he kind of just gets something on it and it hits the barrier.

[00:08:32]

And you're starting to say, James is one of these nights like, you know, and that probably gets inside the heads of the players and they unfastening you don't get time to feel sorry for yourself in this game, especially at this stage of the season where we've only just gotten going. I mean, so much football for them to play for. It is there's there's all the league stuff that they're still in the hunt for. I know they're they're a bit off Macrovision balls at the moment, but they're still, well, capable of pulling themselves back into that tight race.

[00:09:00]

And they're still in Europe as well. There's still an opportunity for them to lick their wounds a little bit, sought out a couple of things because things aren't right. And regardless of what you say internally, something is not right and they're going to have to rectify quick. It is difficult to find that form, though, given that their post lockdown form has not been good. They had to fight back against Watford last week before playing against this game.

[00:09:22]

Difficult fixture coming into the trip to Hungary. Now they've got like a week or two to just settle themselves before they're back out for the second round of qualifiers for the Europa League. It's a big ask to turn your form around ahead of that. Yeah, that's the worry. This is this is this is the problem now. All of there completely. It's how do you get that negativity out of your head now? These guys are now starting to doubt themselves as players.

[00:09:45]

Are we as good as we think we are? Did we really achieve all those things? And in Europe in years gone by, have we really where we really tackled when we want our league titles? I've been there as a player and the only way to get out of is just the players. And sometimes sometimes you need to go into a game and you just need the manager to turn on, say no tactics and no no real system. I'm not going to give you any real information on the opposition.

[00:10:13]

Just go out play. Just go out and show me you want to fight for didjeridu and you want to you're hungry to win things and get yourself out of this, out of this. And they can only do it together. And and the fact that the mistakes are being made by different players, I would tell you that it's not really one individual or whatever. It's a collective thing. It's a group thing and a group mindset.

[00:10:36]

And that's the only way they're going to get themselves out of Noles from Dublin and contract on the text five, three, one, two, six lads. The problem with the dog is their forwards and their defence, their blunt up front with no composure. If the dog take any of those early chances, it's a very different game and they could have cut the opposition apart in the break. The midfield were well on top of the defenders when they had to defend couldn't.

[00:10:56]

Is it as simple as that? This is Mortons. No good points. I mean, they're good points, right? I think. You mentions the fact that the midfielder's played very well, very good ball retention, good possession. There was times, especially in the Middle Forestar, probably 15 minutes or 20 minutes of a really cold like, you know, possession really good. They were running rings around Sheliah, and I think she started to drop off a little bit and give them a little bit of respect.

[00:11:24]

But I do agree that once they got into that final toward the there was a lack of the option. Do you like to think they would have maybe Houben was a little bit isolated at times. The quality of deliveries and the way Sessions wasn't as good as you would expect it to be. And there was one occasion where Tofiq doing really well down the left hand side, and he had McIlhaney and Houben, both Borse and into the box, and it needed that area to delivery would have left foot.

[00:11:51]

And he hesitated and they've gone beyond the ball and he's handed the ball in behind them and it was that kind of stuff. So it's decision making at the wrong times. Didn't go well for them. I think when Ganon Dodo's put a really good delivery, that box is able to get a header on it. And you think you can do better than that. But they didn't have that cutting edge. I would agree. And sometimes you don't always need that.

[00:12:13]

Couldn't as you might just need a little bit look to go for you. But ultimately, when when you when you look at the chances that they did create in the game, there's they were definitely more to go. And I think what happened was because they didn't get that early goal and because they can see the way they can see it just planted a seed of doubt in their own minds and that that commitment just wasn't there. And you look at Dollface Chance in the second half that I spoke about, just not fully committed to it.

[00:12:41]

And then Lee's chance, but again, not fully committed to it, just hesitating snap and things like that just tells you that that's not that's not 100 percent. It might be 90 percent, but at that level, it has to be 100 percent when it comes to this confidence in terms of what they're trying to achieve. The bar was kind of raised four seasons ago when they get to the Europa League group stages and the belief will be that that was there to be built on.

[00:13:04]

I'm sure when their investors came in, that was the hope that this is going to be a team who are consistently in European competition, because if you invest in a club, that's how you make money with a league of our own and clubs that run in Europe.

