AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has outlined his approach to management while discussing the plan for the club moving forward.
Milan are 24 games unbeaten across all competitions, have scored in their last 26 games, are top of the Serie A table after six rounds and are also top of their Europa League group.
Pioli continues to prove the doubters wrong and managed to fend off Ivan Gazidis’ apparent intentions to replace him with Ralf Rangnick, instilling 4-2-3-1 where there are several immovable players such as Kjaer, Romagnoli, Theo, Bennacer, Kessie, Calhanoglu and Ibrahimovic.
Pioli gave an interview to French newspaper L’Equipe on the day of the game, with his comments transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
He was asked about whether Milan can continue their good form and potentially aim for the Scudetto this season, which would end a 10-year wait for a league title.
“If we were on matchday 32 in this position I would say yes, but there are still many games to go and we must not focus on our goal, which is to return to the Champions League,” he said.
“The clear project of the ownership is this: we no longer look to the past but to the present and the future. Young and strong players were signed, the goal is to make them understand what Milan is to bring the team back to the top, to the glories of the time.
“Young does not mean naive. I have a serious, responsible and mature team. There are players like Donnarumma, Kessie, Romagnoli and Calhanoglu who have a strong personality within the group.”
On Lille and their head coach coach Christophe Galtier, he added: “I know Galtier teams well, therefore also Lille. I faced him in the Europa League in 2015-16 when I was coaching Lazio and he was at Saint-Étienne.
“His teams are always well organised on the pitch and know how to do the two phases well. They have quality players up there, so we have to be careful.”
On Theo Hernandez: “He is one of the best full-backs in Europe, he has great physical and technical qualities. He can read the final third well and has the potential to hurt opponents even alone.
“He is trying to improve every day and he is doing it especially in the defensive phase. He’s a great full-back, I’m satisfied with what he’s doing but he can still improve.”
On the lack of a call-up to the national team for Theo, Pioli responded: “I’m surprised, but I don’t want to interfere with those that are Deschamps’ decisions. France has many talents, but Theo deserves to be called up and is working to enter the national team.”
On Ibrahimovic and his personality: “I have never had problems with players of this level. I know well that when Zlatan intervenes in an authoritarian way towards his team-mates, he does not do it out of presumption but for the good of the team.
“In those cases I don’t intervene but I let him do it, because I know he is bringing something positive into the training. It is extremely easy and beautiful to work with champions like him, because they have a great dedication to work both on and off the pitch.”
On his style of management: “Simplicity is an important feature. I have my own football ideas but I always try to adapt them to the players I have available. I’m not a fundamentalist, I always try to put the group in the best possible conditions to be able to perform, according to the technical characteristics of my players.”