Stefano Pioli believes Milan deserved the three points against Parma which would ‘help on a psychological level’.
On Pioli’s 7th match in charge, the Rossoneri got their 5th win of the season and Stefano’s 2nd, as they defeated Parma 1-0 at Stadio Ennio Tardini today.
Milan were dominant from start to finish but struggled greatly, once again, to put the ball at the back of the net. In the 88′ minute, however, luck smiled at the Diavolo: Jack Bonaventura’s shot was saved by Luigi Sepe but the Parma defense cleared the ball poorly and somehow it ended in the legs of Theo Hernández who beat Sepe and gave Milan three very important points.
“We had over 25 attempts on goal, but we were clear today, the team knew how important the game was,” Pioli told Sky. “Even if all matches are worth three points, some mean more than others. We were coming off good performance, albeit not good results, and it was time to bring home the victory. We dominated possession, shots on goal, showed intelligence and determination, so we deserved it.
“The standings? I’ll leave it [hanging] in the dressing room. We must be realistic, as one game doesn’t fix everything. We have many more areas to improve, we have to stay focused and we need to get as many points as possible before the Christmas break, because Milan cannot stay in this position in the table. I’m satisfied with my players’ performance, we made 90% of successful passes.
“The moment? When I see players who train hard, have the right attitude and determination, I don’t close to door. I’ve had more positive sensations over the last 3-4 weeks, I see the players very motivated and taking responsibility for the situation. All who are outside are less happy but those who entered from the bench today did well. We must think about the next game against Bologna which will be very difficult.
“Tactics: We have to make the right choices also in reference to what the opponents give us, sometimes we can go straight to the striker. We have to read these situations better, we played with the right spirit because otherwise you don’t shoot this much on goal.
“Leão and Piątek? Leão came on well, it’s true that Leão doesn’t fill the box like Kris, but we have others who can push forward from midfield, Çalhanoğlu, Suso and Bonaventura entered it. Kris misses the goal, he can’t be smiling, we are here to help him and he must allow us to help him.
“Ibrahimović? We’re thinking of the next games. There is a great discussion with the club and we’ll see what will happen. It’s important to become aware without losing humility.”
In the post-match press conference, Pioli said: “Three fundamental points? The objective is to think about the next game, maintaining the performance of the last month. Today’s three points help on a psychological level. We hadn’t won in a long time. We were against a difficult opponent but we deserved to win. We created a lot and risked little. The players were good. Nothing changes. We have to grow and think about Bologna.
“If we could’ve done more up front? Of course. We are working a lot at the team level. We need to be more precise and concrete. We’re not satisfied with shooting 27 times on goal and scoring a single goal. Our aim is to improve the standings. The objective was to win and if it didn’t arrive then it would have been very heavy. We have to stay focused. The opponents are tough.
“What effect did it have to be an opponent against Parma? I rejoiced, even if I’m 100% Parmesan the victory was too important. Perhaps, if we had been elsewhere, I would’ve celebrated more. Milan must play like this. If we are criticized for goals conceded in the last minutes then today we scored a goal in the last minutes because we held up at the mental level. We were lucid and good at staying in the game until the end.
“What has changed in the mentality of the team? Too often we give judgment on goals conceded or scored in the last minutes. I always think that it’s the head that commands the players. We wanted this win, it was the head that determined our victory. And we must take an example from this challenge for the future.
“If this can be the turning point game? It will be if we give continuity to the results. It was important, but also the next games are important. Then, there will be a break where we will understand where we will have to work more and where we are better. We must learn from this win, from the quality of the approach, and I think my players have understood that. I have positive feelings. I’m satisfied with what I’m seeing in training.
“How did Bonaventura do and why did I play Kessié instead of Krunić? I deployed the best team for what the opponent was and what was done during this week, where I saw Kessié more suitable than Krunić. I think Bonaventura worked well. He always knows what to do. He also played as a trequartista, but when you have smart players, they know how to adapt.
“The recovery of Conti? He’s doing well. Calabria is also a very good player. I chose Andrea to give continuity also to the defensive phase. He had a good performance, conceding little.
“How do I rate Kessié’s performance? In the ball possession phase he had to move more to free up space and help Suso get away from his marker. He inserted into the box well, he had chances. This is how you have to work. Those who work less will not be chosen. I have difficulty in making choices because everyone is training well and I prefer to sleep a little less rather than have the choices easy and already made.
“If Kessié has recovered mentally? I try to be very clear with the players. If you make a mistake, you pay. But if you make a mistake once, the door does not remain closed forever. The team has worked so hard to have the win. It’s good that today they celebrate because from Tuesday there is hard work to do.
“If there is an attacker on my wish-list? I would like to speak positively about the attackers. The path is the right one and the time will come when we’ll be able to score more through them.”
Pioli also had an interview with MilanTV: “This was definitely a hard-fought win because we were up against a tough opponent. I think the guys really deserved this win, especially for the clarity of mind with which they controlled the field and their desire. We were determined to win, we knew it was an important match to get over this moment. Clearly, we haven’t sorted everything out yet but I’m very happy with the work carried out during the week and with tonight’s results, and I’m very happy for all our fans who continue to cheer us on despite our difficult moment. They were fantastic today, helping and pushing us on till the end.
“The defense? I firmly believe that, if the defense does well, it means the rest of the team is working well pressing and aggressing our opponents well and closing the lines well. On top of that, in these last two games the defense has done very well, playing with the right attitude and doing many things right. However, there are just as many things we still can, and must, improve on.
“What needs to be improved? 25 shots on target, 6 clear cut chances and just 1 goal, right at the end, means we risked dropping points we definitely would have deserved. We have to be more clinical when on the attack, but at the same time, we created a lot because we were making the right decisions and getting our passes on target, so we’ve got to continue on this path. Still, we need to be aware that the next game will be just as challenging and just as important to prepare well for it.”