AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli admitted he has begun to draw reflections on the season after his side booked a Champions League place, and also spoke about the upcoming summer window.
Milan came into the game against Juventus looking for just one point to secure their place in the top four and in the end they left Turin with all three thanks to a brilliant first half header from Olivier Giroud.
In truth it was far from a classic between two sides who looked exhausted and lacking in quality after a long and arduous season, but the Rossoneri did what they needed to do and now a third straight season awaits in Europe’s top club competition.
Pioli spoke to DAZN after the game to reflect on what is only a third league double over Juve in the last 50 years, with his comments relayed by MilanNews and translated below.
How do you judge the season?
“It’s time to take stock. The Champions League gave us more than we expected but also a lot of bitterness, going out in the final against Inter. In the league we did less than we could have, reaching the Champions League is a beautiful thing.
“This year was the first time we tried to be competitive on two fronts and we missed out on something, that’s the truth. The team is strong, let’s enjoy the victory. And then it was a strange season. We did 5 months without Maignan, the best goalkeeper in the league. And then our best players took part in the World Cup.”
What did you say to the players in the huddle at the end?
“They spoke, as it should be. They were the main players. We wanted to do well tonight so as not to take it to the last game. They celebrated as they should and I can only thank them. We’ve had ups and downs but the group has never stopped believing in work, in being cohesive.”
What do you expect from the summer window?
“It always depends on the expectations we want to achieve. If we want to be competitive to win the league and reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, it is clear that the team needs to improve.
“To compete in two competitions of this level, you need strong players: then if they’re young, I’m happy, because they’re enthusiastic. If the club wants to be competitive in both competitions, clearly it will have to create a competitive squad.
“It was easier last year than this one. Everyone is responsible, you need patience even if I understand that it isn’t there. If you focus on young players you have to wait, it’s useless otherwise and I always make the examples of Leao and Tonali. I think the club must carry its idea forward, it’s a virtuous club.”
Is that the will of the club?
“I am the coach, you have to ask Maldini and Massara who are interlocutors with the owners and will know what they will have at their disposal.”
Could you return to the three-man defence seen in February?
“In a year of choices that can be changed, there are many possibilities but I don’t think so. We had reached a moment in which we were no longer a team and let’s not forget that we remained an aggressive team.
“That system allowed us to overcome Tottenham, only then we could overcome them. Then when the condition of our players returned, we went back to playing with the 4-2-3-1.”