Gennaro Gattuso said ‘I am the captain of this boat and I am the one with the most responsibility of all’ after yet another shameful performance, which got Milan out of the Coppa Italia.
Milan won just one time in their last seven matches in all competitions and the performances of Gattuso’s side seem to get worse and worse with each passing week.
Last night the Rossoneri, with a 3-4-3 formation, took on Lazio for the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final. The Biancocelesti were in the driver seat for the entire game and in the first half forced a number of a great saves from Pepe Reina, who started instead of Gianluigi Donnarumma and was the Diavolo’s best player.
In the second half, Milan were even poorer and Lazio were in complete control. In the 57′ minute, the Rossoneri took one of their famous terrible corners and this corner resulted in a Lazio counterattack which ended with Joaquín Correa beating Reina to give Lazio a much-deserved lead. Milan tried to get back in the game, but showed very little fight, very little brain and absolutely no imagination or creativity. And so the game ended with Lazio winning and qualifying for the Coppa final.
The only thing uglier than the display of football shown by Milan last night was the group of fascist and racist Lazio fans who sang choirs against Tiémoué Bakayoko and had racist slurs directed at him.
“In the first half we held out well, then Lazio came out. In the first 10 minutes of the second half we conceded three chances,” Gattuso told RAI Italia in the post-match press conference. “We’re going through a moment that is like this, we are struggling but we must turn the page. On Sunday it’s a game of ‘in or out’. We need to understand clearly the decline that we’re going through. Lazio deserved to qualify and the fans deserved something more.
“The game? There is little to analyze, Lazio deserved the win. In the first half we were organized, we created little but we weren’t suffering. In the second half Lazio were superior. Right now my team is struggling and it shows. We have tried to find new solutions but what we’re doing is not enough.
“The change in formation? Sometimes you change just to do something different, to improve the performance, lift the team. Something isn’t working and we’ve been struggling for the last month. I don’t think it’s just physical, but also mental and tactical, as we are performing below our capabilities.
“How to get out of this moment? Also on Wednesday we tried to play a life or death game, but it didn’t work. Lazio were coming off a difficult moment too, but we made it easier for them. We started well but we must have the lucidity to understand what is not working and look ahead.
“There’s no point denying it, we take responsibility, we embarrassed ourselves. The head is on Sunday night, we must have the strength to get out of it, we have one month left until the end of the season and we have a duty to do our best. The trip to Turin? We must recover and not blame this or that. The responsibility lies with everyone. The most important thing is to be able to recover our energies.
“Piątek is getting little service? Even when we play with to strikers we don’t improve… it’s not about individuals or formations – it’s a decline of the entire team, we play with the handbrake on and we’re paying for that. The problem is not tactical, the problem is how we approach the games. We need to improve on this aspect… if we focus only on the strikers then we are on the wrong track.
“Paquetá? He is an important player, but the whole team was working well [when Paquetá was playing regularly]. There has been a decline. The loss of Paquetá was important. He is training with us and we hope he can give us something in the last games.
“My choices? When I make choices no one forces me to do anything. We have the wrong approach to games, even if I didn’t mind the first half as we didn’t give the pitch to Lazio. We started the second half badly, but I would’ve made the same choices. I imagined a different match.”
Gattuso also spoke to MilanTV at the end of the game at San Siro: “Not much worked, we struggled in attack and in defense. We didn’t run any risks in the first half but we started slowly in the second and let them get up the pitch straight away. In the end, it was a performance to forget. I saw that we were worried and demoralized in our attitude, it showed in the goal that we conceded. Mentally, technically and physically, we’re struggling a lot, you can see that.
“Caldara? Mattia had a good game, he only needed one opportunity and he took it well. He had the freedom to play from the back and did so well. Piątek? The problem isn’t about Krzysztof or his lack of supply but it concerns the whole team. When we can’t get the ball to Suso and Castillejo, the whole team is left vulnerable to counterattacks. It’s everyone’s problem.
“Torino? We suffered a heavy blow, we’ve disappointed our fans who turned up in great numbers. Now, we must do well to regain our energy so that we can bring the fight to Torino, a team that bring lots of energy and physicality to the pitch.”
In the post-match press conference, Rino added: “Piątek? We’ve been having a decline for a month now. At the first difficulty on a physical level or at a technical-tactical level we’re struggling… Piątek’s performance reflects the moment we’re going through. Caldara? I think he just needed an opportunity. He was good at being ready and was very good in defense and in the build-up.
“If it’s more of a physical or a mental problem? They go hand in hand. In the second half we entered the pitch badly. I’m worried and puzzled by the fact that all the games have been similar for some time now. If I think that I can change the inertia? We are trying to do different things. The biggest concern is how we react. We saw a bit of light against Lazio [in Serie A] and Juventus, then we took two steps backwards. If I feel that I still have the team in hand and that it’s still alive? It’s normal that I face some questions. For my part and for the part of all, we are struggling and you can see that.
“Mazzoleni did not stop the game when the Lazio fans sang racist choirs aimed at Bakayoko? We must congratulate the players on the pitch. The choirs started in the afternoon. I hope that the referee didn’t hear them, but yesterday we spoke with the players and told them to be an example.
“If I feel entitled to be the coach of Milan? I feel that we are struggling to get results. I feel I’m the captain of this boat and I’m the one with the most responsibility of all. I’m one the first one to be responsible, from time to time this part is hard.”
The last five games of the season are against Torino, Bologna, Fiorentina, Frosinone and SPAL. If Milan don’t drastically improve, it’s very, very hard to imagine that they’ll keep their 4th place.