Vincenzo Montella is confident ‘the new owners have the desire, the resources and the intention to take Milan back to its natural habitat’, and insists his focus is on Saturday’s Derby della Madonnina.
April 13, 2017 is an historic day for Milan as today Silvio Berlusconi officially sold his entire stack to the Chinese, leaving the Rossoneri after 31 years & 29 trophies.
The last of those trophies was won in last December when Vincenzo Montella’s Milan beat Juventus in Doha for the Supercoppa Italiana. Now the era of the Chinese begins, and it starts with a Derby match on Saturday (12:30 CET kickoff!) against Inter.
“If you’ll allow me, I’d like to start myself this time,” Montella told journalists at Milanello on Thursday afternoon at the start of the pre-match press conference. “I’m very emotional, today is an epochal day. I was informed of this change of ownership by Mr. Galliani and Mr. Fassone. I want to thank Galliani and Mr. Berlusconi for the opportunity to coach Milan. I think I’ve got a small part of Milan history, along with the players, with the trophy [the Supercoppa] we won.
“I think that in recent months my work has been separating what happens on the pitch with the things off it and I believe that we succeeded in that. In the coming days I’ll definitely meet the new ownership and together I’m sure we can find solutions to make Milan as glorious as in the past. I’d really liked to talk about the derby, I don’t want to spend more energy on this epochal transition.
“How to keep the team away from the club’s issues? If I had to choose the best timing for the change of ownership then I would’ve chosen it to be before the derby or a match against Juventus. I’m convinced that on Saturday the boys will further demonstrate their seriousness.
“What I expect for the future? The sale was yet another act of love from Prime Minister Berlusconi. I’m sure the new owners have the desire, the resources and the intention to take Milan back to its natural habitat. If I’m open to staying? Yes, I’m happy here, but marriages are between two.
“Now we’re missing a little to know. It’s not my priority though, my priority is the derby. It’s simple, I have a contract with Milan and I’m happy to coach Milan. There will be rumours in this period of transition. But I need to talk with the people, it’s that simple. Will I still be here in July? I don’t want to answer, even curiosity must be set aside right now. But I think you’ll know soon.
“If I’ve learned Chinese? Not yet [smiles]. My relationship with Berlusconi? Among the many phone calls with Berlusconi I’ve always felt great respect and great incentive to improve and I’ve always accepted [what he said]. He’s been very emotionally involved in this sale and in politics.
“I’d have liked to have known him better. I think the President esteems and respects me, the same goes the other way and to that I’d also add admiration for what he’s done for Milan. If I would’ve preferred going through the season with a ‘closing’? I think it was a valuable experience.
“The derby? We’re facing a team with great players. The match will be played emotionally, we can’t approach it with fear, we need to play freely and to win, to put Inter further away from us. It’ll definitely be very similar to the first match, the quality and the atmosphere will be at a high level.
“A win for Europe? A win would increase the percentage chances for us, if definitely wouldn’t secure qualification but it would put us in a good position. The XI? I have a draft but the many is in two days so I haven’t decided yet. There are variables to be evaluated day by day.
“Inter have very technical and fast players with skills in one against one, especially on the wings with Candreva and Perisic, when the winger doesn’t play with the inverted foot usually there’s a cross. Their fullbacks push up very well. Icardi? He’s a very strong player, I think he’s learning this year to be participate in the game more. Gagliardini? Watching Inter, they’ve found a rhythm with Gagliardini.
“Roberto has great physicality and he’s very skilled in his insertions. Deulofeu and Bonaventura? With Gerard we have something more in the one on one. The absence of Pasalic? He’s a player who’s growing a lot. I don’t like talking about those absent, I like to talk about those who will be in the game. If we’re favourites after Inter’s defeat at Crotone? No, the derby resets everything.
“I don’t think a possible defeat would cut Inter off, nor would it for us. It’s all recoverable, and Inter have a lot of head-to-head matches. I think we’ll need to be a more of a team than in other matches, a team that is ready tactically and technically. What the first-round match taught us [Milan conceded in the very last moment of the game]? That we’ve to be attentive for 95 minutes. We’re a bit missing those two points that we could’ve taken home but congrats to Inter who believed until the end.
“It will be a great spectacle and it will be seen by nearly a billion people around the world. The fans? I expect a good luck to the new owners [from the fans] and support for the new management. The support of our fans is always a boost for us and I’m sure it’ll be the same on Saturday.”
Montella has one more training session tomorrow to make up his mind. His doubts are regarding Alessio Romagnoli’s partner in defense and the third midfielder with Kucka and Jose Sosa.