Gennaro Gattuso said he expects a physical game against Udinese, talked about the condition of the many injured players and confirmed he was the one who wanted to keep Bertolacci.
Milan are coming off back to back wins in Serie A as they defeated Sampdoria 3-2 and Genoa 2-1 last week, but tomorrow they have a difficult away game at Stadio Friuli when they play Udinese (20:30 CET).
The Rossoneri are currently in 4th place but the standings is very close and the boys of Gattuso will have to win tomorrow to stay in the Champions League area.
“I also felt the difficulty when I played at this tough stadium. I’ve always struggled there and tomorrow it will be the same,” Gattuso said in the pre-match press conference at training center Milanello on Saturday. “We are missing a few important players but we’ve got to put the alibi of injuries away and play a real game against a team that will come to attack us.
“They have a lot of physicality, they will play an aggressive match tomorrow, and we will need to play bravely. We’ll have to stay on point without making mistakes, we’ll have to get ourselves ready. My choices? I don’t have great choice for tomorrow, we have to combine quality and quantity, and we’ll also be needing to have duels, win back a few second balls and win 1v1’s. Udinese are one of the most physically-strong teams in Serie A, we have to make as little mistakes as possible. We must do two kinds of games: when we have the ball and when we don’t have it.
“The moment of the team? We have lost a few players [to injuries], we have to be ready and play as a team. We put a lot of effort into getting to the Champions League zone, and now I hope that we can stay in it. The team has always trained well, we’re coming off two wins, which have helped us to work calmly; it’s not time to smile but instead to strike the iron and get ready.
“Everyone is waiting for us, I want to see growth, and I want to see a team that is on point, that doesn’t give up a thing. Udinese can cause us a lot of problems and we still have some fatigue. It wasn’t a great pre-game [preparation], we had some hits and in some moments there was too much serenity, some players have not yet recovered mentally, we need a different attitude.
“I hope to see more determination and hunger tomorrow. The personality of the team? When you manage to achieve results, winning 3-4 games in a row, it increases your confidence and personality. This team wants to do things, to sacrifice, the two games against the Genovesi sides were of great sacrifice. Sampdoria put us in great difficulty while against Genoa we could’ve done better after the 1-0. We are scared, we have to improve because we risk losing the games.
“There can be an error but we must not be afraid. The injuries? On Wednesday Çalhanoğlu grit his teeth to play against Genoa and that is to be appreciated, the same goes for Kessié. Hakan tried training yesterday, but his foot hurts and he also felt a bit of ankle discomfort, so needs 3-4 days of rest to improve his condition. Calabria tried, but he has pain when changing direction.
“Biglia, until Monday, will have to stay at his home, he is having difficulty with his foot, the same for Caldara [both will be out of action for the next couple of months]. Torrasi and Brescianini are still out. Bonaventura worked at an athletic level both yesterday and today and he is improving.
“What comforts me the most and what worries me the most? The most important concern is the players we lost injured. At this moment we have to grit our teeth and everyone needs to give something extra. The thing that makes me happy is the desire of the group, which is hungry and knows how to make itself available. I have a team that knows how to suffer and does everything to go in search of a positive result. They are all dedicated, their performance at Milanello testifies it. I like how they experience the week and how the guys are together.
“Montolivo’s first call-up this season? What irritates me the most since I started this job is this sort of bar-talk that I read from time to time in newspapers. Montolivo has never been frozen out, he always trained with the team and then I make my choices. The club knows what I think, so if he was called up today, it’s because there are so many injuries. If he proves himself ready, then I don’t close the door on anyone. As a person, I had no problem with Montolivo, I simply had to make some choices.
“Bertolacci from the first minute? We’ll see tomorrow… I wanted him, when you have 3 competitions, it is right to have two players per role in midfield. I’ve given him little space but the choice to have him stay was mine. He gives me reliability, if he played little it’s my responsibility. But he’s always trained well, he’s committed, he never gives up and I know that if I need then I can count on him.
“Conti? He has been out for about 14-15 months since his first injury, he played wisely with the youth team yesterday, without inventing anything strange, he went very cautiously about it, he didn’t push hard and didn’t dare anything. Training and playing are two different things, he played 60 minutes and the objective is to give him consistency of 4-5 games and make him get to 90 minutes.
“Playing with the youth team is important, it helps to overcome the fear. You see ghosts and you are left with bad pain in your head when you hurt yourself, the scar stays on your head and not your knee. He’s a strong player and we have to help him be fit again, he can be of great use to us.
“The obvious gap to cover in the January transfer market? Leonardo should respond. I’m the coach and this question must be directed at Leonardo and Maldini. I train the players… ask about the mercato those who are in charge of it. Leonardo and Maldini will say who will arrive, I don’t want to talk about the mercato, I want to talk only about the players I have available.
“If it’s more difficult to qualify in the Europa League after the defeat against Betis? I’ll answer that on Wednesday, I’ll think about it after Udinese. Today I don’t have to bother my head with the Europa League, when it arrives we’ll prepare for it, my concern is tomorrow’s match.
“The match between Milan Women and Juventus Women on Sunday? I hope they make us happy, I hope we have a great win. I have a wonderful relationship with Carolina [Morace, the Women’s coach], she knows football, she’s curious, she asks. I like how she manages her team and how she talks about football. I watch them a lot on TV, they’re working a lot, they’re been playing a lot better and you see Carolina’s hand. We hope that they’ll win tomorrow.”