[00:13:15]

That's that's exactly it. And I think I think people have to remember that as well. And I have to commend the DA for what it is they're trying to achieve and they're not trying to, you know, buy their way to winning league titles. You know, they are genuinely trying to make a step forward in European football. You have to be extremely brave to do that. And you have to take risks. You have to invest. You know, you have to try and get in the best players you can possibly get in.

[00:13:42]

And that's what they're trying to do. And I'd hate to think that there's people out there and wait one thing to see them fail because, you know, aren't they lucky because they've got investors and they're throwing money out of it? That's not that's not what's happening here. And it is a calculated effort here to invest in the game and bring the game here. We have a lot of time, year in, year out, and to try and make that step forward in Europe because it only takes one team to make that breakthrough.

[00:14:11]

And as you see, the wait on Doc did a few years ago, the financial gain that they had from that year and was huge. But unfortunately, the falls are big. If you don't if it doesn't happen for you and it's a long way down, it is a long way down. But I still think we need to have clubs like that in this league because we don't have too many of them. We have at the moment we've got Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers and who are trying to do it.

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And Rovers, of course, are playing European football and they will try to make that step forward. I don't I but we don't have very many orders because we don't have investment in the game here. The game is financially in trouble. It needs investment. And a lot of people will argue, well, how should that investment come into the game? Different clubs have different ideas about what that should be. And but for me, I come from the mold that we need, the likes of Dundalk, pushing the boundaries, pushing the standards on the pitch, which they have done.

[00:15:18]

And I think it's worth remembering that for me anyway, the quality of player on the pitch, the physical condition and the technical ability has gone from there. It's gone right up there. And I think Dundalk and the standards they have set and what they have proven have been the one thing that have driven those players on to kind of push themselves to a better standard. What goes on off the pitch, I don't really care too much about, to be quite honest with you, because I'm very much and on the pitch.

[00:15:50]

And I think what you can achieve on the pitch is huge. It's there. It's it's especially this year, which is this is why yesterday was frustrating. It's a one off game. If they win that game, they're into a completely different level. You know, they're. Where they've got another Champions League game are far back to the Europa League, and I think I think you're looking at possibly one point two million, they would have come from gone through.

[00:16:14]

But unfortunately, that hasn't happened. But there's a back door option. They still have another go in Europe. And but they do have to get things in the camp or otherwise. Otherwise, I'm gonna be in trouble again when it comes to the investments to eat. And Alcorn's particularly busy back in February when signings were being made for the new season. You can probably argue, particularly with some of their contracts up at the end of the current campaign, that maybe it was the time to freshen up a little bit.

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They didn't go huge into the transfer market. Was that a mistake on reflection?

[00:16:41]

And I thought in the off season and I felt even listen to Vinnie at the end of last season that I was expecting to see a big change in personnel at the club. I thought he was making a few sound bites, that it was definitely on a fresh I don't know I don't know of any information into into the goings on on dogs when it comes to the transfer market. But I just felt that he definitely wanted to get in possibly four or five players of a certain calibre, particularly European caliber, and and unfortunately probably wasn't able to do it now.

[00:17:20]

And saying that timing is probably gone against them as well, because he's brought in door, he's brought in Karlovic colorants came in in February and by all means was was was was was firing at the time. And he was I think it would have been the perfect opportunity for him to kind of get a couple of months under his belt with Dundalk and then go into Europe. And I think he will benefit from that. Obviously, covid hit in and everything was was was was ground to a halt.

[00:17:49]

And that looks like that's had an effect on the on the on the squad for whatever reason. And can you really put blame? I don't know. I mean, we're seeing all sorts of odd results around. You only have to look at Bahrain and Barcelona. And it's just bizarre because realistically, when we went to summer football, the whole idea was that the League of Ireland clubs will be quite a bit into their season and almost at full tilt when they went into Europe.

[00:18:13]

That's not happened this year because they had months of lay off a handful of games. And then you're directly thrown into these European qualifiers. That advantage that there may have been some severe football before has in this very strange year, had been taken away from them so much.

[00:18:25]

Yeah, I mean, I, I didn't bring much into that myself, I have to say. I mean, I mean, some football came in when I was a player and I think it definitely benefited the players here at the time because and I think it was 2002, certainly when we were playing in Europe at the time, we were probably tactically, technically not as good at the time, just a little bit below what we were playing against. But we were we were fitter.

