Stefano Pioli was presented to the press today and he spoke about what he wants from his Milan, about the protest of the fans, and about some individuals.
Milan decided to sack Marco Giampaolo after just 7 Serie A games, and they chose to appoint former Inter and Fiorentina coach Stefano Pioli in his place.
Fans, especially online, were fuming at the decision of the club to sign Pioli, who they believe is no better than Giampaolo. Twitter was trending with the hashtag #PioliOut before the 53-year-old even signed his contract with the Rossoneri until June 2021.
Today at Casa Milan, the headquarters of the Rossoneri, Pioli was presented to the press as he sat alongside Zvonimir Boban, Paolo Maldini, Frederic Massara and Ivan Gazidis.
“Good morning everyone, I am facing this new adventure with great enthusiasm,” Pioli said. “I know that this is a great club, it is one of the most prestigious in the world. I have a lot of enthusiasm and patience. I am very confident that I can do a great job because I believe that this is a team that has a lot of potential, the players have a lot of potential and I think that I can do a great job with them.
“The protests of the fans against my appointment? First of all, I respect of supporters and supporters have the right to criticize, but this is for me an additional incentive to give all my best, to push even more. Of course, I will work on players’ heads, on schemes, on principles and concepts I want to convey to this club. These 10 days before the first match with Lecce are very important and I will make the most of it to prepare the team.
“If there’s something to retain from Giampaolo’s work or if I have to start from scratch? Well it’s difficult to say that. I believe that he’s an excellent coach but we have different ideas, different approach from mine, in the way he approaches the match and interprets the match. I want to convey my ideas to the players and to the squad in a very short time and I am sure that the level from which we start is very high because I know that the players are very professional, I know they are very high-value players. Also, from a morale point of view, I’m sure that Marco worked very well so I believe that this is a strong basis and foundations. And of course I’d like to play football which the players will feel as a positive football, which will be interpreted in a playful and in a positive way. If they are in this squad then it’s because they have the quality and character to play at Milan and at San Siro, and what I need to do is give them all the courage and all the strength they need.
“Three principles I’d like to see at my Milan? Ideas, willingness to take risks and intensity. Very simple and concrete.
“My relationship with the fans on social media and the fact that I’m an Inter fan? As for the social networks, I don’t have any kind of social network accounts, if you find any profiles then it’s not mine. But again, supporters are free to express their own opinion, I like people expressing their opinion looking into my eyes rather than through indirect means. As for the other thing, the past is the past. Supporting Inter was in the past, it’s like misleading a teenager with a mature adult. Now I’m a professional with the best intentions to give my best and a desire to do well. This is the most important thing and I believe that an assessment should be done on what I’ll do and not on what I did when I was a teenager or a child.
“If this is the riskiest mission of my life? Well, I’m always very positive, especially when I start a new adventure. We are Milan, we will fight for Milan, we will fight together to reach the best possible results, and the players need to be convinced of that. We have a glorious past and our present needs to be inline and raise up to our expectations. Of course there are difficulties, as difficulties are always there and they need to be overcome. We need to work hard with dedication and with quality to overcome difficulties and to become a truly-united team as soon as possible.
“If I’m an enhancer? I will adapt to the players, I will adapt to their qualities. I feel like a teacher, actually. My objective is to improve the players, it’s to improve each of them. By improving each of them, I have to improve the whole team. Of course, there are a lot of excellent qualities in this squad that we need to be able to boost and enhance. We need to do a great job, because we have the conditions, we have the facilities, we have the support of the clubs. We need to be able to reconquer our supporters again, they are there and they are waiting for our performance, they are demanding, they are passionate and this is a right thing, they witnessed excellent games and excellent players in the past.
“If there are any urgent aspects where I’d like to intervene from a technical and mental point of view? Of course I watched all the matches, although I was contacted only last Monday. But I watched nearly all the games and I will make the most to study them more deeply. But despite that, what interests me is understanding players, having a ‘feeling’ with them and enable them to give their best. I am very demanding with my staff as I am with my players. I don’t bare superficiality, I don’t like when there’s a lack of ambition, and so I believe that everyone has to give their own best to achieve the best possible result, because the Champions League is still there. This is quite a special occasion, because there are still 31 matches before the end so there is much room for improvement. Of course, we know that time can be an enemy but it is also an ally because we have to make the most of every moment to grow and do our best.
“If this squad can reach fourth place? We must fight for the Champions League. What characteristics about this squad make me optimistic we can reach fourth? I believe that our technical qualities, technical features, players that can resolve the games, I believe that there is a mix of technical and physical qualities that makes me optimistic to undertake a very effective football. Of course we’ll have to fight against very strong squads, we have to compete with very well-trained squads, very-organized squads and with very strong players. We need to be brave, we need to be aware of our possibilities and also be aware of the difficulties that there are there to overcome, and we know that everyone has to give something more in order to compete at such a high level.
“If the players were stopped by some kind of complicated football concept? I don’t know, it’s very difficult from the outside to judge a situation. I know which kind of approach I want to have and I believe that the characteristics of our players can suit my approach. And I’d like to think that my approach, my way of play, from what I could witness from my own experience, is that the players, when they have the enthusiasm, they are really able to give their best. When a player goes and feel well with the way he’s playing, I believe that he can really give the best and we need players that can give the best.
