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Winter break does world of good, says Ranieri
Claudio Ranieri could have been forgiven for not wanting 2011 to end before the Italian Serie A championship closed down for a two-and-a-half week winter break.
Inter Milan were riding a wave of good form that took them to six wins in seven games and the best record of anyone in the league over the same period.
Having hovered embarrassingly just above the relegation zone for the first 10 games Inter have now shot up to fifth and are just eight points off joint-leaders AC Milan and Juventus.
But Ranieri actually believes the break will have helped his charges, as will their winter training camp in the sun.
"I don't think seven days of holiday could cool off the team's physical condition," said the former Chelsea and Juve boss.
"While it can have had but a positive effect on their psychological condition.
"That's why I'm convinced this long break will have done none other than good.
"When a player is in top form it doesn't affect his physical condition but rather the psychological one.
"But we didn't decide to have this holiday when we were struggling under water, we were rather anchored at the bottom of the abyss and hence the players needed it to recover all their nervous energy.
"Now we start again. Our aim is to refill the stadium and we can only do that by winning."
Inter's ground has been embarrassingly empty for the majority of the season as fans have protested against poor results with their feet.
Even their recent improvement and a 4-1 win over Lecce hasn't totally convinced demanding supporters, who had got used to winning over the previous six years, with five titles, three cups and the Champions League all secured.
Now Ranieri's focus is firmly on their next game and a Parma side who have rolled over easily against Milan and Juve but proved stubborn in other games against front-runners.
"Parma beat Napoli and Udinese so we'll have to prepare for them with pincers and be very, very focussed," he added.
"My players are determined and I'm sure they'll play well.
"Of course it will be a difficult match because teams close up shop when they come to the San Siro and they have quick players with which to counter-attack.
"Parma have players such as (Sergio) Flocari, (Sebastian) Giovinco and (Jonathan) Biabiany so we'll have to be super-careful."
Ranieri will be without forward Diego Forlan, playmaker Wesley Sneijder as well as veterans Cristian Chivu and Dejan Stankovic, the latter two deemed not quite ready yet.
Ranieri also moved to quash re-emerging rumours that Sneijder is set to move to Manchester, to join either City or United.
"Sneijder is an Inter player and he will stay that way," he said, dismissing the idea he will be used as a makeweight to try to snatch Carlos Tevez away from rivals Milan.
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