Sacchi says he ‘expected more’ than Fonseca: “I will be the first to applaud him”

By Isak Möller -

Arrigo Sacchi was interviewed for today’s edition of Gazzetta dello Sport and shared his thoughts on AC Milan’s decision to hire Paulo Fonseca. Among other things, he stated that he expected a bigger name to replace Stefano Pioli. 

Fonseca is reportedly just one step away from Milan, with a three-year deal worth €3m per season on the table. The official announcement should arrive at the start of June, after the friendly against Roma next week, and then work will begin on the mercato.

Speaking to the pink newspaper (see photo below), Sacchi shared his thoughts on Milan’s decision to appoint Fonseca. He expected a bigger name and would have preferred someone like Maurizio Sarri or Vincenzo Italiano.

Happy with the choice?

“If I’m honest: I expected a more important name. Or at least, since I’m Italian, I hoped that the directors would choose a coach from our homeland.”

Who, for example?

“Milan need a strategist, a coach who knows how to give the team a game and who through the game enhances the human material available. There are excellent coaches who would have been right for the Rossoneri.

“I think of De Zerbi, Sarri, Gasperini, Italiano, Motta who is not Italian but it’s as if he were… Those I have just mentioned know Serie A, they know the dynamics of our football, they have ideas and they have demonstrated it. Fonseca is all to be discovered.”

He coached Roma…

“Yes, but he didn’t amaze. Fonseca was very good in Ukraine, where he led Shakhtar Donetsk and won three consecutive league titles. In France, he claimed fifth and fourth place. Not exceptional results.”

Choice to fail, then?

“Let’s not exaggerate. Let’s say that it’s a choice to be evaluated through the work and the game proposal that will be offered to the public. Fonseca must be given the necessary time to assemble the team. There should be no prejudice. I will be the first to applaud him if Milan have fun and demonstrate that they are a courageous, modern, European team.”

What should Fonseca’s first moves be?

“First of all, he must know the players he will have to coach well. He must choose who is suitable for his Milan and who is not. And then he must give clear indications for the mercato. Based on the game he intends to develop, it is up to him to decide the interpreters. Otherwise, if they buy him players who aren’t suitable and then things go wrong, he pays, and that wouldn’t be fair.”

The role of directors will be fundamental, what do you say?

“The club comes before the coach, the coach comes before the team, and the team comes before the individual. This is the hierarchy if you want to achieve success. The directors, after choosing him, must help Fonseca.

“When I arrived at Milan, after a somewhat complicated start, Berlusconi called the players together and told them: ‘I have full faith in Arrigo. Whoever follows him will stay. Whoever does not follow him will leave.’  So he gave me strength and put me in the best conditions to work.”

What do you expect from a tactical point of view from Fonseca?

“I hope that he is able to interpret football in a modern way, that he is courageous and that he instils this courage in his players, that he is a strategist and not a tactician, that he has the desire to dominate his opponent.”

How will the fans welcome him?

“They are passionate and competent. I expect Fonseca to offer exciting football. To do this he will need reliable people, generous players.”

Sacchi is known for pushing his Italian agenda on Milan and one could certainly question why someone like Italiano would be more ready than Fonseca. One has experience from both Serie A and abroad, the other one hasn’t.

Tags AC Milan Arrigo Sacchi


    1. literally was about to say this…… Can you coordinate your comments with me before you post please… LMAO!!!

  1. Girioud is leaving, if they sell Leao and Theo as speculated, this team will quickly go back in pre Maldini era. From seria A winners, to Fiorentina level.

  2. The part I don’t understand is where people keep saying milan should have gone for a bigger coach, then go ahead to recommend De Zerbi or Motta.

    Two coaches that haven’t won anything in their coaching career.

    He said Fonseca finished 4th & 5th… I definitely didn’t see any of those 2 coaches finishing higher than that these past few season with teams they coached.

    How are they bigger than Fonseca?

    1. Motta has a lot of upside given what he was able to do with an average Bologna team. Does Fonseca give you the feeling of the same upside?

    2. The thing is that De Zerbi, Motta are young coaches who are promissing. Similar like getting young Theo. Was he great at 20 years old ? No, but he had potential to become something great. Fonseca is more like Krunic, he has been around for a while so what you see its what you get, he is not totally bad but not great either.

    3. Completely agree that Motta and De Zerbi haven’t proven to be top level yet. There are a dime a dozen coaches like Motta who succeed in small teams, and then collapse in the bigger clubs. Not to take anything from his achievements with Bologna, but people refer to him sometimes like he’s Klopp. De Zerbi seems to construct a nice attacking game to his teams, but we actually need someone to (first) organize our defensive game. And anyways, he has nowhere near the experience of a top coach.

      For me, the only clear upgrade that was ever on the cards was Conte, but management didn’t want to go there.

