Pioli: “Milan need to make the most of this moment, having Ibrahimović is manna from heaven, I believe in Suso”

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Stefano Pioli during a press conference at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Stefano Pioli has spoken ahead of the game against Udinese, talking about Gigio, Hakan, Paquetá, Suso and Zlatan.

Milan are going through a positive moment as they got back-to-back wins against Cagliari in Serie A last week and against SPAL in Coppa Italia in midweek.

In the last three games, the Rossoneri scored five times and kept three clean sheets. Things are looking better for Stefano Pioli’s side since the change to a 4-4-2 formation and since Zlatan Ibrahimović has arrived. Tomorrow the Diavolo will look to get another win as they face Udinese at Stadio San Siro, where 60k fans are expected.

“The fact that there is a lot of talk about Ibrahimović, but aside from the Atalanta game Milan have been conceding few goals under me? The team is working very hard and they are finding themselves,” Pioli told reporters on Saturday. “We have shifted the formation to something slightly different from what we were doing but what’s important is that everyone is working very hard, everyone is ready to press the opponent as soon as we lose possession; and now we need to keep working on this formation with the same strength and our awareness will grow because we are a team that can score. But not conceding goals shows that we have better chances of winning.

The squad during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“The fact that the fans are close to the team despite the difficulties? Yes, that’s absolutely true. The fans are showing fantastic passion, fantastic loyalty to the team, and the team needs this support, the team needs to make the most of this moment and we need to repay our fans, who’ll continue to support us even in the toughest times. We need to take the enthusiasm from the fans and transmit it to the field, we need to give back to the fans but we can also take from them, take the energy that they bring to the stadium. Tomorrow is the start of the second of the season and we have to do better than we did in the first half. We need to pick up more wins at home.

“If Milan have recovered considering we took 14 points from 21 in the last 7 games, including the Coppa Italia? Well, we need to make the most of this moment. The team is in good shape mentally and physically. We have a very clear objective, and that is to improve our position in the league. We need to find consistency in our results, we need to pick up important points and we need to make up for the first half, which was not good enough. This is a good chance to start making up for it, because last time round we lost and this is a chance to make a statement of intent.

Ismaël Bennacer, Lucas Paquetá, Giacomo Bonaventura and Hakan Çalhanoğlu during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“If this is a decisive moment ahead of the Derby considering that there are two home games and one in Brescia coming up? Clearly, we need to pick up points as soon as possible. Not reaching 50 points would mean not respecting what this club means. Tomorrow we’ll face Udinese, we’ll face teams at San Siro four times including Torino in the Coppa Italia. It might not be a decisive moment in the league but it’s certainly a very important one for us and we need to start from tomorrow, doing as well as possible.

“The situation of the injured players? When I made my choices on Wednesday, I was hoping to recover a couple of players, unfortunately that has not happened. It is a bit of an emergency, our squad isn’t very large at the moment, but the players who are fit are in a good form, they’re motivated and they’re enough to do well tomorrow.

Stefano Pioli during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“If Castillejo is a starter in a 4-4-2 after his recent performances? Everyone is a starter, available is available. It depends on how they work on a daily basis, how they do in training and in games. Castillejo needs to find continuity. He started our well with me and then he got injured but he’s now showing again that he can be an important player.

“How is Donnarumma doing physically? Gigio is good, he’s healthy. He trained today, there are no problems. He’s motivated and available.

“If the Ibrahimović effect is working? Ibra is showing that he is not just here as a model… he is an added value to this squad: in terms of his performances on the field but also his attitude in the dressing room and in training. Having Ibra is manna from heaven, having a player like him is always a great advantage. He doesn’t even want to lose in keep away in training.

Zlatan Ibrahimović during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“If the positive streak reliving the tension from the transfer market, considering I said before that I wish I could move time forward to the end of January? There is no tension… Every player available for tomorrow’s match, every player in the squad, is working very hard and they are all very determined. We have a very, very important game to play tomorrow, so there’s no one thinking about the mercato. Everyone is focused on the game, everyone is fit, everyone is ready, and everyone is determined to win tomorrow.

“If the Ibra effect means that before the team didn’t train with determination? Ibra trains with quality, not with anger. He’s angry if other players don’t train with the same quality. This helps improve the overall level, it helps us perform better on the field – he is an added value. And he was signed for that reason too.

