Pioli discusses UCL ambitions, Newcastle as an opponent and post-derby thoughts

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has stressed that he is ‘indebted’ to fans of the club and he admitted that he feels the impact of having such a poor derby record.

In terms of low points under Pioli, there are few that come close to the feeling of the 5-1 demolition at the hands of Inter in the derby on Saturday evening as the Nerazzurri made it five derby wins in a row.

That result thrust so many of the certainties and optimistic signs from the first three games of the season into serious doubt and reignited the doubts about the defensive department and the balance of the midfield.

There is the need for an immediate response, starting on Tuesday evening when the Rossoneri take on Newcastle United in the first game of the Champions League group stages.

Pioli spoke to the reporters who gathered at Milanello after this morning’s training session on the eve of the game against Newcastle and he was alongside Fikayo Tomori, with his comments relayed by MilanNews.

Tomorrow is a new game in a different competition, have Milan switched away from the derby loss?

“We have to do it. We had a lot of expectations about our derby, a lot of positivity. It was a strong disappointment, but we have the Champions League. Luckily, because it was the only way to change our minds. The group is tough and we know how important it would be to start the group well.”

How pleased were you with Ibrahimovic’s presence today?

“Zlatan was supposed to come before the derby, but he had a commitment and came today. We know how much Ibra cares about us and how important he has been for our journey.

“His presence is always positive. It pleased me, the management, to his team-mates. We’ll also see each other out for dinner. We’re ‘friends’, I’m no longer his coach.”

Is this your most difficult moment since being at Milan?

“I have had good moments, but also difficult ones. I feel the weight of the failures in the derby and if I could, I would change these results. I know that I coach a strong team and I know that we will have the ability to react to such a difficult derby.

“I am in debt, because last year when we played really badly they always supported us. And I am in debt because I am the coach who lost the most derbies in a year but we will do everything to make this season positive.”

What will it be like to find Tonali again as an opponent?

“It will be exciting, I will hug him with great affection. It will be very emotional for him to return to San Siro and we wish him the best, but from the match after the one against us.”

Has the time that must be given to new players been underestimated?

“I think we suffered it more who experienced the previous derbies than the new ones. They faced the match with more serenity, which does not mean lack of concentration. After the 3-1 the match became more difficult. It was a Milan who haven’t expressed everything they can give.”

What did Ibra say to the team or to you?

“Today is the day of preparation for an important match. I think he spoke individually. Then he spoke with me about many things, especially the new players and then our things.”

At the beginning of each season the goal is to improve on the previous season. The Champions League starts tomorrow: what does it mean to improve this season?

“It would mean getting to the final. In reality it means concentrating step by step. Tough, balanced group. PSG are the favourite, but Borussia Dortmund and Newcastle are strong and we can take points away from each other.

“But the experience we’ve had can be useful to us and tomorrow’s match can already be useful for the standings.”

What kind of team are Newcastle and will there be any changes?

“They are the classic English team with a lot of intensity and physicality. They have several players over 1.90m, but also with quality players. Fik is back in the line-up otherwise he wouldn’t be here.”

Do you want to revisit the post-derby statements?

“I have a clearly insufficient report card in derbies. You have no idea how much it weighs on me. If I could go to every fan to make them understand how much it weighs on me I would do it, but in relationships it’s not the words that count, but the facts and attitudes.”

Is Reijnders indispensable for this team?

“Tiijani is a strong player, but not indispensable. If he were indispensable, it would make us predictable.”

How do you relate to the team?

“I’m always very attentive to the behaviour of my players. I know very well if the team assimilates the things I propose well and I’m fine when the opposite occurs.

“As long as this is the case, I continue, according to our game concepts; then the positions can change. Maybe tomorrow we will have the same concepts, but different positions.”

Tags AC Milan Milan Newcastle Stefano Pioli


  1. “Is this your most difficult moment since being at Milan?”

    As much as it sucks to lose to inter, especially in the fashion they lost, this current moment doesn’t comes even close to this past winter when Milan was getting humiliated game after game for about a month.
    There is also that Atalanta humiliation in December of 2019.
    So this is absolutely not his most difficult moment as a Milan coach because unfortunately for Milan he has had plenty of bad moments to choose from.

      1. Pioli has reached his limit. He has taken Milan as far as he is capable and now another, more capable coach should come in to take over so it can take Milan higher. It’s a.normal progression

    1. Let’s be honest, any mistake, weakness or hesitation would be punished. I expected this. Inter is a very quick team and they have players in each position that played together for a while. We have yet to settle into the season. Half of our subs haven’t played a full game yet.

