Speaking in a press conference before the Serie A tie against Cagliari, coach Vincenzo Montella addressed the media on the game, players, the state of the club as well as Milan’s moves in the dying days of the summer transfer window.
“We have felt the great support from our fans at San Siro in the last two matches.” Montella began, with a jovial smile on his face, “I am happy about all this. I was actually expecting such fantastic support for our first home match of the competition.
“Even the President will join us. We mustn’t let enthusiasm become overwhelming. That could play against us. The team is working very well, focusing on one goal at a time.”
On Cagliari, who are sitting in 18th after Juventus’ 3-0 demolition, Montella had this to say: “They are a team who managed to trouble us the last season. We won and lost against them in the final minutes of the game. It will be a very complicated clash because they are well prepared from a tactical point of view and are very dangerous in attack. It will be a classic Serie A match.”
The talk then turned to Milan’s strike force.
“Kalinic is training with the squad. He is a little bit behind but we are working on accelerating his adaptation to our style of play. We are glad about Cutrone, the signing of Kalinic and André Silva’s potential.”
“Will he be in the squad list? I think so. I am not concerned with who plays first. Someone has to start from the bench and that gives me plenty of solutions, one of these is playing with two forwards.”
As for the defence, Montella simply said that the statistics in Milan’s defence ‘speak for themselves’.
“I am pleased, but we have to put them aside and continue to improve. The winning teams are those who find the right balance and strength, not the ones that are only able to defend properly. We have the players to go with a 3-man defence, but it will always depend on the players and the match.”
And finally, questions about the midfield were also fielded, with the medical status of new signing Lucas Biglia and the choice between veteran Riccardo Montolivo or Manuel Locatelli being the two topics at the forefront of questioning.
“Montolivo trained yesterday. I think he is fit. Biglia is getting better very fast. Let’s see. Locatelli is improving a lot, he proved it in Macedonia. Either Manuel or Riccardo, they can both play in the centre-mid. They are essential assets to us.”
As for wantaway striker M’Baye Niang, Montella said that he had a ‘very good relationship’ with the Frenchman, adding that he ‘hopes he heals soon because he is very sensitive’, before finally adding, “I’d like to maintain my positive rapport with him.”
The coach also touched on the unorthodox appointment of a new signing, Leonardo Bonucci, to be the captain.
“The club wanted it for one of the signings, to symbolise the start of the new era. After a couple of days, both, Montolivo and Abate, understood the decision and they have accepted it.”
Montella also responded to Gianluigi Donnarumma’s agent Mino Raiola’s statements that his client was due the captain’s armband.
“Sometimes we give too much importance to what others say. The club never instructed me to give the band to Gigio, nor promised it to the boy or his entourage. Maybe he has been told that in the future he will probably wear it, but that is a different story.”
Finally, Montella spoke on his growing pain of having too many players to coach, as well as the strides that the youth system has taken under new management.
“Numerically speaking, we are too many. I have decided not to include the boys who are expecting to leave the club. When you try to make specific drills during training, you cannot use every player in the squad. Once the transfer market is closed, I will not have any preferences and everyone will take part.
“There is a little bit of anxiety from everyone, but I’m hoping this will not become a distraction. The match against Cagliari is all that matters at the moment.”
The Youth Academy is important to us towards building our team, even from an economic point of view. I hope things continue in this same direction.”