Stefano Pioli has spoken ahead of his debut, saying that ‘I feel I am prepared to be at this level’ and that ‘the performance tomorrow will greatly determine my future work’.
Milan sacked Marco Giampaolo at the start of the international break, and coach Stefano Pioli to the club to try and salvage the bad start of the Rossoneri.
Tomorrow, Pioli starts his journey at Milan with a game against Lecce at Stadio San Siro (20:45 CEST). Preparing for the game was not easy, as 12 players were away on international duty, but Stefano knows that he needs to kick off his Diavolo career with a win.
“What kind of team did I see in training? We haven’t been together for many days, I expected to find attention, availability and curiosity and I found these answers. The most important thing will be tomorrow night’s performance, to show that we have clear ideas and we must show the right attitude to win,” Pioli told journalists in the press room at Milanello this Saturday.
“If I can be defined as an ‘aggregator’ because I wanted the group very united form the start? Journalists like labels… a coach has to work at 360 degrees. I told the team that they had to use this time to get to know us immediately and well. I’ve brought a method of work that is attentive to detail, which concerns rest, work, nutrition and every aspect that concerns the team, so that we can express ourselves at the best of our potential.
“What has amazed me the most so far? The Milanello environment. I seem to have been here for a long time, because there are people here who have Milan in their hearts. The team needs to play together, we need to see attitudes on the pitch in order to intervene. I’m sure that’s a lot of potential and characteristics, I’m sure we can do a good job.
“If I’ve given myself time to understand the work to be done? Certainly, given the calendar is at it is, the next break will be a reference point, after five games. But our way of thinking must be about the next game, entering the field with the mentality of someone who can win the game.
“How did the personal interview with Piątek go? I’ve always done personal interviews with players, I believe that first of all we have to get into the minds of the players. I told Piątek what I told his teammates: that I have great faith in him and that if we are at Milan then it’s because we have important values that we have to show.
“If Piątek will play from the start tomorrow? The team still doesn’t know anything about the formation. If we play in the evening then I usually give the formation in the morning. Today will be the decisive day to understand who will play from the start. What I can say, is that I’ll field a team that will try to dominate the game. We face an important game against a tricky opponent. Lecce have picked up 6 points, winning 2 games away from home, they’ve also won back-to-back promotions in Serie C and Serie B, and they know each other well.
“If I think Leão should play as a central striker or alongside Piątek in a two-man attack? I haven’t coached him much this week, but I feel he’s more of a central striker. It suits his characteristics better. To play out wide he will have to grow and become more accomplished. He has a great potential and great margins for growth, he’s a very interesting prospect, and he can immediately give excellent results.
“In what position do I intend to use Çalhanoğlu? I think he has more offensive characteristics where he can trouble the opponent’s defense with his movements and his skill, than building-up low in midfield, but he can do both. We need to take our positions that will put our opponents’ defense under pressure. It’s very important to change were to start building the game depending on who we face and how they line-up, I like very much to make changes in these situations. Some mezz’ali can be used further-back in the build-up whereas others are used more forward for their ability to make runs inside the box. My choices will be based on the characteristics of the players. Çalhanoğlu’s comments on social media in regards to Turkey President Erdogan? I don’t comment on these things.
“What impression have I had of Paquetá and if he will be a central part of my project? He’s in good shape but it’s only been a few days. The choices I will make for tomorrow’s team will not be based on the long-term project I have. I haven’t had much time to work with many of the players. All the players are ready to play, everyone wants to play which is the right attitude to have and they need to have this attitude from now until the end of the season. Everyone needs to give everything they’ve got in training. I might have one idea at the beginning of the week and then change my mind over the course of the week, or something unexpected might happen. As for Paquetá specifically, he is a quality player, very good at making runs forward and he is one of those players who have the characteristics to do well in both phases of the game.
“Who will play tomorrow and the fact that Giampaolo was criticized for his lack of use of the new signings? When I choose who starts tomorrow, I won’t be looking at the age of the players or when they joined the club. It’s very important to get your initial line-up correct, the strong players will play but at the same time it’s important to have quality players on the bench so you can make changes during the game. And whether a player plays one minute, two minutes of the entire game, they need to do their very best to help the team. Rebić is the other player, together with Biglia, who I have already coached, even though it was only for a short period. He has developed considerably thanks to his important experiences in Frankfurt and with Croatia at the World Cup. He has strong character, strong personality, and I’m sure that he can give a strong contribution.