“Comparisons with my experience at Inter? I believe that comparing different experiences is wrong, because the players are different, the setting is different, also because my life and my experience have always looked towards the future and not back, so I’ll make the most of my players, I want to understand them and do a great job.
“Working with Piątek and where would I play Paquetá? Piątek is a very effective player in the penalty area, I believe that often the forward is influenced by the work of the whole team, so the more we are effective the better it is. And I believe that more occasions will be given to the forwards and Piątek has the skills and the capabilities to score goals. But also there are other players that can be very good offensively. Paquetá, I believe, is a very good midfielder and he has good qualities. I believe he’s a complete player. I like to move the players around through the match, so sometimes they will be more in the central park, sometimes more on the sides, sometimes he may score as well. We have a lot of midfielders and I like a lot when they are quality midfielders, I like midfielders that can conclude an action, when they are dynamic, and so with the right characteristics to interpret the game that I have in mind.
“If Leão will be a crucial part of my Milan and how would I like to revive Suso? Leão has great potential, a very high potential and I believe we have to make the most of him. But at this very moment I’m unable to say that he’ll be the only pillar, everyone needs to feel important and everyone needs to give their best, and I will make my decision on each different occasion, so everyone needs to play well and he has a lot of qualities. Suso is an unquestionable quality player, of course, he needs to be put in the condition to go one-against-one, and he also can be a very dangerous player and do very well.
“I said I want to create a ‘feeling’ with the player and get into their heads? I believe that the right mix is playing with quality and intensity, this is the perfect mix in modern football, having very intense matches. There is a lot of talk about playing well, but this depends a lot on our ability to defend. I want to interpret this in a very brave way, we way to be aggressive and recuperate the ball as soon as possible.
“If I’ve decided on the formation and if I’ve already identified leaders for this squad? Numbers are more important for you than for me. What counts for me is principles and concepts of games. There are characteristics of which I want to make the most, but the important thing is to have a team identity, which means to be clear on how we want to interpret and make the most of the game.
“What will I have to work on? There are many things that can be done. I think I’ll focus more on Lecce, because I want to prepare for the match at best. Some players are not with us but these 10 days are very important for me, for my staff, for this squad, to know each other. I believe we need to be aware that we are Milan and that we have a home match at San Siro, so we don’t need to be anxious, we just need to be determined of what it requires. We need to channel our emotions positively, in order to play this match at our best and win.
“What is my slogan, considering Giampaolo’s was ‘head up and play well’? To win, this is my slogan. No matter where your head is, up or down, we have to win. What kind of coach I am? I am a demanding coach, but I am very careful about human relationships.
“What choices of the past would I no longer make? Well, all of my experiences were useful, we can always learn something. We have to demand, I want them to give their best, we have the potential to improve and I want them to be very focused, because quality work, efforts, dedication and sacrifice, is what is required to achieve results. Maybe in the past sometimes I lost focus but I will not commit that mistake again.”
After his press conference, Pioli also spoke to Sky Italia: “I’m excited and I really want to start. I want to start an important path, we can do well. My concepts? Ideas and intensity, in this modern football you can’t do without these things, you need a cohesive team. The fans? I have great respect for the Milan fans. My past as a kid doesn’t count, but rather the present of a professional who will try to get the best results with Milan.
“What the directors told me? They were very direct and clear. I found some very strong people, I’m sure that I will have great support from them. The club is important, we have many good players. We just have to work and have a very specific team identity. There is no winning formation, the important thing is the attitude and approach to the games. We must always try to win.
“My slogan? Playing well gives you more chances to win. We need to improve our standings, we have the quality to play good football too. The Champions League? It’s our objective, even though I know it will not be easy. There is a lot of time, there are still 31 Matchdays left, so there is room to get a lot of points.
“Piątek? We need to understand the reasons for his difficulties. I want to play purposeful football, I want a lot of players in the box. He’s a great striker and we must try to make the best out of him.”
Pioli also talked to MilanTV: “Priorities and objectives? A new coach always brings new ideas, meaning that we need to build our new identity. There are many games left, but time is limited in football. We have to make the most of all the time we have to work together, to get to know each other and become a team, as soon as possible. I know what needs to be done, it’s important that I have the whole squad available. What’s important is that we focus on ourselves, on our work and think about our next game, without looking at the past, which probably wouldn’t help anyone. I’ll immediately work on explaining my idea of football, as well as explaining to my players what I expect from them, in terms of their role on the pitch, their attitude and behavior. I know this is a solid group, but I have to urge them to put in an extra effort because we have to do better.
“The fact that it’s a young team? Having a young squad has its perks, such as enthusiasm, audacity, the will to work hard, of enjoying what they do and this needs to be an asset for the club. Since not only are they young, but they are quality players too.
“I managed Fiorentina through Davide Astori’s death? I’m sure Davide would be happy to know I’m here at Milan. I had the pleasure of knowing Davide, he will always be in my thoughts because he was a special guy.”