      Everything had to go perfectly right for Milan to win or terribly wrong for Inter. It was well known their core was build twice as long as ours.

      This is a wake up call to anyone who thought this team was ready to play Champion’s League finalists and compete. We have a good 2 to 3 more month of asswhoopings being handed to us with this many changes at once. The absolute worse way to transition a team.

  2. “What kind of team are Newcastle and will there be any changes?

    “They are the classic English team with a lot of intensity and physicality. They have several players over 1.90m, but also with quality players. Fik is back in the line-up otherwise he wouldn’t be here.”

    In some weird way, Kjaer might be better suited for this tie given how tall the other team is and their aerial presence

    1. I think we’ll get by Newcastle. I hope so anyway. We should probably be glad the fixture didn’t pitch Milan against PSG or Dortmund after such a humiliating derby loss.

    2. Absolutely not. Kjaer is too slow.
      I would put Musah in place of Krunic to add more muscle into the defensive midfield. Musah is very powerful for his size, and very fast and tenacious, and not easy to knock off the ball. I am convinced he would help shield Milan’s shaky defense a lot better.

      Newcastle’s style is an intense midfield press, with a LOT of heavy fouling – they already have a high yellow card accumulation count in league play, even though English referees are known to allow muggings in broad daylight to get by all the time.

      Newcastle’s inexperience with Champions League will be a big disadvantage. A smart coach would tell the Milan players to bait the Newcastle players to get them in foul trouble and maybe red carded out of the game. The refs in this crew are all Spanish and almost certainly will call more fouls and give out more yellows than Premiere League refs.

  3. “It would mean getting to the final. In reality it means concentrating step by step.”

    Even he knows that semi was a ‘one time’ opportunity.

  4. Pioli is a great coach …you are so unappreciative.
    We have lost just one match …
    We have a good squad of players at our disposal .
    We can still challenge for the scuddeto this season .
    Do you think that inter will not lose some matches of course they will …They obviously prepared better for this match better than us ,but each team is different from one another …look at Napoli ,,already they have lost one match ,,,but that doesn’t mean they are not also in the challenge …
    We will show spirit tomorrow and will beat Newcastle.
    So heads up all you fans …

    1. Yes, absolutely.
      Inter played an amazing match – every one of their shots seemed to go into the goal.
      That will not always be the case – if Lautero and Thuram were really that great already, they would be playing for ManCity or Real by now.

      Looking at their record last season, what kept them from the scudetto was losing and tying low to mid-table teams that outdid them in playing the low block and scoring on set pieces and counterattacks.

      Pioli’s mindset in focusing the mercato on the midfield and forwards was that Milan had the same trouble last season getting past these low to mid-table teams playing the low block.

      The first three matches showed that Pioli seems to have made progress in that department

  5. I will be graciously glad if he stops this right wings inverted tactics….it’s exposing the defence. I just hope somebody in the management tells him this

    1. It might work against team like Bologna and such. But to think that it’d work against team who has a system like Inter, well.. It’s funny how Pioli always emphasizes on his team being unpredictable but in fact he does the exact opposite.

  6. I think the fact that everyone is focusing on Pioli, and nobody is mentioning the players (Thiaw wtf?!?!, RLC, captain America…) really speaks volumes on Pioli’s leadership and shielding of the players. If it were Morinio or Conte, Malik Thiaw would have been hanged already in the post-match interview.

  7. All you anti-pioli fans need to read De Zerbi’s statement from earlier this year. He’s fully committed to Brighton who happen to be brushing aside every team not named Manchester City in the P.L. He’s not joining us for at least 2 years hence. Best bet is Carletto after this season’s up but even that’s a stretch. Worst case Milan scramble for conte who leaves us worse than we were. Pioli statistically has been right up there with Sacchi, Carlo and Capello. Let’s not get out panties in a bunch over the loss to Inter (bad as it was). He has been through it all with Milan yet still won the league, went to the CL semi and qualified for every year*. He more than deserves our backing esp this early in the year. We only lost 3 points and reduced our goal difference technically. Nothing more, nothing less! Move on good people! Long season ahead and we will win/lose more important games. Forza Milan 🔴⚫️

    *This year we only qualified via Juve’s shenanigans but a win is a win people 😂

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