[00:18:53]

We were as fit. And that brings a certain gap. But I think as the subsequent years went down three or four and thinking of ourselves and our FA, I think we definitely became tactically and tactically much more aware. I think we became much more experienced in how to play and do not just come from experience because you have your big time. You know, it absolutely it comes from experience. And, you know, I, of course, from getting turned over by bit by better teams as well.

[00:19:17]

You learn from being beaten by the better teams, and that's the only way to learn. That's the best. The way we all learn, we learn from making mistakes are we learn from from from from them, from losing particular games. And that's how that's how I felt. I developed as a player in Europe. So I don't I didn't put as much emphasis on the fitness thing. I put more emphasis on. And my tactical awareness and technical awareness, just my own mentality.

[00:19:46]

And because there was a fear factor there before you go into these games, you can look at these guys are six foot two and they've got great hands and they all look great. I don't want to joke about it, but there was there was an inferiority complex going into those games. We banished and banished that pretty much by picking up good results by beat by these teams, by then getting to a stage where we were going into these games as probably the the the favourites.

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And and that's how it happens. And even look at the dark. They went last night's game as the favourites. They had the greater European pedigree and they had the more experienced players and they weren't able to capitalise on that. And ultimately, they've gotten done by and by their own mistakes. And I don't I don't give credit to Shell for being taken advantage of those mistakes. But ultimately, the goal was that they gave away where mistakes the simplest of self-inflicted blows.

[00:20:52]

Let's hear from Vinnie part then. This is what the dog boss had to say after last night's defeat in Hungary.

[00:20:57]

Really, really hard to take them into scoreline. This is awful, awful reflection. Well, that's not true reflection with a. Does it matter the players I thought were outstanding tonight really, really brilliant fair play to them and ultimately that was the result is whether or not the players were put in a very difficult position with them tonight. But they were brilliant and full credit goes to them. We're operating at the highest level in the 14, just coming close to it.

[00:21:26]

That's just the way it goes. I mean, we've conceded some goals in Europe that you get punished at the highest level. And they were able to say, I'm not going to criticize people, just a men's man. They're what you've done for this town over the last eight years. I'm very proud of them. Very proud of me, association with them. And, you know, they'll be disappointed. You got to take it on the chin.

[00:21:49]

I don't recall the championship game we've ever played. And we get to the second half as much as we on it. Yeah, I would say to my feeling that the team I feel we understood exactly who we're playing against, the feel of the dustups. I wouldn't change anything. So therefore, you know, I've got to look in the mirror because there's not a lot I would change in that. I would have changed the last couple of weeks, obviously developed to a lot.

[00:22:14]

You change. And I think in part because we've got them in the game, probably. Look, if I'm not willing to change anything about that, then, you know, I've got a look in the mirror, very reflective of any person who has to look in the mirror.

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Why after what happened, I mean, given the way things have gone, the fact they've fallen double digits behind Chemeq rovers in the tight race, given that they've lost this game, there's a lot of pressure on Veny path at this stage with the way they've restarted the season. There is.

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Yeah, he knows that. And I mean, when we took over the job, it's not like he because it's back in 2012 again, where they came from. It's he took over a very, very professional football club, especially on the pitch he took over and a club that had earned the right to be the best team in this country and the right to be considered a team with good European calibre. You know, this all this is not news for him.

[00:23:13]

So he knew what he was taking over because he was part of the course as well. So he knows his pressure. And and we've got investments as well coming into the football club. The way it's coming in, there's pressure and pressure is a good thing. I always felt you need you need to be under pressure. Otherwise things can go a little bit static, a little bit stale. And I think sometimes players need to embrace pressure or otherwise and they'll find it very, very difficult to go from one level to another.

[00:23:39]

And but I think what he's trying to do is take the pressure off his players ultimately because he knows there's someone for positivity played the really is.

[00:23:51]

And and I think he's he's trying to be protective of the players. And, you know, he's alluding to the fact that the players have done such wonderful things for the town, which they have. And and again, it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier. I think to have set a standard in this league that the rest are still trying to get to and they haven't gotten there yet and they're still trying to get there to. And for that, they need to be we need to remember that as well, unfortunately.

