Pioli happy with reaction vs. Cagliari and reflects on tough decisions: “I had to do something”

By Isak Möller -

After the 5-1 win against Cagliari this evening, AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli spoke to the media and shared his thoughts on the positive result. He made it clear that he got the reaction he wanted from his players.

Milan headed into the half-time break with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of Ismael Bennacer, but they really got going in the second half. Christian Pulisic doubled the lead after a quick counter and Tijjani Reijnders then scored a rocket. It was then Rafael Leao’s turn, rounding the keeper, before the American got his second.

Speaking to Sky Italia after the game, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the positive performance. Among other things, he stated that the decisions made for tonight’s game all paid off, more or less.

Back to winning ways after six games…

“In recent years, we haven’t been used to not winning for a longer period. It’s clear that the elimination in the Europa League and the defeat in the derby made things difficult. It was a delicate moment and we suffered. Being able to win this match and improve the standings was very important. Well done to the boys who played a game of attention and sacrifice.”

On Rafael Leao…

“You journalists and even the players always tend to see the manager’s decision as a punishment. That’s not the case, I had to do something. It’s been a demanding, tiring year and some players had been less brilliant. I thought it was the right thing and they reacted the way I expected.”

Second place, but still far away from Inter…

“No team has managed to maintain the incredible level of performance and points that Inter achieved. We haven’t managed to have the continuity we needed to stay close but this is a strong team, who tried but couldn’t overcome the decisive moments in a certain moment of the season and lost confidence.”

Have you felt alone in recent weeks?

“No. I have a very good relationship with the directors. I had it with Paolo and Ricky, who brought me to Milan, just like I have had it with the others. We are a great club and there are great expectations. There has been criticism, but it’s part of this job. Sometimes we succeeded but I certainly did some other things wrong.”

Were the stars missing in the big games?

“I believe that in the path we followed at Milan, we always worked, reasoned, thought and played as a team. Against Roma, we played very normal matches and the level was higher. We were unable to interpret to the best of the match, it’s not the fault of whoever. Without going too far back, we threw away the qualification for the Champions League knockout because we played some excellent matches without managing to win. In Europe, we didn’t get as much as we sometimes deserved.”

On the Curva Sud…

“I’m very sorry about this situation. One thing we are proud of is having created this symbiosis which has given us positivity and confidence. I hope for Milan’s future things can be resolved.”

Last game against Salernitana?

“I haven’t spoken to the club yet, we have two games and the season isn’t over yet. Then I hope that the AC Milan environment will find that enthusiasm in overcoming difficult moments and achieving extraordinary goals that no one imagined.”

Leao had the name “Conceiçao” tonight. Is that why you left him on the bench?

“I didn’t know (laughs). This is also part of the role. I repeat, I haven’t met the club yet and I think we will do so before the end of the season or as soon as the season ends. Let’s see.”

Milan will take on Torino away from home next, with the game scheduled for 20:45 CEST on Saturday next week. Only one more win is needed to secure second place, assuming that Juventus will beat Salernitana tomorrow.

Tags AC Milan Cagliari Stefano Pioli


    1. Agreed.

      We owe Pioli so much and if we can’t recognise that then we’re going nowhere as a club.

      It’ll be back to the conveyor belt approach to managers and players and the associated results.

  1. The way he handles provocation is commendable. We will always remember him for the scudetto during a difficult period in the clubs history and restoring UCL participation again. Forza Milan

      1. Yes. That’s Rafa’s mother’s maiden name. This is Rafa’s full name: Rafael Alexandre da Conceição Leão

    1. Yep, with the exception of Theo Hernandez. He hates his father, who abandoned his mother and left her despondent with no child support; that’s why the name on his back is simply Theo. He refuses to include his father’s surname on his jersey.

  2. That was a poor translation of the Italian original, on the question about the Conceição name on Leão’s back. This is what Pioli really said in Italian, translated by me: “I didn’t notice, otherwise I wouldn’t have subbed him in. No, no, I’m kidding (laughs a lot).

    And that had, like others said here, nothing to do with coaches; it was an hommage to Rafa’s moter, for mothers’ day. Her maiden name is Conceição.

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