Tassotti gives thoughts on Leao, Calabria, Pioli’s Milan and derby struggles

By Oliver Fisher -

Mauro Tassotti believes that AC Milan are continuing to make strides with Stefano Pioli at the helm, however they must have a different attitude in the derbies.

Tassotti made his Serie A debut with Lazio but he went on to play with Milan for 17 years and won 17 major trophies with the Rossoneri, playing as a right-back in several legendary defences.

He won five Scudetti and three UEFA Champions League titles, reaching five finals in total playing alongside the likes of Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi, Alessandro Costacurta, Filippo Galli and Christian Panucci.

He worked with managers like Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello who revolutionised not only Milan but also Italian football, and tonight the two teams of his heart do battle at San Siro.

Tassotti gave an interview to this morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport in the build-up for tonight’s game between Milan and Lazio, with his comments translated below.

How is work for you?

“I terminated the contract with Genoa. It was a useful experience, great city, good environment. I got into the running with Sheva. It wasn’t easy, I feel sorry for him, in his first experience as a coach in Italy…”

With Ukraine, however, you did five years. Memories?

“Beautiful, with a lot of satisfaction. We reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship. Everything was beautiful, from the city to the people. Now it’s terrible, it’s madness, a scary war. I’m sad, because I left friends and respectable people there. these things cannot happen in the 2000s.”

There you were Sheva’s deputy. First you were assistant to Ancelotti, then Leonardo, Allegri, Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi. Have you never thought about being a head coach yourself?

“But no. It went like this, it was a consequence of my work. I was in the Primavera, Carlo called me to replace Ciaschini. I came in and never left. And I must say that I got on well with everyone.”

Except Allegri…

“I didn’t know him. I immediately tuned in to his ideas, a quick and fast coach. He was involved, or allowed himself to be drawn into, in an absurd debate on ‘players’ and ‘resultsists’.

“Massimiliano is very good, he understands the football, and he has an ultra-attacking mentality. Guys, it’s not easy to win with Milan and Juve. He did it.”

Milan won in Cagliari…

“Milan have been playing well for years. I like Pioli a lot, the team is pleasant and brilliant, they do the most beautiful and interesting things. They are growing, undergoing transformation, they have signed quality guys.”

Adli is also forging some space, is that a surprise?

“No. I read his declarations of love. He must be a very big Milan fan. Everyone likes these things, the club, his team-mates, the people. Eh, it’s not easy to talk like that when you’re not playing. He has personality, he’s a good boy. All together they will also increase their international profile.”

Leao already has it. Would you have trouble stopping him?

“Everyone is struggling. He’s a champion, even if his body language, those sluggish movements, can sometimes irritate. He’s a cheerful, beautiful player. He’s not afraid of making mistakes, he doesn’t have a short arm like Milan when they meet Inter.”

In what sense?

“They have lost many derbies and now they have performance anxiety. They are affected by Nerazzurri syndrome. But only against Inter. They don’t think about it with the other big teams.”

Speaking of greats, today it’s Milan against Lazio…

“I think they will have fun. Lazio will recover. The fans should be happy: they have a team that makes the Champions League with excellent players.”

You have said that Calabria is also very strong, do you still think this?

“Of course, when he’s well he moves at a very high level. He’s complete, he understands the game, he interprets positions well. I don’t understand why he’s not in the national team. He deserves to be in.”

What are your biggest memories and moments?

“I lived a lot, I stopped at 37. I won three European Cups on the pitch and two on the bench as Ancelotti’s assistant. Perhaps one of the most exciting moments was when we returned from Como, in 1988, after the Scudetto and in the evening we entered San Siro, where our fans were waiting for us. Beautiful, wonderful.”

There was Sacchi in black glasses. Do you still speak to him?

“Of course, he’s our Arrigo. I read a book by Ancelotti where he says that the first time he saw him he seemed like a wild madman, a crazy person. Some time later he understood that he was instead a genius. I agree.”

Tags AC Milan Mauro Tassotti

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