[00:24:19]

And part of me kind of knows where he's coming from as well, because I've kind of had that myself in the playing career. And then even in my in my sort of current position in media is that you always feel like you're trying to convince people and even convince people within the league that we're good enough and that we can we deserve to be where we are and that we can reach these certain height in Europe. But it just seems to be a constant you know, you just you're swimming against the tide all the time.

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And I the result last night, that's the force that came into my head. I remember just put my head in my hands. And now this is just playing into the playing into the hands of the naysayers and the doubters who just want to see and who are not going to say they don't want to see this happen because they're dying to have a go at the likes of John Dark and rollovers because of the investment model that they have. They can now and maybe that's natural.

[00:25:19]

Maybe that's envy. And but I still go back to what my feelings are on this. I think we need to have that otherwise. I can see how the game in this country is going to progress and and it's it's you only have to look at what the doc achieved back in 2006 and it wasn't huge investment that got them there. And it was those players, you know, it was those players in the football club. And and maybe everyone just needs to remember that again.

[00:25:51]

Maybe they need to remember that maybe they've forgotten now. Maybe they've forgotten that. And it's not that difficult sometimes, you know, so I hope they get back on the horse again. I have to say, and I haven't given up on them, I'll never give up on unkillable trying to trying to kind of step up to that next level and offer Shamrock Rovers off that level. Now, because of that fire, put themselves into a wonderful position in the league.

[00:26:16]

We'll see how tight bowls are going to stay. The two rivals between now and the end of the season, both rovers are well placed to win the league. I'm sure it's in the back of their mind that they'll feel they'll have to leave behind them last season, given the position they got into. They've had that investment from Dermot Desmond. They've got really good players at the club currently. They can't be too far away from getting to that level now.

[00:26:34]

Not that far away yet. But the key for them is doing it year in, year out. And that's the reason why they didn't win the league last year, because they basically fell off a cliff in May. Which and what you need to do in order to win league titles, in order to be playing at the highest level and to be making these breakthroughs in Europe, you have to be consistently week in, week out. It's very, very difficult to do that, you know, to do that for a whole season, to do it year in, year out, for five, six years in a row, whatever, very, very difficult to do.

[00:27:07]

And it takes huge dedication, but it's common for them. It is going for them. It's up to them whether or not they want to they want to do it. And the only way they can do that is by making progression in Europe, which they've got a game coming up now next week, which I feel that I would be very confident in them going through, because I think even their European and the way they've acquitted them said in Europe, you can see year on year they were just getting better and better every year and had a great result last year.

[00:27:38]

And I felt that they certainly stepped up a new level. Then winning the cup for them gives them confidence. I think Goldmann competitions and then that's starting to now rub off on the league for them. And they are now the most consistent team in the country at the moment. But they have to prove it. You have to go when things are. You have to go and make that progression. That's the only way. That's the only way you're going to do and that's the only way you progress.

[00:28:04]

Rovers also balls and Derri in action in the first round of the Europa League qualifiers next week don't have to waste to play in the second round of the competition. The draw will be made for that in a little bit. Also, another year tax being funded and all great to see them advance, but in many ways they've become a victim of their own success. In the last decade, every time they build a winning team, they've lost some of their best players and they also lost their manager, Stephen Kenny, to the international set up.

[00:28:28]

We'll take a short break. We'll be talking to Paddy Agnew about Italian football when we come back.

[00:28:32]

Football off the ball with Paddy Power and more electric team up than Salah and Marnay. Responsibly done at. You're very welcome back to the football show here on Off the Ball tomorrow evening, severe, the record five time winners of the Europa League slushy wafer cup go up against a team who dominated the competition in the nineteen nineties inter, who won the competition on three occasions and reached the final four times in that decade. They're back in the final, the first Italian side to reach the Europa League decider since a change to that competition back in twenty twelve, delighted to say.

[00:29:07]

And we're joined on the line by Italian football writer and author of the book Forza Italia, Paddy Agnew. Paddy, good evening to you.

[00:29:14]

Good evening, Paddy.

[00:29:15]

These are our listeners, this entire team, paddy therapy, transformative compared to the entire of the last few seasons, finished second in Serbia, albeit Juventus won the title and kind of eased up in the last few weeks of the season. But their free scoring, the best scoring entry team since the nineteen fifties, and they go into this final in tremendous form from the knockout stages. They know he is this is a turnaround. If you look at his recent performance area in the last few years, just look at checking it out before we came on fourth this time last year, fourth the year before, seventh the year before that eighth the year before that.

