Roberto Mancini: "I decided to leave Zenit three months ago"
The final press conference of Roberto Mancini as blue-white-sky blue manager.
How would you rate yourself overall this season? Did you expect that it will be so difficult in the Russian championship?
I always try to look at everything completely and achieve the best I can. I try to win every match, to make the players play hard at every training session. Considering the circumstance, I would say that any defeat and any season, which ends not in the favour of my club, is a disappointment. Again, I want to emphasise that in many respects I connect our failures this season to the injuries of our best players, Kokorin, Mammana and Kuzyaev. This happened at a critical moment for us. This started the decline in our game, a series of draws and defeats. Up until the match with CSKA we had a chances of winning the league, I would say that if it were not for these injuries, our chances for the championship would be much higher.
Are there any decisions that were made wrongly during the season?
No. I don't feel that I made some mistakes or wrong decisions. If I could turn back time, I would do the same. Some technical decisions were made and I do not doubt them in any way.
I want to stress that the decision to leave Zenit is exclusively mine. This is largely due to my family circumstances. The decision to leave was taken about three months ago. This has nothing to do with the club or any national team.
Who would you recommend to be your replacement at Zenit?
I am sure that the next coach of Zenit will be a very good and talented manager, like all the club's previous coaches. Zenit are a very strong team. Provided that Kokorin, Mammana and Kuzyaev are healthy, this team is at least a semi-final of the Europa League team and the main contender for the title.
The decision to announce your departure before the match was your initiative or the clubs?
This was the decision of the president.
What was your best match at Zenit and what was the worst one?
In the Russian championship we played 30 matches, of which we lost only five. Of these five, we deserved to win in four matches for sure. Perhaps we deserved a draw in the match against Spartak.
So you knew about your departure three months ago were the players aware?
I would like to emphasise once again that this was exclusively my initiative. I've been thinking about it for a long time. The decision was made largely for family reasons. This decision was not easy. The players did not know about this three months ago. Perhaps they began to think about it over the last ten days, when the media started to talk about my departure. But they heard from me about my leaving the club this morning.
What do you think about the candidates for the Zenit job, Maurizio Sarri Siniša Mihajlović?
I do not know how to answer. I have no relation to any of those candidates for the Zenit job. I will not give any advice and I have not communicated with anyone.
Can you confirm that you will be the Italian national team manager?
At the moment there are absolutely no agreements with the Italian team. It would be wrong to negotiate until my contract here is over, as we announced today. It would be against the rules. I cannot confirm that I will take the post of head coach of the Italian team. In many interviews I have said that it would be of interest to me. Now that all the contractual issues have been settled, I can enter into negotiations with the Italian team.
Can you highlight the positive things about being Zenit manager? What is the future of the Argentinians at Zenit?
We are a team that performed well in the Europa League, we scored a huge number of goals in the group stage and went far compared to previous seasons. We went out because of a combination of unfavorable circumstances. The injuries to Mammana and Kokorin. We has the best defence in the Premier League and the best goal difference. At least two or three players from the five Argentines are on Sampaoli radar and have every chance to go to the World Cup. Two or three of them were of interest from the best clubs in the Europe. As for Zabolotny, I am very pleased with the way he uses his skills and practices. He is a very serious guy who is moving in the right direction. Today he scored and I hope that next season will be more successful and productive for him. I wish him good luck.
I wish to thank the journalists here for all their work. It's sad that I won't see you at any more press conferences.