Gennaro Gattuso said ‘the interpretation of the game of several players was embarrassing and the biggest fault is my own’ after suffering a humiliating defeat to Benevento at Stadio San Siro.
Gattuso’s debut match as the coach of Milan made the history books as Benevento drew in the last second of the match through keeper Alberto Brignoli to win their first-ever Serie A point.
Last night (Saturday) at Stadio San Siro, Milan and Rino hosted Benevento with the hope of finally winning again. However, the Rossoneri ended up in the history books for all the wrong reasons again, as Pietro Iemmello’s 29′-minute strike gave the soon-to-be-officially-relegated side their first ever away win in this league and their first ever away clean sheet.
The boys of Gattuso were truly awful and pathetic to watch, playing predictable and embarrassing football. When they did get chances in front of goal, they were wasteful and inaccurate. Milan have now not won in 6 games in a row and already today can be surpassed by Atalanta.
“The team is in great involution,” Gattuso told Premium Sport at the end of the match. “When you play without a soul, you do these blunders. I’m the first man responsible, but when we analyze the game later, the alibis will fall apart. When you play against a team like Benevento, who do play good football even if they are bottom of the table, you can’t play with no determination or soul.
“It doesn’t matter if we play with two, three or four strikers, because we don’t have the psychological strength or the vehemence to do anything. The team creates but doesn’t have the mental will to hurt opponents. We basically tickle the opposition, we don’t hurt them. This is our problem.
“We have to apologize to the fans, because we wear a prestigious jersey and we can’t have embarrassing nights like this. I’m the first one responsible. Our involution? You could tell we just interpreted the moves completely wrong. Cutrone went wide, because we couldn’t find spaces.
“During the week there are good signals in training, but then the moment the first obstacle arrives in a match situation, we can’t react. We are empty. I can’t come here and say things that aren’t true. It’s obvious we are struggling. We don’t even need the opponents to do anything extraordinary to beat us.
“We go in late, sluggish, withdrawn. That is our problem. We can’t say there is no motivation, because we are still in the fight for a Europa League place and besides all of that, we are Milan, we always have to play to win. The problem is not goals, we cannot afford to suffer a defeat like this. Almost the whole team doesn’t play with calmness, you can see the team isn’t calm, focused or confident.
“Our goal-scoring problem [Milan scored 3 in the last 6 games]? We do movements that are not done in the best of ways. The two strikers didn’t move well and then there’s little presence in the penalty area. Many of these players are young and they feel the tension when they don’t score goals.
“The work that needs to be done? There’s a decline. We used up a lot of energy this season to climb back up the table. We’re missing a player like Çalhanoğlu, who has unique characteristics, and on Saturday Suso didn’t train because of a fever. I expected to see a team trained by me to show soul.
“I can’t just talk about determination, because we gave the impression we were just sitting there on the pitch and doing the bare minimum. We look like we’re not a team and that is what worries me the most. I feel really let down. Benevento are playing well at the moment, I warned my players that we’d have difficulties, so there’s no point feeling sad now, they should’ve thought of that earlier.
“It is our duty to improve immediately to achieve our objectives. We didn’t see any of that desire or sense of belonging that we’ve seen in recent months.”
Speaking to Sky, Gattuso said: “To play football, it’s not enough to know how to play technically, when the soul is lacking, when the desire is lacking… After the match with Napoli [which ended in a 0-0 draw thanks to a huge Donnarumma save] everyone complimented us, [but] there’s great involution, we do things halfway. You cannot create and then make so many wrong movements. The problem is not one or two strikers, we must find ourselves, find the desire to be on the field. I’m the most responsible one. I don’t see the signs during the week, the team is always committed. Then I see the wrong interpretations and I have to ask myself a question and give myself an answer.
“Physical intensity is lacking and it’s a fact. I was very worried of Benevento, they’re a cheeky team that know how to do what they do. Now it’s easy to take responsibility, but for some time now we have had to understand what we are. We have to play with great attention to technical and tactical aspects and we cannot interpret each match on its own. It’s too easy to come here and say we’re tired.
“What didn’t go right? I know that the moment of the strikers is difficult. And then we don’t have Çalhanoğlu [who is injured] and there’s no other player to replace him, and we’re also missing a player who can replace Suso. It’s the application that I don’t like, we made movements that we never tried. We have to work on this, we have many young people who feel pressure because they can’t score. It’s not a coincidence that we have so many shots on goal but can’t score.