“Was training inferior before? It’s that it was inferior, it is that it’s improved. The performance on Sunday is based on how you work during the week. We want to pick up more points than we did in the first half of the season. If you want to change, or do better than before, you can’t do the same things you did before. We are trying to improve on many small things. In the end, when many small things are together, they can make an important difference.

Suso during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“If I would suggest to Suso to move to another club? Criticism must stimulate us, it might help us grow, and we must face it with determination and a strong character. I believe in Suso, he has the quality to be an important player.

“How is Paquetá doing mentally and if it’s harder to find a position for him in a 4-4-2? Lucas is fine, he is training very well. Obviously, if he’s not been chosen to start then he is not going to be 100% happy, but he is working and training very hard. He isn’t a true winger, that’s true, but at the same I’m not particularly interested in having true wingers. There’s a lot of talk about a 4-4-2 but the truth is I’m more interested in the characteristics of each of the players. Paquetá can add depth, whereas Castillejo can add width. So, that is not the issue. The key thing is to have a balanced team and create goal-scoring chances, to have a team that can make the most out of any opportunity that presents itself. Paquetá is a great player.

Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Samu Castillejo during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“How is Çalhanoğlu doing physically and when will Ibrahimović be 100% fit? Hakan has not completely recovered and given that we have a number of games in quick succession, I’ve chosen not to risk him. I hope he’ll be available for the next game. Zlatan is definitely getting closer to 100%, every day he is becoming more agile and quicker… obviously he’s hungry to play and just needs to continue training.

“If Begović is the second-choice or third-choice goalkeeper? Begović was signed to be the second-choice ‘keeper. From what I’ve seen in training, he is an excellent player. I’m very happy with Antonio Donnarumma’s performance against SPAL, he was ready when called upon, and it’s not easy. He’s always worked very well, he’s always been open and willing. I’m very happy with how he did and with the praise he’s received.

Asmir Begović and Gianluigi Donnarumma during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“What team do I expect to face tomorrow? Well, since Gotti took over at Udinese they have increased their points-average, they are in good shape. I don’t think it’ll be fair to consider their Coppa Italia game because they only had a couple of first team players. They have enough potential for the future, they are in a good shape mentally and physically. You can see the hand of the coach, the players on the field are solid, they help each other a lot, they’re very hard to overcome and they’re very, very good at counter attacking. We need to work as a team and with the right balance.

“What is the secret to the improvement of the defense? I think the secret is having very clear concepts of playing. Every player on the field needs to work with intensity and concentration when we’re not in possession. It’s very important to pre-empt our marking on our opponents. We have conceded chances that we could have avoided with better communication, better organization and better determination. We need to continue working as a team to make the most of every opportunity we get, whether we are in possession or not.

Stefano Pioli during a press conference at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

“Aside from the Ibra effect, what is the reason for the step forward for all the players? It’s the work we’ve done, there were a lot of little things that needed to be worked on and improved. If you work in a certain way, you expect certain results. We have worked very well and have improved. The team can continue to improve, there is a large margin for improvement, but we have improved the way we take to the field, we’ve improved the way we read the game and this has allowed us to grow as a team, and we need to make the most of this moment.

“It doesn’t take much to turn a positive moment into a negative one and that means we have to continue working hard to make sure this positive moment continues.”

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Ted
Ted
8 months ago

What I’ve acknowledged from this interview, an interim coach is getting rid of prospects such as Caldara and Paqueta while he wants to hang on to Hakan and Suso.

Paqueta could easily occupy that LM position but this coach is shortsighted and limited.

Paqueta is not a winger but neither is Olmo. They are more or less similar players, so what if Olmo comes? You’ll leave him on the bench? Play him on the wing? Change the system?

Nothing makes sense in this club. Nothing

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted

Ted, I agree totally. Another issue I have with Pioli is that Suso has been underperforming for some time now and he didn’t manage Suso well enough to remove him from the starting 11 before the fans turned on him.

It was sad to see fans booing Suso during our game against SPAL. This is clearly on Pioli who didn’t manage the situation properly.

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

Nick, the only one to blame in Suso’s situation is Suso himself. He’s supposedly our “star player” from two seasons, you can’t blame Pioli for giving him time to get back to form.

