Pioli discusses ‘great opportunity’ vs. Inter and responds to rumours of an internal row

By Isak Möller -

On the eve of the clash between AC Milan and Inter, Stefano Pioli spoke to the media at his usual press conference. The Rossoneri are in a dire situation and the manager is well aware of this. 

In the last three games, Pioli’s men have conceded a staggering 12 (!) goals and certainly need to improve defensively in order to get back to winning ways. However, the fact that Inter are up next hasn’t made life easier.

The players still have the 3-0 loss in the Supercoppa final at the top of their minds and hopefully that can act as fuel. Speaking at the press conference, as transcribed by MilanNews, Pioli shared his thoughts on the situation.

A full week of work at Milanello hasn’t happened in a while. What was it like?

“We have prepared a game plan, also given our last matches and the Supercoppa final. We threw ourselves into our work with attention and determination, which will be useful tomorrow in the match.”

Is there a symbolic match that you can take as an example in view of tomorrow’s match?

“I don’t know if the date matches last year’s derby… But regardless if it’s a symbolic game or not, we have a great opportunity and we must do everything to seize it.”

How’s the team doing?

“From the point of view of work and the desire to do things with care, it was an excellent week.”

Have you done an analysis of the Supercoppa game?

“It’s quite easy to analyse that game. In games like this, single moments can decide the match: we have suffered three of these situations. We need to do better with tomorrow.”‘

On the post-Sassuolo criticisms and team spirit that is lacking…

“The criticisms aren’t excessive, in the last three games the criticisms are justified. When things don’t go well I’m the first to question myself. I’m convinced that we can do better, I can help the team do better because the last few performances haven’t been up to our standard.

“When faced with difficulties, a normal group has different attitudes than those we have. That the spirit has been lost is not the case, but we have to prove it.”

Can you isolate the most beautiful phrase you’ve heard from one of your players this week?

“I didn’t say that we found a unity of purpose this week, it has never been lacking here. Performance was lacking, yes. Everything that has happened to us in these three years has not been a coincidence. We have chosen to work in a certain way and share certain things, we have chosen to understand our mistakes, analyze and try to do better from the next match.”

How useful can Ibra’s leadership be? Why wasn’t he included in the Champions League list?

“He has always been of tangible importance in this team. Unfortunately, Zlatan trained for ten minutes with us yesterday and today he didn’t work with us. Unfortunately for him, the two games against Tottenham take place soon and right now we don’t know when he will be 100%.

“I hope with all my heart that he can come back soon. Few people would do what he’s doing to come back from such a difficult and complicated injury. He doesn’t give up. But not having the guarantee, I had no other choices and I communicated it to him a few days ago.”

On the mistakes resulting in goals conceded…

“It’s a combination of individual and departmental situations that need to be developed better. The tally of our goals conceded is too high, that’s already a starting point and we know where we need to be.”

Will you let your players hear the comments of Inter players following the Supercoppa final, such as ‘we ate them’?

“There’s a rule in sport, the winner celebrates, the loser explains, but I’d rather shut up, and suffer. So let’s try to change the order of things that have happened lately.”

There are rumours of internal and personal friction that emerge when there is a negative result…

“The answer is too easy. If the problem were that I had an argument with a player it would be even easier, instead, it’s the other way around. It’s a group that is working to get back to one’s level. No one has ever had negative or unsuitable attitudes toward our way of working and being together. We are a compact group and aware that much more needs to be done.”

With Inter in such good shape and Napoli running, would a draw be acceptable tomorrow?

“In terms of mentality, you can’t start a game thinking of drawing it, you get closer to the other negative result. We will try to win, we want to play a great game.”

On goals and the Champions League race…

“The Champions League area is an important goal. We shouldn’t take it for granted. You just have to look at the standings of any other European league to understand that Napoli are doing something truly impressive and it becomes difficult for all those who are behind. We have to win many games from here to the end to finish as high as possible.”

On the three-man midfield…

“I don’t know. Or let’s put it this way, I know, but I won’t tell you today.”

On the management of the retreat in Dubai and how the group perceives the injuries…

“In Dubai, we had a few too many injuries when it was time to put some petrol in the engine. Having two small injuries like those of Bennacer and Tomori having resumed playing so often can unfortunately happen, but the team is in good condition.”

Did Ibra talk to the rest of the team?

“I talk to Zlatan every day. I think he has talked to all his teammates, he knows how to approach the right situations.”

What about Ingter scares you?

“We have great respect, but we’ve already shown that we can play. We think of tomorrow’s match as a great opportunity to show who we are and get back to winning ways.”

Should Milan fail to claim all three points, obviously depending on in which fashion, then Pioli could come under scrutiny. It’s thus a very important game for the manager who has been catching a lot of heat recently.

Tags AC Milan Inter Stefano Pioli

1 Comment

  1. Milan have many weak positions this year …. goalkeeper, scared tomori and kalulu, no gritty midfielder, no right wing, no strong central attacker, a tired theo, an old giroud and a lethargic leao …. and the results on the field confirm all this ….

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