[00:29:55]

So dramatically better performance this year to finish just one point behind Juventus, even if you win this, as you correctly said, eased up a bit at the end of the year.

[00:30:07]

This is a terribly significant game for Italian football for many reasons. But above all, I mean, I was thinking as I was waiting to talk to you guys, you know, I've been here since the mid 80s. I was there for. So all those other companies you were talking about in the 90s when the inter and those were the days. Those are the days when the best referee in world football was probably paired with equally and cleanly used to complain they could never get to referee a European final of any sort of shape because it was always an Italian team in it, you know?

[00:30:43]

Well, times have changed because for the last decade since Inter no less under Jose Mourinho collected the treble won the Champions League in 2010, there hasn't been an Italian side in any final. So this is really important moment if for for that reason. It's also a really important moment for Italian football in the shape this is. In recent years, a number of the Italian clubs have been bowled over by outside money, which is for a very nationalistic set up like Italy has been has created shockwaves.

[00:31:21]

So you've had the Elliott Foundation now owns AC Milan, the Americans, the Americans and the shaved down for the new owner of Astronema and Inter, owned by the Sonnen Corporation. This is going to be a very important division since 2016. Sixteen. This is an important moment for them because it'll be the first to win the first trophy they win, but it'll be the know. It'll it'll basically put an end to the speculation that you can only win Italian football if you're Italian.

[00:32:00]

You can only be a successful Italian team of Italian owned that will go down the drain as a concept if they manage to win.

[00:32:07]

And this team doesn't necessarily play with a very strictly Italian style either. I mean, Antonio Conti appears to have learned from his period in international management, even his time at Chelsea. And we look at the recruitment, he went to sign players that he knew from the Premier League that have come in and to have an impact this season, probably none more so than Romelu Lukaku, who's been absolutely remarkable up front for them.

[00:32:29]

Yeah, you're absolutely right. Well, I also add on to that of premiership players who a very influential one of the best buys at the January transfer window was actually on performance last night. He's had a terrific game as a left, right, left side midfielder. But just Lukaku has been he was one of the player. He was one player that Contee insisted on and he argued long and hard to have Lukaku and Lukaku delivered. He's scored twenty three goals in Syria.

[00:33:05]

But is it what is the important thing about him is that he scores goals in the important matches and the big matches, and he's look very, very sharp. And he'll be leading the attack tomorrow night with Tara. Martin is the Argentine and there are very powerful. They are very powerful, very up front as far does he play a different type of game, a long Italian game? I'm not so sure I wouldn't buy that and try to play with and I'll be playing tomorrow night.

[00:33:35]

I'm almost start with his three five two formation, which is very much what he had with Italy in the twenty sixteen European Championships. And it's it's a it's a it's a classic enough Italian system in the sense that you you've you've got a very solid defense, carefully protected by a solid across the field midfield. And you are quite happy that all the sides commentary for a while. What is different about Contee and what he has learned clearly is he's quite willing to play the game quite high off the pitch, which Italian teams have traditionally not wanted to do.

[00:34:17]

And he has absolutely insisted. I mean, the one thing about Conte is anybody anybody knows about Conti's. He is relentless, hard worker. He insists he is. The first thing you have to say you took over into this time last year was blood, sweat and tears, lads. That's where he comes from, and he showed that with the Italian team in twenty sixteen, it wasn't by any means the most talented Italian team many of us have ever seen.

[00:34:46]

But they came within a penalty kick again in the semifinals. So you can get a team to play. And he's got this lot to play.

[00:34:54]

And he's been he's been helped by one thing and which is he seems to have got his physical preparation for this.

[00:35:04]

Right. Because whereas a lot of the teams that didn't have a break are not the French team, not the German things with the others. Juventus, for example, look look a bit tired and jaded at the end of the post covid season, his inter, who played more games than anybody, are looking very, very sharp.

[00:35:27]

And they seem to have settled into the exact information he wants. And I would think that he's just been saying, you know, football's a bit like history. It's the winners who write it. So go out there and win this game tomorrow night and you'll be writing history for yourselves. He is. I think he'll be very much up for it. I would give them a great chance. Yeah, they're pressing was relentless.

