Gennaro Gattuso talked more about the defeat to Inter and answered to those who say his job is at risk, as he prepares for Thursday’s Europa League game.
The Italian media wasted little time after the Rossoneri’s 1-0 defeat in the Derby della Madonnina, claiming that the relationship between coach Gennaro Gattuso and Leonardo is ‘frosty’ and that the Brazilian is considering to sack Rino and replace him with Roberto Donadoni.
But Gattuso is still here and tomorrow at Stadio San Siro at 18:55 CEST his team will play Real Betis for three important points, which will be crucial for finishing first in Group F of the Europa League.
“Real Betis move the ball around playing a possession game, they had 65% possession against Atlético Madrid,” Gattuso said. “They don’t score that much because they don’t verticalize a lot, still, they are a quality team. Betis play three at the back but while defending it becomes a 5-man defense. It won’t be an easy game, it’s a tricky one, and this is a team that makes you run and chase.
“The defeat in the derby? We need to start again, although the bitterness remains. I repeat what I said in the press conference after the game: we didn’t prepare to play for a draw. In terms of character I liked our team a lot, where we were lacking was our strong point, the use of the ball. We didn’t spend all that time preparing the match to draw it. I need to be good and balanced in evaluating the team, we can’t throw away all the good work we’ve done up to now.
“The proximity of the squad to me? The players have to give their best for the shirt, they don’t have to be close to me. I have to think about putting the team in the best conditions to express themselves well. Some agents are breaking my balls… but if someone speaks ill of me then it doesn’t change my life. I’m a young coach with ups-and-downs and I’ll keep doing my work. The daily work gives me strength, I’m happy when the games are won, not when the players speak well of me.
“Regrets over the points lost? We know that we’ve lost some points on the way and we shouldn’t run after bad luck. We need to be more attentive, more concentrated and make fewer mistakes. If we look at the goals conceded we need to improve, it was not just Donnarumma’s fault in the derby.
“We need to improve on that, we need to improve at Milanello, there’s a lot of pressure on us. I’ve been here for almost a year and we’ve lost six league matches, but it seems as if we’ve lost them all… I hope that everyone continues to give the responsibilities to me, so they leave the players alone. I’m the coach, I’m responsible and I’ll take the criticism, but we have to make as few errors as possible.
“If the derby left something to reflect? We weren’t good at getting the ball to Higuaín, the plays we tried were unsuccessful. 30 per cent of that is Higuaín’s fault, 70 per cent is down to the team. It’s the fault of the whole collective, including me. It’s not the first time that we faced a strong team.
“I don’t make myself understood to the team, it’s my responsibility too… Inter didn’t create many chances, they were dangerous from set pieces, but overall we didn’t concede that much. I think after the first 10-15 minutes Higuaín got frustrated after two good runs where the ball didn’t reach him. When you make those kind of movements you want to be rewarded. We were struggling in the build-up, every time we went wide we couldn’t put in balls for Higuaín’s. We didn’t put him in a position where he could express himself to his full potential, and he got frustrated.
“We failed on the ball, we couldn’t build from the goalkeeper and when we don’t build from the back our play is a lot less effective, we can’t play the football we know we can. If the game had ended 0-0 there’d be a different judgement, but I don’t prepare matches to draw them. I’m not going to talk about pub discussions, we could have done more in possession, but I liked the team very much without the ball, it’s been months since I’ve seen such an attentive team in that regard.
“If I feel betrayed by the players? No, the games have certain dynamics and many times the emotion can deceive you but I don’t feel betrayed by my players. I’m proud to train a squad like this, and it offends me when I hear people say that the team wasn’t committed and played for the draw.
“I saw a team that couldn’t express itself on the ball, but I saw a character in the team that I hadn’t seen for a long time. When you’re playing for a 0-0 you go 4-5-1 and park the bus. Did you see lines of five and barricades? Then why did you say I played for a draw? You can say that Milan didn’t play well enough technically, but not that we played for a draw.
“Our physical form? The numbers are higher than last year. It didn’t seem to be that there was a physical problem [in the derby]. The team was not able to express the football that they’re accustomed to play, we couldn’t build from the bottom and we had difficulties.
“How is Donnarumma these days? He is a growing goalkeeper and you all said it. I make the choices, I don’t take guidance from the fans, despite the respect I have for them. He had a bereavement in his family the day before yesterday, his grandmother passed away. I didn’t have the chance to talk to him yesterday, he just has to keep working professionally. Anyone who plays football can make mistakes.
“The new signings? If tomorrow the starters play then it’s not because I’m above the criticism. I can be wrong but there’s always logic and meaning. If tomorrow it comes down to it then it’s because I chose it. Right now Castillejo is not playing a lot but he did play. Laxalt has had some appearances, while Bakayoko has always played in Europe, Reina too. I’m very happy that they’ve arrived.
“At a tactical level they’ve had some difficulties and it takes some time to adapt to our tactics, but I’m happy and proud to have them with me. Caldara [who has recovered from his injury]? Mattia is training, he doesn’t have 90 minutes in his legs but he is training a lot. Until last week he had some pubis problems, tomorrow he can play some minutes but I don’t know if from the start.
“Rumours about getting replaced? I’m a coach, I know that when results don’t come I’ll be under scrutiny. I’ve been under worse pressure. Names are being made, there are always discussions with Leonardo and Maldini, I call it as I see it and so do they. There may be ups-and-downs, but we say things face-to-face. What happened between me and Leonardo happened many years ago, there’s great respect and we tell each other things with the respect which can never be lacking.
“We lost an important game [in the derby] and we lost against Napoli. But the team is alive, it has to be calm, I’m happy with all the players I have available.”