AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali has admitted that he struggled during his first season at the club but thanked Stefano Pioli and others at the club for helping him realise his potential.
Tonali’s first season did not exactly go to plan from a performance point of view as he struggled to adapt to the double pivot and to a team with lots of quality in the midfield plus loftier expectations. However, his loan was made permanent, and fast forwarding to now he is one of the first names on the team sheet having become a leader of the midfield department.
Tonali was interviewed by Repubblica ahead of Sunday’s huge game against rivals Juventus, and in the second part (read the first part here) the Rossoneri midfielder spoke about how coach Pioli improved him.
“I missed the 1% that made me stay in the group. He [Pioli] hammered me at work, I have to admit it, I had a difficult year and we acted as if it hadn’t happened. Staying tough is not just a feature of mine, it’s a necessary skill in football. Without determination, without desire for redemption, you cannot break through,” he said (via MilanNews).
Tonali then explained the excitement of finding himself in the same dressing room with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was a big part of the team’s Scudetto winning 2010-11 season, which Tonali watched as a 10-year-old.
“Very strong: in an instant you go from fan to team-mate, two completely different things, you risk losing focus. I succeeded after the first month.”
After the defeat against Spezia, Milan now have two very important matches against Juventus and Inter.
“Inside every match there is always another, we saw it on Monday. With Juve it will be different: the defeat against Spezia does not change our approach, made up of strength and clarity. Even if we don’t want to say it, we know that the next two games are fundamental.”
The young Rossoneri midfielder then spoke about his improvements this season.
“If the Champions League has to do with my improvements? A lot. You find yourself for the next matches. The difficult thing is to keep it for the whole season.”