Frank de Boer believes the ongoing feud between captain Mauro Icardi and the Inter ultras is having a negative impact on the club.
Inter host Southampton in Europa League Group K on Thursday looking to end a run of three consecutive defeats in all competitions, the last of which – Sunday’s 2-1 home loss to Cagliari – was played out amid a poisonous atmosphere at San Siro.
Argentinian striker Icardi infuriated Inter’s Curva Nord ultras after claiming he made himself a “hero” among his team-mates by standing up to one of the group’s leaders after a 3-1 defeat to Sassuolo in 2014-15.
Curva Nord declared Icardi to be “finished” as an Inter player and the 23-year-old was confronted by banners criticising him during the Cagliari match, where his missed penalty was cheered by sections of the home support.
Icardi was sanctioned by the club on Monday but retained the captaincy and, with his agent and wife Wanda Nara saying the player will not be forced into a move, De Boer is keen to draw a line under the saga.
“The situation between Icardi and the Curva definitely had an effect,” he told a pre-match news conference. “It is not good for the team, the fans or the club.
“Everyone needs to make sure similar situations can be avoided in the future, not just Icardi. The staff and all the players need to stay focused on the match in hand. That is very important
“Mauro needs to take on board what happened and remember his responsibilities as captain. I think he understands that. He needs to set a good example for his team-mates.”
Inter can afford little more margin for error in Group K, having lost to Hapoel Be’er Sheva and Sparta Prague in their opening two games.
De Boer could hand midfielder Marcelo Brozovic his first club outing since the former loss after the Croatia midfielder started his country’s wins over Kosovo and Finland during the recent international break.
“Brozovic is training well and he played two games for the Croatian national team so, in my eyes, he’s ready to play,” the former Ajax boss added.
“We’ll see tomorrow. We have a great squad but I think all of my players can improve, for example when it comes to getting more bodies in the box when the chance arises.
“There is dialogue with the squad and with individuals. I like speaking to them about how we can improve certain things on the pitch.”