Stefano Pioli has given his thoughts on the rise of Malick Thiaw and also outlined why he thinks AC Milan have not been able to give a Scudetto defence a real go.
Milan had a very difficult start to 2023 which saw them go from being minutes away from cutting the gap to Napoli down to five points before throwing away a lead against Roma to now battling for the top four after a run of six league games without a win.
Pioli spoke at the award ceremony that saw him win the Panchina d’oro for the 2021-22 season, with his comments relayed by SempreMilan.it, and he began by outline what is missing in today’s Milan compared to the team that won the Scudetto.
“Cohesion and compactness. Easy to be a team when things are going well, it was much less easy to get through those difficult three or four weeks. We have shown that we are a group that wants to overcome difficulties and we have come out even stronger,” he said.
“Obviously there is still a season to play and the judgments are limited to the first part of the season, we still have a lot of satisfaction to be able to take away. And then not only was the team cohesive, this year especially our fans demonstrated what a ‘united environment’ means. They could have created difficulties for us, but with their passion they helped the team in a particular moment.”
One of the bright spots from the last week has been the rise of Malick Thiaw, who has gone from being seemingly the fifth-choice centre-back to taking advantage of the three-man defence and the poor form of some others to now become a seemingly immovable starter.
On his development and the idea of him following the same trajectory as Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori, Pioli was full of praise.
“We hope so, he is an applied boy with good characteristics to be a modern defender. He is only at the beginning but I think he has the qualities to impose himself.”