Cannavaro: "Empoli our only focus"

Cannavaro: "Empoli our only focus"

The boss speaks ahead of our final home game of the season

Fabio Cannavaro only has eyes on Sunday’s game, a crucial showdown at home against Empoli. Here’s what our boss had to say ahead of the fixture:

“Anyone involved in sport knows it’s all about winning. I’ve not let the slightest notion enter my head that my players could go out there and lose. I’m not thinking about what comes after. Our sole focus is on Empoli and doing a good job. This is the only way we can achieve our objectives. If you start thinking about other matters doubts could creep in – this affects your ability to have a clear mind. 

“On Sunday we''ll need to be smart. We’re up against a team who share the same ambitions as us and will be giving their all too. They’ve got a coach who’s used to such battles and the team is capable of punishing the opposition if they’re sloppy.

“As for Roberto Pereyra, he’s a vital player for us, as they all are. I need to try and motivate everyone – I can’t just focus on one player. I know what my players can give, an in what situations. Against Lecce I liked everyone’s attitude, not just how my forwards did. They worked as a proper team and we’ll need to stick together on Sunday, because we’re up against a team who all sing from the same hymn sheet.

Kingsley Ehizibue was tired in our last game. He needs to learn to manage his workload, to know when and when not to be involved. It’s better to go forward three times and play three crosses than go forward ten times and not play one ball in.

“My players know what's at stake. It’s like a semi-final for us. If we do well we’ll be going into a final-like game, if not then we’ll be fighting for third place. They know that if they win on Sunday their destiny will be sealed, but we’re up against a good team who are used to this kind of football. I wouldn’t like it if nerves crept in if the score lingers at 0-0 – games can be won at the death. In these kinds of games it’s the team who makes the fewest errors. Nobody is going out there to draw or lose – sport teaches us that we need to give our all in order to get a good result. 

“As for my future, I’ve not thought of what’s to come. I’ve only got one objective in my sights and I won’t think about anything else until it’s achieved. I came here with on very short notice, threw myself into my work and was lucky to have an environment where I could solely focus on the team. It was important to make the players less fearful. Winning in Lecce shouldn’t make us think that we’re safe – anything could happen.

“I’m convinced that we can improve even further. We’re learning things, both in possession and out of possession. Lorenzo Lucca's goal was a real team effort. We’re trying to manage games better so that we avoid chasing the opponent. We need to defend well so that we can make things happen up front. You’ve got to deny the opponent of space and time, forcing them into errors. 

“As for Empoli, they’ll cause us problems and we’ll need to do well to shackle them, think ahead of them and act quickly. If we go out there with no plan they could hit us on the break. We need to manage the game well.”