Gennaro Gattuso said ‘I am very worried, disappointed and angry, especially with myself’ and claimed ‘it is difficult for a coach to sleep after a game like that’, as Milan lost 2-1 to Real Betis.
After the defensive performance and defeat in the Derby della Madonnina, Milan fans were hoping to see a different Rossoneri on Thursday night as they hosted Real Betis at Stadio San Siro.
And indeed it was a different Milan – a worse one. Gattuso made six changes compared to the line-up that played against Inter and the bench players showed exactly why their place is on the bench.
The Diavolo were second best at everything for the entire match, with the exception of the last 10 minutes of the encounter. Real Betis were dominant, running the show and creating the chances at San Siro. Milan were embarrassing to watch and played their worst game of the season.
Antonio Sanabria took advantage of comical defending from Cristian Zapata and Pepe Reina to give Betis the lead in the 30′ minute. Betis came close to scoring a few more times in the first half but had a goal wrongly disallowed for offside and so they had to wait until the 55′ minute to double their lead; they did it through a beautiful Giovani Lo Celso hit, which was assisted by Romganoli.
Gattuso made two substitutions on half time, taking off the truly horrendous Fabio Borini and Tiémoué Bakayoko and bringing on Suso and Patrick Cutrone. The two struggled to make an impact as Milan were overall poor in everything they did, but in the 82′ minute Cutrone found the back of the net thanks to a Castillejo assist. Samu was also fouled in the penalty box in stoppage time but Dutch referee Bas Nijhuis didn’t think it was a penalty and didn’t give Milan a chance to get an undeserving draw. A frustrated Castillejo then committed a bad foul and got a straight red card.
“What happened? What happened is that we lost our way completely,” Gattuso said in an interview with Sky Italia at the end of the match. “It was a game of suffering. We lost our confidence. This team doesn’t play with a clear head, it can’t do what it wants to, and only shrugged off the tension in the final minutes. Real Betis have not stolen anything, I won’t talk about the penalty incident, because they did dominate the game. It’s our mentality and fragility that worries me.
“We are not good where we made the difference. We aren’t playing with any kind of fluidity, can’t move the ball around. We have to talk to the players and find out what the problems are. There could even be a tactical issue. It doesn’t even look like the same team we saw a couple of weeks ago.
“What to do? We must find out the right solution to improve. We made a lot of changes on Thursday, also the formations. It’s not a question of the formation but of fear, it’s above all a psychological problem, as we can’t seem to react. We don’t control the tempo or the game. We couldn’t create anything with the ball at our feet, we’re not doing things with great fluidity and it’s not good.
“We saw practically nothing from the midfielders pushing up and too often we passed it backwards rather than forwards. We are frantic, we are not calm, and we are not behaving well defensively. The team isn’t working, I am the first to take responsibility for that. I must find the best solution.
“The performance against Inter wasn’t a total disaster, but of course it’s difficult for a coach to sleep after a game like that. It was one of our worst performances, we looked like the side that lost in Verona and drew with Benevento. We cannot play like this and I am responsible. In my mind there is so much worry and disappointment. I cannot accept a performance like that.
“The voices and criticisms? It’s only right that I am criticized and put up for debate. I am training a glorious club, I make the decisions and the consequences are mine. It mustn’t be a problem for the players, but a problem for me. Maybe it will seem like falsehoods but I assure you that I liked the mentality and the desire that I saw at Milanello these days, but on Thursday we didn’t manage to put it on the pitch. We committed mistakes, we are undergoing something and we’re paying for it. We have to go back to being what we were before, otherwise it’ll be hard.
“Higuain? The problem is not Gonzalo, it’s the team that is having a hard time to shoot. Some solutions must be found to do something different.”
Speaking in the post-match press conference, Rino said: “How much the defeat hurts? The defeat doesn’t hurt, what hurts is the performance and how we played, how we were on the pitch. For a coach it’s difficult to go home tonight and think about the game. This is what I’m worried about, and it’s not an excuse for the derby, but the fragility and the mentality. It’s not a question of changing formations. I see a fragile, frightened team that has lost the certainties it had until 25 days ago.
“We have to understand why the light went out suddenly. If I saw something positive in regards to wickedness and mentality against Inter then on Thursday I saw a team in difficulty in all aspects. Both I, who is the first one responsible, and the team, made a bad impression.
“My position [Gattuso is not at risk at the moment]? Do you think that I’m thinking now about the bench and my ass? I’m thinking, if I’ll be given to chance, about how to solve this problem. I am the first person responsible for this situation and, as I said on Wednesday, I’m tied to the results. We did a non-Milan performance. Whatever happens [with my future] there will be no problems.
“If it’s an irreversible situation? It seemed like a merry-go-round: we played with three at the back, then four at the back, we tried playing with Castillejo as a striker… it’s not a question of formations, it’s a team that has lost its identity. In these two games I didn’t see the side midfielders running inside. We are doing wrong what we did well and what has distinguished us in recent months. It’s a performance that left me perplexed, on my part and that of my staff there is great disappointment. Probably my staff and I were not clear enough, otherwise we cannot explain this performance:
“Higuain is frustrated [the attacker barely got any balls and was not involved at all]? Certainly he’s not going through his best moment of form but he’s subject to the involution of the whole team, he is paying for it and lately he does not receive many balls, we started to serve crosses only in the last 10-15 minutes. We must put him in a position to make him work more in the last 16 meters.
“Cutrone was pressing the entire field alone? At the moment you can see the difficulty first-hand. We can also make comparisons to Castillejo and Laxalt who after the goal were unlocked. We think too much about what can happen. There is a far of making mistakes and not taking responsibility. Many times we forget that the mentality is an important component, it’s not a physical matter.
“Before the game I gave compliments for the atmosphere in the dressing room, and it’s totally different from the one that reigns outside of Milanello’s gates. One can take me for a crazy man if I say things like this after a match like that, but that’s what I saw during the week.
“I’m very worried, disappointed and angry, especially with myself. If the players must take greater responsibility? I take responsibility. I have to be good at understanding who has the right mentality, the commitment is never lacking. In some moments we applied nothing which we had prepared.”
Milan’s next game is against Sampdoria on Sunday at 18:00 CET. Another defeat could make the upper management of the Rossoneri to really consider a change as things are looking bad right now.