Parma, 26 January 2020 – Following Sunday’s home victory over Udinese, Coach D’Aversa had this to say to the press:

We wanted to get a result today for two reasons. One being to move up the league standings and maintain the gap with those below us, and the other being able to dedicate a victory to Roberto Inglese after all what has happened. For 60 minutes the lads played some top football, while we then dropped off physically a bit in the second half. Credit goes to the lads for how they performed, particularly in the face of absences and a lack of match fitness for some individuals. I’m thinking about Kucka, Grassi, Gagliolo and Scozzarella. They all played as a team and that is the most important thing, picking up all three points in the process.

“Gagliolo was ill throughout the night, while Grassi wasn’t doing too well this morning. Meanwhile, Kucka had an issue with his calf and Kurtic took a knock during the first half, however, he stuck it out. This makes me extremely proud, to see the lads fighting and looking to get a result regardless of how we play. Aside from goalscoring chances, the most important thing is the attachment to this shirt – it’s taken for granted but I must say that these lads have demonstrated this right from the first day of pre-season.

“It’s clear that there’s been a change in quality compared to last year, however, there’s still continuity in terms of our work-rate and that is the most important thing. I hope that we can keep going in the same manner that we’ve done so far.

I told the lads that they must now go home to recover, while I also praised them for their performance. However, we can’t take our foot off the gas and this must now be a starting point for us to keep improving. We set ourselves a goal of repeating what we did during the first half of the season, however, there’s no reason that we can’t keep getting better. You need to be ambitious in life. We work during the week to prepare for each encounter, and now we’ll be coming up against a Cagliari side that today drew away to Inter, therefore, it’ll be a really tough match.

“As for Kulusevksi, it’s obvious that the expectations are different for him. Before he was just a young lad from the youth team, while he’s now a €40m signing for Juventus. I always tell him to play according to his age, whether that be in training or in a match. He must enjoy himself and not look to prove anything to anyone. He’s a key player that works hard and has plenty of quality. However, he can still improve on certain aspects of his game, including his finishing and when in possession because he still plays quite frenetically at times. He must play with calmness.

“As for our system of play, the players’ positions depend on who we’re playing. We had studied Udinese and we knew that they’re a team that gives very little away. However, the lads tried to do what we’d been working on during the week and they did really well for about 60-70 minutes and I must say that they remained organised throughout.

“Who will return? Maybe just Gervinho but we’ll see. As for Sepe, I think that Gigi is currently one of the best goalkeepers in the league. He’s reached a certain level of maturity and I’m pleased with this. I really like how he’s grown as a person, specifically in terms of his behaviour in the dressing room. I hope that he keeps this up. You also saw today that he couldn’t kick because of a small problem. The pride it gives me to see these players, not at 100 per cent, but still fighting and looking to work hard to reach our objective.

“If I had wanted to make a change up front today then I would not have been able to. The competition this season is much more difficult than in previous years where some teams were already basically relegated. If we want to change our objectives then you must speak with the owners.”