MASSIMILIANO ALLEGRI talks the option of playing Monty behind the forwards, praises Matri and welcomes Kaka.
Milan have three games under the belt in the 2013/2014 season but Massimiliano Allegri believes that the new season begins tomorrow in Week 2 of the Serie A against Cagliari at San Siro as Milan will seek first points after losing to Verona.
Milan qualified to the Champions League and have already made two moves in the market since Wednesday – signing both Ale Matri (€11m over 4 years) and Valter Birsa (exchange with Luca Antonini) and Allegri won’t rule out more signings.
“Verona came in the middle of two games that gave some sense to last season. If we hadn’t won against PSV, we’d be in the Europa League. We played badly last Sunday. The players know this and from tomorrow, we start anew,” Allegri told the press today. “There are many teams that are equipped for the top spots and we’ll have to do well to maintain our place.
“We have to win tomorrow as we’re playing at home. We didn’t concede on Wednesday as the whole team defended differently to what they did on Sunday. The new season starts tomorrow. We didn’t do well in Verona after the first 15 minutes. Cagliari have good technical players and good individuals. [Cagliari coach Luis Diego] Lopez is an ex-player of mine and he is a good coach. It’ll be a tough game as we played hard on Wednesday against PSV Eindhoven. We’ll have to be ready.
“The line-ups? I don’t think that De Sciglio start. His knee problem has come up again and we’ll have to be careful not to take risks. Emanuelson and Constant are ready. If Riccardo Montolivo plays as trequartista then De Jong will pull back and Antonio Nocerino, Andrea Poli and Muntari will play for the other two positions. Poli has always done well when he come on.
“This squad? We have good players in the middle and we needed another forward. Going into this period with only Mario Balotelli would have been risky. This squad is giving me satisfaction. They know their limits and that’s a sign of maturity. We‘ll have to give something extra to hit our targets and we can’t make the mistake of being presumptuous. Our strength last season was in our balance especially when results went against us. We should try to avoid too many highs and lows.
“Matri? First I’d like to say best of luck to Kevin-Prince Boateng, he said goodbye with two great goals which gave us the Champions League, Matri is a player I know well who comes from the Milan youth academy. As I’ve said before, we’ve lost Pazzini and he was a huge player for us last year. Matri’s a great buy, a great player and a great professional. Boateng? He was the variation of the team. He could play inside or out wide. We had a non-typical 4-3-3 formation with Boateng.
“New center backs? We’ve looked at this. Since January we’ve only conceded 12 goals. Our starting centre backs (Philippe Mexes and Cristian Zapata) are among the best in the league but even the best in the world will let in goals if they’re exposed. There aren’t many players better than those we have around at the moment, unless you go and get Thiago Silva.
“Kaka? He’d make the team stronger through his talent and his personality. He’s in good shape and it’s always great to have such players at your disposal. It would be great for the fans so we’ll have to wait and see. Both President Silvio Berlusconi and Adriano Galliani have every intention of keeping Milan at the top level despite the economic difficulties involved.
“Yesterday it looked like Keisuke Honda would be coming then CSKA Moscow said no. Now there’s the possibility of seeing Kakà and the club is working on it. We have Robinho and Montolivo in the trequartista position as well as Saponara. If Kakà comes, that’s great and if he doesn’t we’ll do well with the players we have. Petagna is a teenager and he needs to play. He can do that with Sampdoria. I think we put a bit too much pressure on certain players who could still be with the Primavera side. Timing is important and they’ll be in the Youth Champions League this season which will be good for them.
“At the end of the year, certain players will be more ready. My rapport with Berlusconi? We talk. We discuss everything. I stayed at Milan as I had to bring to an end the season and I didn’t want to leave it halfway done. I’m happy I stayed. I’ve never asked the club for a renewal (it expires in 2014) and it’s something that will wait until the end of the season.”
Allegri confirmed in the presser that Abbiati, Mexes, Zapata and Abate are the sure starters as well as Montolivo, De Jong and Balotelli but he still has to decide who will play alongside Balo (El Shaa or Binho) and in the left flank of the defense.