Pioli discusses Theo’s position and defensive issues: “We have to improve”

By Isak Möller -

On the eve of the clash between AC Milan and Roma, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at the usual pre-match press conference. The manager discussed the Rossoneri’s main struggles, such as conceding too many goals, and also previewed the game. 

Following the disappointing display against Atalanta, Milan will be looking to bounce back with a good win against Roma tomorrow. San Siro is sold out for the clash and it should make for a great atmosphere, but the pressure is also on the players.

Speaking at the press conference, as cited by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on various topics, including the position of Theo Hernandez. He was also asked about the position in the standings, and whether Milan should look down or up.

Given Milan’s position in the standings, what is best to do, look down or up?

“Trying to have a very specific objective, that of improving the first round. Improving it would guarantee a third-place finish, if you want more than that then you have to improve it a lot.”

Was there a meeting after Atalanta?

“A meeting took place. It seemed to me to be an effective meeting on what we want to do from tomorrow onwards. We have very clear objectives. We suffered another disappointment after the Champions League, we must transform this disappointment into great energy to redeem ourselves immediately.”

Is there an idea to put Theo on the left again?

“I think Theo did very well as a central defender, even the other night he gave an assist to Rafa. I’ll see what choices to make for tomorrow, Theo will certainly be on the pitch.”

Mourinho said that Milan are fighting for the title…

“Mourinho is a top manager. Intelligent, clever and shrewd, before certain matches he always exalts his opponents.”

Yesterday, the AIA chief  Rocchi asked for more respect…

“I completely agree with Rocchi. I respect him a lot. All of us professionals must lower our tone, we want a calm discussion. If any of the professionals make mistakes they must be punished harshly. On the other hand, I ask for more uniformity and consistency in the refereeing metrics.”

You are unbeaten against Mourinho, why?

“There are never clashes between coaches but between teams that try to put their qualities on the field. Playing against Roma is never easy, they are a very physical and organized team, they are very dangerous on dead balls. We will have to put in a high-level performance to win.”

What did you talk about in the locker room?

“We have two competitions left, we will have four ‘clean weeks’ of the league before the Europa League. Our most negative number is the goals conceded, this must be an objective for all the players, the whole team must defend better, be more collaborative and more organised. If it is true that we are the second-best attack and the sixth-best defence, we must have this focus. If we all give a little more we can achieve better results.”

Have you heard from Cardinale in the last few hours?

“I haven’t heard from the owners but I always hear from our directors: Furlani, Zlatan, Moncada and D’Ottavio. The presence of the owners is always a positive stimulus. None of us can be satisfied with the season, we have the aim of improving it.”

Milan’s numbers in big games are not exactly positive…

“When you face opponents of your calibre, you either maintain a high level or you risk losing matches. We certainly haven’t managed to have a very high level in head-to-head matches, It’s another aspect to improve.”

Will Milan sign another defender on the market?

“The club is working to fill this need. Gabbia has arrived, Terracciano has arrived, we have filled our difficulties a bit but we are certainly still missing a defender.”

The substitution against Atalanta, Kjaer instead of Simic. Is there a particular explanation?

“Because due to the positions we had against Atalanta, I thought Kjaer was more suitable to occupy the central position. Now, with all due respect, it seems exaggerated to me to talk about SImic having fallen off the radar. He is doing very well and is being taken into consideration.”

Can Milan get back into the Scudetto race?

“At this moment, we must have the objective of redeeming ourselves immediately because we have a duty to do so. I believe that within ourselves we must also have the ambition to live every match knowing that we have the possibility of winning. In the last 7 games, we have shown that we have had a good pace, only Inter and Juve have scored an extra point.”

What is Terracciano’s role?

“At the moment, he’s working on the flank, as a full-back. Tomorrow we won’t have Florenzi, that’s where he could be used. He’s a very available player with great technical and physical abilities. Now I’ve put him in the most external position.”

When you say you need to find cohesion and organisation, do you think it could be a solution to put the players back in their roles to restore certainty?

“I think I have always put the players in their roles, then based on the match we try to have the right balance. We have to improve, because we continue to concede goals when we are in numerical superiority. If it happens in numerical superiority, it means that we have lacked attention and communication and we have to improve there.”

The emotional difficulty of the team…

“I have honestly never seen the team collapse. Last season, I saw them collapse on a mental level and not be able to react, not this year. It is clear that there are situations that we need to improve, and it’s clear that if we only think about the last match it doesn’t fit that a team like us can concede a goal from a kick-off after scoring a goal. We all need to be more careful.”

How is the team physically?

“Physically good, we have excellent data. We had the same data as Atalanta, who are usually among the best in terms of physical data. Both in acceleration and in volume we are fine, this is absolutely not the period where we can experience physical declines. I believe that too many times too much importance is given to the physical aspect depending on the results of the matches, the technical-tactical and mental situations are much more important, but we have not had any physical declines.”

Glass half full or half empty?

“Glass half empty, because after the important start, we had that month of decline and we could have got more points than 39.”

10 points difference between Milan and Roma…

“The ranking does not affect the field; it will be an open, hard-fought challenge against an experienced opponent. We must demonstrate that we are stronger.”

Need a little sense of danger?

“The whole team must realise that danger can arise and every player must realise it: every single ball can be the decisive one to win or not win the match.”

Filippo Terracciano could start on the left flank tomorrow, which would allow Hernandez to stay in the centre. However, Pioli’s answer was rather strange as Hernandez only managed an assist by effectively playing as a left-back, having more freedom than any other centre-back would.

Tags AC Milan Roma Stefano Pioli


  1. “we are certainly still missing a defender”

    That just is not reality and leads me to believe it is Pioli pushing for another CB when we really need a DM.
    Im losing the faith in him by the day

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