“We didn’t pressure? With the 4-4-2, we didn’t impose pressure, the biggest responsibility is mine, we have to be objective and honest. The decision to play two strikers was mine and we knew it. I know what’s going wrong. When you don’t do well but play with organization you can make up for the gaps.
“What to do now? We have to be able to look at our faces and understand what the problem is. The problem is how things are done and how they are interpreted, we need to understand what we’ve done. It’s not enough to know how to play football. I want great application.
“What I feel? I feel very bitter, I’m ashamed. I’ve been sniffing the danger for days, I was quite clear. It was a difficult match and against Benevento, if you don’t do things well, they put you in difficulty.”
In his MilanTV interview, the 40-year-old said: “Such a performance is unacceptable. I already had a strange feeling in the past days. We faced a team with nothing to lose, which for a month has been playing football that can put you in difficulty. We are a team whose soul is missing. Now it’s easy to have a sad face, but it was known that if you don’t play with the desire then you lose.
“I’m the first one responsible, but when the team doesn’t want, it’s not enough to hold the ball or the 21 shots. We must think of being a team. There’s great concern because I saw movements that we never tried. We have to change this attitude. This match was easy to read, we knew their characteristics, we knew we had to play them with great desire, respect and vehemence. It’s not a matter of tiredness, with a bit of organization we could have overcome this. This is why I take full responsibility, maybe I didn’t make myself clear and this, for a coach, is very bad.
“Cutrone’s position? We played for 35 minutes with two strikers in Silva and Cutrone and then we sent Cutrone wide to the left. But when we play with two strikers, they have to stay as close as possible. However, they were either running away from each other or they were running into each other.
“What I have to say to the team? This defeat is not just a loss but will go down in Milan’s history. This is a burning defeat because Milan is a historic and prestigious club. We wear a historic shirt. Someone has to be responsible for this, and this is me. We are a glorious club and we made a bad impression.
“We will stay together, look at other and take our responsibilities. I think that at the moment we mustn’t forget what the boys accomplished. This is a team that gives everything. On Saturday we did a good performance, but without heart, without anything… this is the thing that bothered me the most. Quality made us win earlier but the team never gave up until now, they had always fought with great dedication. On Saturday it looked like we were really bad, we didn’t have the right head.”
Gattuso also spoke to journalists in a post-match presser: “For three days I felt a strange small, and it was there from when we started preparing for this game. On Friday I was very worried. For 35 minutes, we didn’t understand anything, and the responsibility is mine.
“We gave the impression of tickling the opponents. The interpretation of the game of several players was embarrassing and the biggest fault is my own. If we are touching the bottom of the gas barrel, then we must play by giving everything. It’s a team that always trains well, but then we get to the game and I mean it when I say that the interpretation is different from what we prepare.
“We take our responsibilities and we are together. We must respect our opponents and have poison in our eyes. We must be available and do things as they should be done. I don’t care about what was good until a few weeks ago. I don’t like to make such embarrassments with a team that I feel is mine.
“If we dropped in attention because the Champions League dream vanished? It would be easy to say so, but it’s not like that. My players also know that it will start being difficult to go to the Europa League if we don’t wake up. I told my players that we wear a glorious shirt and I feel a crazy shame. If the most important match is the one with Juventus? No, the most important one is against Bologna.
“The remedy? We developed so many times and finished with 21 shots. The problem is how we attack the goal, I can’t see my strikers who try to do acrobatics 4-5 times and end up making a foul. André Silva was offside twice, and it was easy to read it. The strikers are young, and they can have these moments, we have to regroup and have the desire to sacrifice ourselves that we had before.
“4-4-2? On Friday Suso had a fever, I knew that wasn’t in a good condition, he didn’t even have to sit on the bench, but he gave us a great availability. I thought that with two strikers we can fill the area more. Are you now convinced that with 4-4-2 we give the opponents more of the field?”
There are five matches to go to the end of the season: Bologna (A), Hellas Verona (H), Juventus (Coppa final), Atalanta (A), Fiorentina (H). Milan must wake up to salvage anything from a dreadful season.