[00:35:53]

So what's their second game against par Leverkusen? And they really, really put pressure on the German side. And again, similarly, witchdoctor, they were able to play a bit of football the other night, put inter, were able to pressure them in the right positions and look really good on the counterattack. I was reading to party that your country leads from the front on this one, that when he goes to training sessions, it's not unheard of that he'll jump in on the five side and he'll show players how he feels that they should be pressing, too.

[00:36:17]

So despite the fact the years of advance debate, that guy who was a star midfielder for Aventis is still there, it seems.

[00:36:24]

Oh, he's effectively I mean, I know Contee quite well. Is it fantastically? Is it is in the classic line of obsessive coaches. And me, for example, he calls on the last night of the season, the Syria season this year, when it was clear that entero done well. By all intents and purposes, the finish is just one point behind Juventus. They won the last March and he made an extraordinary gave an interview to Sky Italia, live TV minutes after the final whistle, saying, and there were all sorts of people jumping on the bandwagon here, have done nothing all year long except get my way.

[00:37:01]

And this club hasn't protected me properly and hasn't protected my players. And what do they do? And things are going to change around here, you know, the sort of thing which dirty linen being washed in public thing which the football world hate on Italian football hate even more. But countries like that, you just shoot from the hip sometimes and he does things like that, perhaps a little bit like Mario in the sense that you take the pressure off the player sometimes by becoming the focus of media attention themselves.

[00:37:33]

But he certainly is not frightened to say his mind. And Colman's players tend to match up to his expectations, which are very serious.

[00:37:45]

Is there a little bit of a political side to this, too? Because this intra team have got their best points total since Mourinho won the travel back in 2010. So they've delivered on the pitch in terms of results. They could potentially win themselves a European trophy tomorrow night. If that's to happen, is content maybe putting pressure back onto the board here? I'm guessing that he'll probably want to spend a bit of money between now and October nine. You go?

[00:38:08]

Absolutely. Well, that is what he's doing. He doesn't he had to battle to get people like Lukaku last year, and he's proved that was an inspired choice.

[00:38:19]

And now if things happen, as you've just said, if he wins the trophy tomorrow night, then he'll be looking for basically almost a free hand, an English manager style, a role when it comes to transfer market. And basically, I'll decide everything new lads, you can drive the bus, but otherwise, let me get on with it. I think that's what he was saying. All right.

[00:38:46]

There was a lot of speculation that he wants to he is he wants to get away from IntoNow and that he was doing it because Juventus might be looking for a new coach, etc. But we just weren't looking for him as the new coach. As we know, they've appointed Peter in the meantime. And he was just doing it to flex its muscles, to make it very clear that he wants to do, as you've just suggested, the control, the transfer control, everything else about the way the team is run.

[00:39:17]

What kind of company is Antonio Conter like when you meet him then?

[00:39:19]

Very lovely. I mean, I met him was to put it before the European Championships. I remember making one up on the plane up to Turin. And he was just about to go to Chelsea because remember, after the European Championships, he went directly Chelsea, and I said to him, I said to go in the AMA and he said, I am I am going well. And I said, oh, yeah, try to learn your English, are you?

[00:39:54]

And he started laughing. But I mean, no, he he's if you say to them things like I said to him, I remember saying to before the European countries, do you think you've been very yes. It looks like a very ordinary squad by Italian standards and squad. You've got surely you could have done some more. There were some more talent to find somewhere in there, Italian football.

[00:40:17]

I said, well, you tell me when I looked up and down, but this is the better.

[00:40:24]

One of those players have been really good from this season. Lateran Martinez. It would seem that he's probably going to stay because in Barcelona, these financial issues that have come around were call with the Barcelona president said yesterday they haven't spoken to interest since June. He's been really good. Again, over 20 goals. He's added a huge amount to the team this season and it looks like they're going to keep around for another year at least. Yeah, not out the successful end to the serious already suggest that not very much is going to change in terms of personnel.

[00:40:54]

So you're going to have guys like Leukocoria, Martinez up front, Gardini, Barella, Broza, which in midfield in disarray. Ashley Young Gordin screen out in defense, Hundun and goal. I think all of those players stay under are very, very strong squad. And there are strong there are definitely a squad good enough to win this area and be good enough to do well in the Champions League. And they should have done much better in the Champions League this season.

