Milan have started this season in the best way possible, having won their Europa League group and currently sitting first in the league standings. Stefano Pioli, the head coach, deserves all the praise he can get.
Along with the players, he has created an incredibly resilient team, capable of performing even when the big stars are missing on the pitch. After ten games, they have collected 26 points and have a goal difference of +14.
In an interview with Sportweek, which is the well-known weekly edition of Gazzetta Dello Sport (via MilanNews), Stefano Pioli talked about his way of coaching. He also touched on the Rossoneri’s current form, the seasonal goals and more.
On the definition ‘the normal one’: “I’m glad. If by ‘normal’ you mean someone who wants to grow and always improve, then I am. I deserve everything I have, because I put so much passion into it.
“But ‘normal’ doesn’t mean that I have little character and personality. In football, too often, education and respect are confused with the lack of character and charisma. I often get angry, even if it’s a little less now at Milan.”
On the hashtag #Pioliout: “In football, there is no balance: either you are too good or you are too poor. But it’s not like that and I know it’s not like that. I have an empty board, but I’m convinced of my abilities. So I don’t care about what they say on the outside. To win you need the right team, and up to now, I don’t think I had one.”
On Milan: “Today I consider myself a coach suitable for any team. And at Milan, I feel in the right place at the right time. With Maldini, Massara and Gazidis I work in harmony. There is a group of players that the club has shaped, improving it little by little. We haven’t done anything yet, but the results speak for themselves.”
On the seasonal goals: “At Milanello we must be balanced and intelligent: last season we got 12 points from the Champions zone and 17 from the winners Juve. It’s not right to think about the Scudetto when just ten games have passed. We just have to have the courage to continue to grow, be ambitious and try to win every match, because we are Milan and we have quality. In April, we will see where we are.”
On Ibrahimovic: “The team is aware of their qualities and by now they have a clear understanding of the game concepts. Having said that, we know how important Zlatan has been for the growth of the group and how important his presence on the pitch is. But we have other characteristics to play when he’s not with us.”
On the first meeting with Ibra: “I waited for him in the gym at the end of training. He came when it was dark. We hugged each other, and I had never hugged someone so big. I met few people as intelligent and nice. But that’s off the pitch, therefore on it, Ibra is an animal. And it’s a compliment, mind you. I asked him to put his qualities at the service of a young team.”
If Milan have grown thanks to empty stadiums: “No. We have grown from January onwards, with the work and the arrival of Ibra, Kjaer, Saelemaekers. We can’t wait to return to play in front of our fans. I’ve never seen an audience as warm and understanding as ours. We’d be stronger with them and our opponents should fear us much more.”
Milan’s clash with Parma will kick off at 20:45 CET tomorrow, with the Rossoneri returning to San Siro after two consecutive away games. Anything other than three points would be disappointing, of course, given the respective form of the two sides.