Former AC Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi has once again sung the praises of Stefano Pioli and the current team for the season they are having.
Sacchi was interviewed by La Gazzetta dello Sport and was asked about Pioli and his time on the Milan bench so far. Given that the Rossoneri are top of the table with eight games to go, fans are beginning to dream that a 19th Scudetto could actually be more than just a possibility.
“I’ve known him for a long time. His modesty and intelligence have always convinced me. And then, lately, he’s shown he’s grown quite a lot,” he said (via SempreMilan.it).
“Not always before did his teams have such a clear identity, now they do. Milan is a team that has a style, a precise game. They are not always coordinated, sometimes they stretch too much, this is true, but the idea is there. And it’s a positive idea.”
Sacchi was asked if there are some similarities between the way Pioli coaches and the way that he tried to lead his teams in the late 1980s into the 1990s.
“The will to establish a modern style of football. I too looked forward, never to the past. Pioli has designed a team that is projected into the future: together with Atalanta they are the most ‘European’ in our league.
I admire Stefano’s desire to improve, which is always the result of a lack of presumption. He questions himself. Always, even when he wins. Because he knows that only in this way can we grow. Those who stop and who look in the mirror don’t go far.
“He understood that the game comes first and then the players. And the game helps players improve and not feel alone. For a precise economic strategy, which I agree with, Milan have chosen not to spend and spread on the market.
“Well done Maldini and Massara to take players functional to the coach’s ideas. And Pioli is good at making these guys a group, a collective. It seems to me that he interprets the mission of football well, born to be an attacking team sport.”
The management of the locker room is something that Pioli has also received praise for as he has established a real unity that can be seen once the players cross the white line, while seemingly keeping everyone happy.
“I have not heard any controversy within the environment. Pioli knows how to make himself loved by players and managers. He reminds me of Carletto Ancelotti for how he talks with his boys and for how he helps them,” Sacchi said.
“Always a word of encouragement, always a hand on the shoulder of those in need. Let’s say he drives the ship wisely and with
intelligence. And then he adds innovative ideas.”
On Milan being like a family, Sacchi commented: “It was like that for me too. This depends on the history of the club and its style. People change, but values do not change. Pioli is working a kind of miracle, because at a technical and experience level
Milan is inferior to Inter, Napoli and Juve.
“However, thanks to the fact that they are a collective, his guys are in the lead and, despite not having a favourable calendar, they can really accomplish the feat. I see the hand of the coach when one player gets injured, another enters and nobody notices it: it means that the game has been internalised, that everyone knows what to do.”
Finally, Sacchi was asked about the improvements that could be made to ensure that Milan are not just a force domestically but they also demonstrate it on big stages like the Champions League.
“If I could make a note to his Milan, I would like them to not stretch and not be confusing at times. Here, at that moment, when they lose their distance, the players wander around the field and then it becomes difficult, if not impossible, even to practice
“It is a detail that Pioli will already be working on, because I know that he leaves nothing to chance and works day and night to overcome problems. I repeat: I like Milan because they have a style of play, something that is rarely seen in Italy.”