      1. Have you seen Conte’s figures at Napoli? 6.5-7mil/season PLUS 2mil in Bonuses. NO WAY RedBird is paying a coach as much as the start player.

        1. Yeah, that’s the salary demands of coaches in the top tier. But actually the salary wasn’t the issue. I think the issue was probably his demands in terms of squad investment, and mostly his volatile personality. Cardinale most likely doesn’t want to give away too much power. This makes sense, but also I would say, that eventually we need to start looking into that tier, and we ain’t gonna get no yes-man there.

    4. You are absolutely right.
      Those other coaches are not better than Fonseca. They are Italians. That’s why he is praising them while he is unimpressed by Fonseca.
      They are all same level coaches.

      1. Pioli was a journeyman coach before coming to Milan. He was sacked sometimes after just a season. And at Fiorentina he was not good at all, winning just 36% of the games while at the helm.

        I think people need to reserve their thoughts on Fonseca, who has a pretty good record at Lille. His record at Roma wasn’t great, but again so wasn’t Pioli’s at Fiorentina or Inter before he came to us.

        1. Exactly.
          Sacchi mentioned Italiano who was the promising coach and was a failure at Fiorentina.
          De Zerbi has done nothing in his career outside of being hyped up by Guardiola.
          Sarri is old and just failed at Lazio.
          Gasperini just won his 1st ever trophy. Not even Copa Italia, but he us hyped like a great coach.

          1. You miss the part where Gasperini has turned a relegation level team in to a top team with close to zero budget, and keeps doing it year after year. Not to mentione that he constantly outplays big clubs. Similar for De Zerbi, coached relegation teams that made it to Europe. If you hide all the positives everyone can look not bad.

          2. @Rossi what does that mean?
            Simone Inzaghi was working with almost no budget and won trophies with Lazio. Atalanta had better team than Lazio during those years and won nothing.
            Atalanta this season had way better squad than Bologna but Bologna was ahead of them the whole year. If they didn’t relax after they secured UCL Bologna would have finished ahead of Gasperini’s Atalanta.
            Fact is he hasn’t won anything until the Europa league trophy. Similar to Pioli.
            Brighton finished 9th the season before De Zerbi took over, what relegation team are you talking about.
            They were 4th on the table when Potter decided to quit so he can go to Chelsea mid season and De Zerbi took over.

          3. As far as Gasperini, he runs hot and cold. His team ran red hot in the Europa League, true. But in the League his form was mediocre at best and Atalanta at times was almost out of the top 5.

            Gasperini’s own team isn’t consistent.

          4. Have you seen the players that gasperini has to work with? Gasperini is without a shadow of a doubt a grade higher than Fonseca. He brought in young rejects and has been a constant threat to any top 4 team for the last few seasons. He just needs time to implement his ideas. The competitiveness of his atalanta with that kind of a budget is just great. He is a good coach

    5. Fonseca won 3 league titles in Ukraine. Do we all remember that Luis Enrique also came to Coach AS ROMA and did not perform in ROMA,but,HE performed in BARCELONA AND PSG.

  3. I agree completely with Sacchi. Furthermore, there were also plenty of better option abroad. Flick, Xavi, Hoeness, Glasner, Conceicao, Amorim, Tuchel etc. So many opportunities to really push Milan forward with something exciting and they manage to pick the least ambitious of them all…

    1. Well that sums up the management ambition. Scaroni even mentioned himself couple of days ago that they are not interested in winning seria A really, and they just want to get in the CL to keep the fans engaged. Turns out the haters who were against this management were right all along.

  4. RedBird have shown they don’t care about the popular opinion plenty of times in the past. They have a model they will follow no matter the outcries. Doesn’t matter that we voice discontent or the curva whistles.

    They are gonna do what they are gonna do and we’ll have to do our best to make sense of it and process it.

    If Fonseca is appointed, keep expectations subdued and let’s see the work he does. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    If Fonseca is tactically flexible with in game (or even game to game) adjustments and player management then that already makes him better than Pioli.

    1. If Fonseca can make a credible challenge for the scudetto, while also advancing the group stages in CL, then and only then will he be better than Pioli.

      But I agree on RedBird. I think their strategy is to not “go all in” until the stadium is at least under construction. The logic probably being again reliable cash flow. If we get there eventually, and won’t be forever stuck in the “rebuilding phase”, then I would be more than happy. But it is a big IF at this moment.

      1. RedBird model seems like a sustainable but over a longer term. I think the fans are ready for results NOW, and that’s where a lot of the criticism comes in, which I can understand.

        Slow progressive improvement of the squad, completion of a stadium, continued financial improvement and this thing will eventually start humming.

        “Results now” seems like a costlier model and not one that’s sustainable if Inter’s model is anything to go by. I won’t be surprised if OakTree in fact start following the RedBird model now.

