Gennaro Gattuso was pleased after the win against Chievo, the Rossoneri’s third victory in a row, and insisted ‘I have always seen the same Milan’.
Milan hosted 20th-place Chievo at Stadio San Siro on Sunday afternoon and the Rossoneri were looking to win the game so they can go on the international break with a smile on their face.
The Diavolo were in control from the first minute. Gattuso played Gonzalo Higuain between Suso and Hakan Çalhanoğlu and it took the Argentine 27 minutes to find the back of the net for the fifth consecutive game: the ball got to Suso after a very poor clearance attempt from Chievo defender Mattia Bani and the Spaniard passed it quickly to summer signing El Pipita who beat Stefano Sorrentino.
The Suso-Higuain connection continued and in the 34′ minute, Suso sent a great ball to Higuain and the striker found himself again in front of Sorrentino and made the most of it. Suso continued to be the star of the game and he completed a hat-trick of assists in the 55′ minute when he passed to Jack Bonaventura; Giacomo made a nice dribble and then saw his shot take a deflection and go in.
Milan were hoping to finally get a clean sheet, as they are the only side in Serie A to have failed to keep one this season, but a mistake from Cristian Zapata and Franck Kessié resulted in 39-year-old Sergio Pellissier scoring a goal against 19-year-old Gianluigi Donnarumma, and making it 3-1.
“Certainly the performances were not lacking, but there were no wins,” Gattuso said in an interview with Sky Italia at the end of the match. “The worst performance was on Thursday against Olympiacos. We made mistakes again today, gifting their goal, but this team has always played good football, it always wants to play the ball and today we are happier because we won.
“We weren’t in crisis before, but we couldn’t finish off games after good performances. At times we run a few too many risks at the back, but we do want to play the ball and keep it moving. We have to work well on the chains, the right chain is now working very well we have to improve on the left, as we were far stronger there last season. We’d like to give more width to the team, not just with Suso.
“When Suso takes the ball there’s always a triangle and Abate did well. Kessié played below par in the first half and wasn’t very dynamic today. Higuain? He is a Champion who can finish, he is a guy who has made himself available to the group, he is demanding but he makes himself loved.
“It’s a team that creates and has quality. We’ve been missing Çalhanoğlu who isn’t going through a sharp phase but he can create many goals for Higuain. Different formations [Gattuso tried 4-4-2 in the last minutes of the game]? I would like to change formations, my staff and I have the knowledge, we’re thinking about it but we have to evaluate many things. We have to work on a defensive level. I’m sorry to leave Cutrone out but we are proving we can also create a lot with the 4-3-3.
“My man management style? I just want players who understand me when I speak, who are paying attention. Not everyone has the same character, some need a pat on the back, others for you to raise your voice at them, and so you treat them all differently.
“The derby after the break? It’s an important match, there will be 80,000 fans in the stands. I’m proud when my players go to the national team, and it is right that they represent their countries. Now we’ll recover a bit of energy and then we’ll face a very strong Inter.”
Speaking to MilanTV, Gattuso, who before last week’s Sassuolo game was reportedly in danger of getting sacked, said: “The judgment are often changed when you win a game, with the three points we’re all beautiful, blond and with blue eyes. But also when we were drawing the team was there, it was alive, and we saw firsthand that we couldn’t manage the games at the best but we never gave up.
“Except with against Olympiacos, we’ve always played well, at least for the last two months. We have to and can improve the defensive phase, but if we create all these scoring chances then there’s a reason and it’s normal to concede something at the back. But I repeat, we can still improve.
“The game? This is how we prepared the match. We have always found the third man free to receive the ball, we played well vertically and moved the ball around fast: this was our secret today, we were in control all over the pitch and created many chances. Sorrentino pulled off some great saves. I want to congratulate the boys, they did well. This is a strong team but we still need to realize this.
“The defense? Today we had Zapata on the field and he wasn’t at his best. He played his second game in three days after months of physical problems. He has given us a lot but we asked him to give defensive coverage. We asked Biglia to play deeper to give Cristian a hand.
“The applause of San Siro for Biglia? I’m happy for Lucas, for the player he is and for the man he is. He doesn’t speak much but he makes everything clear with his eyes. He puts his heart out for Milan. He’s an added value to this team and I am pleased with his performance.
“Clean sheet in the derby? I’ll sign on it. But now I want to enjoy the break because only to think about facing Inter… let’s say that when I was playing I managed it better. We have to keep working, but we’re nice to watch and we have yet to understand the real strength of this team.”
Rino also held a post-match press conference: “If the real face of Milan will be seen at the end of October? Except for against Olympiacos I’ve always seen the same Milan. In football you’re judged for the points you have and it’s right like this. We’ve improved in the management of the games. When you bring 5-6 men forward to develop a move it’s not random, and something can be conceded on a defensive left. We have to improve on preventives and give less to the opponents.
“The goal conceded? You have to see how we concede the goals. We have been conceding for 13 consecutive games, it’s true. Romagnoli? We tried until the last minute to have him on the pitch because Zapata hadn’t played in four months and he had some problems after Thursday. The MRI of Romagnoli was negative but he didn’t feel right with the physiotherapist. He will go to the Italy national team, he will do check-ups and then we’ll see if he will stay there or not.
“The Suso-Higuain partnership? It takes time. The first few times it’s difficult and then the partnership improves. Çalhanoğlu? With the characteristics that Hakan has he can give us a hand and also put Higuain in a condition to score goals. I left him on the pitch hoping he would score; he did, but he was offside. Biglia? He seemed to have a magnet in his feet today, he played a great game.
“The waiting ahead of the derby? It doesn’t allow to work better but it’s also a problem for Inter, we have 12-13 players out. It must be a pride to have so many players going to the national team. The derby brings stress and tension but both we and Inter will have the same problem.”
After a busy period with games every three days, Gattuso and the players (minus those going to international duty) will have a chance to get some rest and then focus on the Derby della Madonnina.