Former AC Milan head coach Fabio Capello has stated that Zlatan Ibrahimovic must remain humble after returning to the club and that his role has to be defined so as not to interfere with Stefano Pioli’s work.
During a statement yesterday it was confirmed that Ibrahimovic has taken on a new role after retiring from football back in June, one that will see him work not only with Milan but also with RedBird and their many business interests.
There has been a lot of speculation about his return over the past couple of months and exactly what capacity it would be in, given that the Swede does not have coaching badges or the qualifications to be a senior director.
Capello spoke during an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport about Ibrahimovic going back to Milan, giving his thoughts on all aspects from off-field tasks to potential on-field impact.
Capello, does having been a great champion as a player help you become a great manager?
“They are two paths that are too different, there is no automatic consequence. If before Ibra chose the best for himself, by working as a group he must be able to make some compromises, without selfishness.
“‘It’s just done like this’ can only be said by those in charge really, and that is the owner of the club. And many aspects influence certain decisions, some of which will be new to him: taking budgets into account, for example.”
What is your advice this time?
“He will have to maintain his personality and the courage to take on responsibilities. In this he must not change. But also use the intelligence he has to know how to adapt to the role. Know where and when to intervene to do the good of everyone, opening up to discussion.”
As Milan coach, would you be happy to find Zlatan again as a ‘Senior Advisor’?
“Ibra is certainly a big figure, positive as a player for Milan and for Pioli himself, the results have clearly demonstrated this. Today, however, reality changes quite a lot. If the question is: ‘Will Pioli feel less alone with him?’.
“The answer may be yes, especially if the boundaries are well defined beyond all the diplomacy that accompanied his return. Likewise, it is the aspect that worries me most: a figure who can relate to the team does not obscure the leadership of the coach towards the group?
“After the departure of Maldini and Massara, does the ownership believe that Pioli performed less well and that for this reason he needs a ‘collaborator’? A coach needs to maintain total credibility towards his interlocutors.”
Ibra will have much broader powers than a simple motivator, as has happened in the last period: what does it take to establish himself in the new role?
“Everything. I remember that Berlusconi made me attend courses in management, psychology and more: I will never stop thanking him for this, they were all important moments of training. Zlatan no longer has the ball between his feet, he must learn to influence another way and for this reason it will take time for him too, a sort of apprenticeship period.
“But Ibra himself will have to commit, study, understand, learn what to do. Between being part of a locker room and not being part of it but still having a say there is a big difference and Ibra, I repeat, will have to be intelligent in managing the new role.”
He will also have different responsibilities: previously only on the field, today no longer…
“Fortunately, he has never been afraid of responsibilities. Of course, if he participates in technical choices at management level he could also end up among the ‘defendants’ together with the club. But first of all it is necessary to clarify the relationship with the coach, and above all how Ibrahimovic will fit into the relationship between Pioli and the team.”