[00:41:25]

And this is a rich in the qualifying runs. The Champions League were ahead away to both Dortmund and Barcelona and two of the early qualifying matches. And this side just didn't have the experience to hold on to the situation. But they you know, they they have improved as the season has gone on, added a lot to their a lot to the baggage of the experience.

[00:41:50]

I think they're going to be whatever happens tomorrow night, they're going to be a very serious side next season.

[00:41:55]

You mentioned potentially them going for the skedaddling next season. Was there much surprise there in Italy when Mauricio sorry was dispatched so quickly? You know, the expectations are due. They had to be high, but they left the capital behind them. They got knocked out and embarrassingly so against early on in the round of 16 in the Champions League at that point was sorry, we've no chance he was going to stay, wants to go to Europe.

[00:42:18]

No chance. I would say it was fairly obvious it was. And he saw the U.S. as waste no time.

[00:42:24]

He was sacked the next morning, wasn't it a sorry had two terrific seasons with Napoli in the season when he green scored thirty six goals and was a record and they played some wonderful football and the others belief was taking him after he left Chelsea and point him that you would come up with that type of champagne football, as I like to call it, the area, you know, very fast. One touch football, which obviously you'd like to think as a great deal in Barcelona as its inspiration brought his event.

[00:43:01]

It's never, never came near or that one of the reasons probably is that his Juventus has to be built to a certain extent around Ronaldo. And Ronaldo is not the sort of player who fits into that mold. So much of that you have to keep looking after another and figuring out the impossible to another look.

[00:43:17]

And he wasn't he was he also was having to work with a squad which he hadn't put together himself and he didn't deliver.

[00:43:30]

As the event is, both Juventus fans and the Juventus directors had hoped and it was just a matter of time that you are in this strange situation where winning the league title for the ninth time this year, frankly, didn't matter a damn. This is ridiculous. What matters to them and we all know was doing well in the Champions League and going out to Lille was not doing well in the Champions League. So they were they were willing to forgive some lesson impressed Brahms's in Syria.

[00:44:11]

And it didn't really matter because it was a bad area that nobody else played really continuously well in Syria. And therefore they want for the meal. When they got into the Champions League, there were one or two. So they can still play a bit. And you directors at that and said, OK, bye bye.

[00:44:34]

Andre comes in. This is quite the baptism for him. Party goes from retiring from football. He thinks I'm going to start my coaching career with the other twenty threes. I'll ease my way into this a few weeks later. He's in the top job.

[00:44:46]

Yeah, that's right. That's absolutely right. I'm starting on twenty three as we look to you and me and everybody else, like a very sensible way to do it.

[00:44:54]

And I'm not sure what he himself really feels about having been plunged in. But, you know, a task, as the people that I've met and talked to occasionally over the years has always struck me as a very serious, very smart football or a very taciturn guy and very. Reserves are by no means flamboyant, by no means outspoken, and you wonder how a guy like that will do as a coach. What is true, though, is that he was a wonderful player.

[00:45:35]

He's hugely respected by his by the players. And, you know, sometimes wonderful players can seem to move in the position of wonderful coaches overnight. Guardiola, the Barcelona on the floor, Juventus fan. You just have to hope that Peter was able to do that. We'll wait and see.

[00:45:56]

He's going to have to he's going to want he's got a problem. One one big problem.

[00:45:59]

You've got to deal with it under your own situation now where he's going to have to decide between Ronaldo and Deborah, the Argentine. He did what I was easily eventless, best player of the year. He was probably the best player in Syria last season. He's probably played you. If you had to name one player who was vital to them holding onto their title, you would say it was Dibala. Ronaldo will be thirty six next spring. Are you going to continue flashing the side around him or would not be wiser to fashion, say, to run the young Turk, the Argentine in that case?

[00:46:36]

Are you going to do the the unthinkable, the commit heresy and get rid of Renaldo and waste yourself on? That would certainly be an indication of what way he's going to go as a coach. Is the next important decision like that only the amazing. That's a huge decision we have to make, because I got the feeling when they signed acquisitional, probably they were signing at a time where they knew he was getting into his thirties by the end of that four year contract that they handed him.

[00:47:00]

It's probably when his powers are going to start waning from a physical sense that he's not changed at all. But you have to accommodate his football to a certain extent. And I always got the feeling with Chiellini coming towards the end, we found coming towards the end. We're now looking coming towards the end. The event is we're taking a gamble that they could win the Champions League in that period while Cristiano was in Turin.