“If I think Giampaolo’s excessive requirements short-circuited the team and if I lightened the work-load? I think that football is made up of ideas and positions to take.
“If my decision that the players don’t have to sleep at Milanello the day before a game was made to reduce tension? My idea is to make the players more responsible, if the players stay here the night before the game then they start to feel like they’ve done everything they can to prepare for the game. These nights are no longer what they used to be, everyone sits down and plays video games in their room or stays alone. I don’t think that it’s necessary to spend the night here at Milanello, but I think it’s necessary to work and to always be focused. I want my players to be responsible, they are professionals, and they need to take to the field with clear ideas, knowing they did everything they could to be ready for the game. We have to live our profession 24 hours a day and always think about Milan. I don’t think sleeping in the same building the night before the game, especially when you play at night, can make much of a difference.
“Lecce coach Fabio Liverani said that in 10 days no coach in the world can turn a team around? I think there’s a bit of truth to what he said. But in 10 days, there is time to instill some ideas and to change some positioning. I know that my players will not be perfect or precise in the way they interpret the game tomorrow, because they’ve not had time yet to assimilate all of the ideas yet, but that is why we need to have the right attitude, we need to have the right work ethic, and all our players need to work for each other. It’s in that point of view that I expect to see the greatest improvement.
“I said that I expect to see results and surprises tomorrow but what we’ve seen from Milan has been far from encouraging so far and the impression is that this squad can do more? When talking witch each player face-to-face on individual base, I didn’t ask what worked or didn’t work previously, for us a new path starts tomorrow in which we must see ourselves as protagonists on the pitch. Tomorrow’s performance will greatly determine my future work. We can talk as much as we want here before the game, but tomorrow I will fully understand the characteristics of my player, physical and especially mental characteristics. I’ve seen that they have good qualities in training.
“If I’ll be able to calm down the players who’ve been quite traumatized from previous seasons? I certainly hope they’ll be calm but the most important is to see that they have the right approach and the right mentality. They will be difficult moments in every game, but we need to put into practice the work we did during the week and have compactness and cohesion. Now, we haven’t had much time this week to work together, but I have given guidelines to follow.
“If I think that San Siro limits this team and what is the main flaw of this team? There will be 50,000 fans at the stadium tomorrow, their support will be great and we need to do our very best to pay them back for their support. We need to do well, we need to do well for the club, we need to do well for the fans, we know what position we are in the league, and if we truly do not deserve to be where we are at the moment in the league – this is the moment to prove it. I do not believe that the stadium or the fans can be an excessive pressure. It is an honor and a great source of pride to be the coach of Milan. And it should be the same for each of my players. If you play for Milan, you must not be intimidated by playing at San Siro, it must be a stimulus, an extra motivation. As for the squad, there are certain incidents and certain moments during the game that we need to improve on, we need to increase our intensity and how we develop the game.
“If this is the top of my career? I feel I am prepared to be at this level, at the beginning of my career it wasn’t like that. I’ve been coaching for two decades, I’ve had many experiences and some were positive and some were negative, but I’ve learned a lot from that, especially from the negative experiences. I have improved from a technical and moral point of view. Tomorrow I turn 54-years-old and I hope I have reached the level where I’m ready for this challenge.
“What kind of car would I compare this Milan to? Well, I think we have quite a lot of horse power and now we need to make the most of it.
“If it can be intimidating or motivating to work with former players like Maldini and Boban? We’re in constant contact, and I can add Massara to this as well. I believe that in every club it is important for there to be synergy and I believe that it’s important for every member to have skill but at the same time respect for each person’s role. I think I’m leading with very high-level people.
“What present do I hope for to get for my birthday tomorrow? Certainly, a win.
“What do I expect from the team in tomorrow’s game? As I said, in training they are all working extremely hard. But we need to be careful at how much intensity we put into the training. Due to a change in coach, they have a heavier mental burden to bare so I’ve done my best to balance things out to make sure all the players are in the best condition mentally and physically for tomorrow’s game. But it will be tomorrow’s game that will give me better and more precise information about the team and the tactics we need to use. Tomorrow we will train but before that we have another training session together. The game tomorrow will be very different from the training sessions leading up to it. But it will be an important stage to help me make choices in the future.
“What’s the atmosphere in the dressing room and the desire of the players to make up for lost ground? As I said, the squad is curious and very attentive. But before I begin to trust anyone, they need to earn my trust. The attitude so far has been correct. Now we need to play well.”