        1. The “results now” are understandable in our case because RedBird essentially inherited a team that has just won a scudetto and, despite several weaknesses, only needed some fine tunings in order to at least remain competitive in serie A. Now somehow, we find ourselves in this position where asking for a team capable of winning titles seems unreasonable and unlikely in the short term.
          While you might argue that the fans (we) should aim for the long term improvment even if it means taking one step back to make 2 steps forward, I think this feeling of frustration and distrust is very understandable.
          (I was not posting too quickly)

  5. “Berlusconi called the players together and told them: ‘I have full faith in Arrigo. Whoever follows him will stay. Whoever does not follow him will leave.’”
    This is the kind of support a coach needs. That’s excellent from the former late Prez. It’s basically saying, either you play for the coach or get out regardless of your skill or stature. No one is above him and it also suggests he’s there for the long run. Man I wished to they had shown more support to Pioli. They just left him out to dry

    1. That’s fair, but I think no one really believed in Pioli. Even when Maldini was still here there was a clear desire to upgrade, especially if the Pirlo rumors were true.

      I think everyone knew that Pioli was limited and that eventually they needed to move on. In fact, had it not been for the player turnover last summer, Pioli would have been sacked then.

      1. That’s fine. The bigger point was support, particularly this season at crucial times (like during the Roma tie and nearing the end when rumours began to swirl). At least pretend to support. Berlusconi after saying that could have easily fired Sacchi at season’s end. But in the midst of the season and to demonstrate to everyone how things will operate he basically put the coach in charge with outward trust and didn’t undermine him. By doing what he did basically told everyone that he is Sacchi so if u disagree u can go OR you can play your socks off and stay. If he didn’t say anything then Sacchi wouldn’t have been able to handle the egos in the dressing room.
        I recall even when Pippo was having a disastrous season with us Uncle fester still didn’t undermine him.

  6. Another move which proves the new management doesn’t understand football. Fonseca has shown not to be the best tactician or motivator and they still go for him. I do hope he proves otherwise this time. Although Motta signed for Juventus there were other great names available to pursue. Gasperini being first choice in my opinion. He is a coach that has shown consistency even with a mediocre team. They did great in the Europa League and managed to end Leverkusen’s winning streak.

    1. There are better coaches available for sure. But to say “Another move which proves the new management doesn’t understand football” is just dense.

  7. Fonseca did fine with Lille, especially with player development.

    Pioli flopped at several teams before coming to Milan. He was a bit of a journeyman as far as management is concerned, sometimes not even lasting a season. Let’s wait and see.

    1. The ones you looked down in above comments RDZ and Gasp are much better at players development and made hundreds of millions profit in players sale.

  8. Fonseca won 3 league titles in Ukraine. Do we all remember that Luis Enrique also came to Coach AS ROMA and did not perform in ROMA,but,HE performed in BARCELONA AND PSG.

    1. It doesn’t help that Roma’s management is like a merry go around with players, and they keep signing has beens like El Sharaawy. I don’t know if we really should blame Fonseca for what was going on there.

  9. Personally, it’s like taking a school trip and the teacher decides where we’re all gonna have lunch at. We could just ask the school chef to cook and brought it for lunch, we could be eating at the five star restaurant or we could be eating street food.

    Given the prestige and fame of our school, of course we all would prefer to have our lunches in AT LEAST a decent, if not GOOD, restaurant. Not everyone would agree which one, but there should be some kind of consensus that our school’s prestige is reflected upon where we’ll be eating, especially with a lot of GOOD restaurants who are available to accommodate us. Of course, whether the food is indeed nice or not, is different story. There are some hidden gems in the street food, and some overly expensive food in the five-star restaurant which won’t worth it.

    Being the schoolkids that we are – we have no say in the decisions taken by our teachers. We could only throw tantrums and protest if they decided to bring us to undesirable place, but that’s all we could do. Being the warden of the trip, ultimately, they would pick a place and we all have to bear with it and.. let the chef cook.

    Hopefully the food would be pleasant to look at and most importantly, satisfy our hunger. So, in the end of the day, we could tell to our noisy and irritating cousin that our trip was better.

    1. Wow, what an immature set of analogies. People were whining about Pioli before, and even I Wasn’t happy when Pioli came. I wanted Spaletti. Pioli delivered a league title.

      Your restaurant analogies scream childish immaturity. It doesn’t work that way in the real world.

      1. Wtf?

        All I’m trying to say is to let the new chef cook and hopefully he delivers, be it Fonseca, or anyone else.

        Like any other fans, I too have my preference (RDZ) and was hoping that it wasn’t someone like Conte. But even if Conte was the one appointed, I’ll get behind him hoping that he would deliver too.

        So, I don’t know why you got so worked up here for.

  10. lol Milan fans campaign Nopetugi and got an even worse coach in Fonseca. De Zebri and Gasp are much better. They made a lot of profit for their respective clubs.

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