[00:47:19]

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, you point, but it's not just Ronaldo, Chilena and perhaps even Bonaduce. Are the important players coming to the end of our time. But the most important is we're not like I. I would say this about that you can't point to any any game in which he hasn't given this all for Juventus and he is done what event has asked him to do. He delivers gold in really important matches and particularly important Champions League games.

[00:47:50]

But I am thirty six next. Bringing the doubt is always there. Can he keep going? Not. I mean, they played on to lose forty one, but as a left back, Dena's played on goal is going to be forty one. Gigi Buffon simply you know, I mean at forty one that can be done but up front I mean kind of keep on coming. He's absolutely bionic the way he's playing. He's managed to maintain this level.

[00:48:21]

But even here you think well will cracks will appear.

[00:48:26]

I wonder at this point with little Messi potentially leaving camp now between now and October where the event is, might be tempted to try and put a bit in there because it was audacious to take Ronaldo away from Real Madrid when they did. Yes, absolutely, I don't. Well, the speculation here is it's not events, but into who might be trying to get their hands on messy messes, going to abandon Barcelona any moment now, what the Italians might like to enter.

[00:48:56]

And that would certainly, if I say that, really equipped to do well other than Messi to that they're obviously the favorites straightaway away.

[00:49:06]

I think from a very selfish point of view, I'd love to see Messi and Ronaldo together at some point. Just before we go, I want to ask you about Atlanta, because I think they won a lot of people's hearts and minds in the way they played in the Champions League this season, particularly what they did to Valencia over the couple of legs to qualify for the quarterfinals for the first time. Very unlucky against Paris a couple of weeks ago in the quarterfinals.

[00:49:24]

Two. They're a very, very interesting side to watch.

[00:49:29]

Well, I think Giampaolo Gasparini, the Atlanta coach, is simply the best coach Italy's got to go generation coaches.

[00:49:37]

There are a heap of fantastic coaches, Conti's and munchy runnier. But the best of them at the moment, my mind is Gasparini. What is done with that? So has been absolutely fantastic because he's much more than someone like Conti has brought a different mentality to Italian football. His side plays. It looks sharper, it looks better.

[00:50:03]

Plays a more intense game player Fabio Capello says one of the few teams in Italy that plays a premiership rhythm and intensity and the short sometimes on the pitch, I.

[00:50:19]

I felt my heart bled for them the other night against partisanship because.

[00:50:27]

Perhaps the single most important player they've had over the last three or four years with tremendous success is the Argentine Gomez Papu Gomez. He's really wonderful one for a player, but he was injured in that in that quarterfinal and he did not deliver. Then the other absolutely inspirational player for Atlanta has been Ilija, the slowing. He got into a huge depression during the covid lockdown and couldn't get his head together, couldn't get its act together. And it wasn't he wasn't even on the pitch against partisanism.

[00:51:03]

But my feeling was that Atlanta would have won that game against Pakistan, had not been injured, not had to be taken off, and the or might well have won had it been there as well. I mean, it does not say that it has got a huge, huge squad and those are missing those two players. Again, that was just too much.

[00:51:27]

Yeah, it's going to be very interesting. As you say, it's all teed up for a very interesting Soriana season. Enjoy the Arab League. Fine. We'll see if we can move on to four by winning their first Europa League tomorrow night. Thanks a million for joining us from Italy.

[00:51:39]

Thanks very much. And just before we go, reports in the last few minutes claim that Veny Perth has tonight left his role as the dogs head coach. Those reports are yet to be confirmed by the club. But for more, you can check out all sports dotcom. I'll be back with you tomorrow evening from seven p.m. We'll preview Katie Taylor's rematch against Delphin Prasoon. Stay tuned for Tom Dunn after the news at 10:00. Good luck.

[00:52:02]

Football on off the ball with Paddy Power more confident and united before a Europa League final gamble, responsibly done that, missing this and that didn't materialize, I think both poorly and probably not with each other and Cathars.

[00:52:18]

What next? And get this, the all new OTV sports up off the ball, Ireland's premier sports channel now has a new home featuring the biggest names in Irish and world sports podcast interviews, news, commentary, analysis, plus almost 20 years of sporting archives all free and ready when you are at home or on the go. The new TV sports download it now from the App Store and Google Play.