Vincenzo Montella has said that ‘we have to understand why we took the field this way’ after yet another embarrassing defeat away from home.
If the 4-1 defeat to Lazio was a ‘slap in the face’ then Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Sampdoria was a punch in the gut: Milan were simply outclassed in every single aspect from the first to the last minute, finishing the lunch-time game with no shots on target.
Before the match, Montella said that this match is like the one against Lazio in terms of difficulty, but his Milan were even worse this time, losing possession again and again, and creating nothing, mostly trying to send the ball up front to Nikola Kalinić, who didn’t do much.
In the 72′ minute, Milan paid for their mistakes as Cristian Zapata somehow decided the right thing to do was to head the ball to his cousin, Duván, who scored from close range. In the 90′ minute, ex-Inter man Ricky Álvarez entered the pitch and 30 seconds later he took advantage of another Rossoneri mistake, making it 2-0. The Diavolo had no answers and looked lost all throughout the match.
“We were insufficient in competitiveness and it’s a defeat which also hurts for how it was happened. In the second half, we grew a bit but we were never really in the game on the technical level,” Montella told Sky Italia after the final whistle of Paolo Valeri at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on Sunday.
“What happened? I don’t know how to explain. We must grow, playing every three years. We are the youngest team in Serie A and it takes patience. We paid a bit for all of that, but we are all guilty. We need to improve our attitude and have our determination be at least equal to the opponents.
“Today Sampdoria were superior both technically and in determination. We are not happy about this defeat, but I’m confident and have a lot of energy to transmit. Today’s performance was insufficient. It’s important to understand the possible causes. We have a young team.
“You need to have balance in judgments and be very rational, without putting our head in the stand, but to understand from where certain things came. The opponents? If we have to lose than it’s better against Sampdoria than someone else since it’s a city and these are fans that I have in my heart.
“But our growth must be accelerated and it doesn’t depend on the opponents. Roma [who Milan face next Sunday at Stadio San Siro – 18:00 CET kickoff]? We hope to have an opposite performance.”
Speaking to Premium Sport, Montella said: “We didn’t like the performance. We were insufficient both in determination and quality. In the first half, we were still in the game even if Sampdoria had several chances. They did better than us. We didn’t have mental clarity and we have to figure out why.
“It’s a failure for everyone. Nobody put in a good performance today. We are still a work in progress, we’ve got a lot of talent in the side, so more work is needed going forward. This is not a project that can be written off already. What disappointed me? The performance, which must be analyzed.
“We were below standards in all aspects. We were psychologically running on empty and I was wrong not to understand it. Perhaps for some the third game in seven days was a problem, but we need to analyze the situation. We have to understand why we took the field this way.
“Zapata over Musacchio? I chose Cristian because he was physically more suited to defending against Duvan Zapata [his cousin, to whom he gave an ‘assist’ in the first Sampdoria goal].”
The 43-year-old also had to talk in a press conference: “Two defeats in three away games are many. There was a blackout at the start due to a lack of mental energies for a game of this level. Sampdoria were superior and deserved the win. I would’ve liked to win it and it’s a defeat that hurts. A possible reading [of the situation] is that we are the youngest team in the league so we have highs and lows…
“The system penalizes Suso’s characteristics [the Spaniard has not looked comfortable as a trequartista in a 3-5-1-1]? I would say no… His substitution? I changed my strategy by playing two strikers up front. It was a tactical choice more than a technical one. Kessié? When one is young there are highs and lows. When you play every three days there could be a loss of mental energy.
“The defensive play [Milan have conceded 8 goals in the first 6 games]? If we exclude today’s game then we are the team that faced the least shots on goal in Serie A. The goals today were both born from two of our own mistakes. It’s a strong point and must remain so. Bonucci? If you lose then you’re always wrong. If you play four at the back and lose then you’re wrong and vice-versa.”
Milan will try to put this awful performance behind them when they face Croatian champions HNK Rijeka at Stadio San Siro (at 21:05 CET) in the second matchday of the Europa League group stage.