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  Baresis Dream

Suso is responsible for his poor form but who is responsible for the ineffective formation being used? The entire team was poor not just Suso. Pioli is responsible for managing the players and it was poor man management on his part that lead to the fans blaming Suso primarily for the team’s poor performance. Pioli should have removed Suso from the starting lineup a long time ago to avoid having him come under such heavy criticism from the fans. Milan’s poor performance is Pioli’s fault Not Suso. Our problem was the formation. It’s the same situation with Piatek. Should we… Read more »

loganrt87
loganrt87
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

I agree about how Suso was handled. Suso looked much sharper coming from the bench, I remember that glorious through ball he played against SPAL, and saw what he is capable of. Suso needs to step up or leave, and when Giampaolo and Pioli mad him untouchable, his performance dipped. When he is not the focus, he does well, he just isn’t world class and can’t be our go to man. As a squad player, he adds value.

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  loganrt87

@loganrt87…. Exactly. That is my point. Suso was not managed well by Pioli and Giampaolo. He looked sharpe coming off the bench against SPAL and having Ibra in the team lifted a lot of pressure off of him and Piatek.

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  loganrt87

Offcourse he has something to offer but he has seemingly been asking for a contract renewal at 5-6 mil a year for a while and that is deffently not just a squad players salary at ac milan currently . He should make up his mind as he currently also earns 3.5 mil a year which simply is too much for his inconsistency as well. Give him 2.5 mil a year and his acceptance of a new role as a super sub well then id accept him staying beyond this transfer window otherwise we are best served by him leaving while… Read more »

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

Suso should be blamed for the entire team’s performance. That’s what it means to be the “star player” of the team. The main reason for the 4-3-3 is because of Suso, since he can only play as RW. Yes, Hakan on the other side and Piatek’s slow start didn’t help. But we cannot build around a player who disappears for at least half of the season (and has no right foot for that matter). The same issue happened last season, and Piatek was there “save us” from finishing below 5th position. I’m not saying booing Suso is the solution; the… Read more »

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  Baresis Dream

@BaresisDream…No offense or disrespect at all but whoever made Suso our “star player“ is an idiot. Suso is not on the same level as Ibrahimović. Kaka, Rui Costa, Baggio, Weah, Shevchenko, Savicevic, Gullit or any of our legendary past players. To label him as our star player is irresponsible and downright stupid. I wouldn’t even make Suso our captain as he doesn’t even have the mental strength and character to handle the pressure of wear such a heavy armband. Again, this is poor man management by Giampaolo and Pioli to have such high expectations on a player who is not… Read more »

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

Nick, he was our most consistent player in offense for 2 consecutive seasons (which is more telling on us then him). It wasn’t so crazy to build on him, the problem was us not getting someone complimentary on the other side (eg deulofeu). Star player is relative to the team, not to previous Milans btw; don’t know what you’re going on about there tbh. But we seem to agree – a 30-40 mil worth player should be a “star player” in a squad of our level. And Suso simply can’t fill that role. So he should go. I still think… Read more »

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted

The goal seems to be to raise cash, and when you look at it this way things make more sense. Tomorrow Paquetta will open as LM. Hopefully he can convince mgmt to keep him.

Deku
Deku
8 months ago
Reply to  Baresis Dream

I believe what a lot of different Brazilian legends have said about Paqueta makes sense, the guy was brought as “new Kaka”, which is always a bad thing. You strip a player, his name and personality, cause the guy plays for us, is a midfielder and has Brazilian nationality doesn’t mean he’s Kaka. He’s a mezzalla not a trequartista or a winger.

Ibra/Piatek–Leao

Rebic–Paqueta–Bennacer–Ünder??

Hernandez–Romagnoli–Christensen(IK he will never come let a man dream)–Calabria

Donnarumma

Milan653
Milan653
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted

Olmo can actually play lm though quite well

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted

i know theres no reasoning with les midtables but what the hell. first of all, caldara leaves because apparently he (and his father) has bad attitude, and milan certainly doesnt need that. also, it’s maldini who sent him away not pioli. second of all, yes milan DO wanna offload suso, hakan, paqueta, piatek and basically every players except for 6 players the mgmt consider untouchables. keywords: every players and the mgmt. not only paqueta and certainly not pioli’s will. its BOBAN’s vision to start again (hopefully under new owner’s reign) with brand new squad. third of all, paqueta not playing… Read more »

Ted
Ted
8 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

Like it or not, until some other coach in Milan proves different, Rino remains the best we had in last 5 years or so. So you can waste your energy with your jibberish writings and insults all you want but Rino’s statistics says all.

Also, your insults on every other post only reveals you have deep personal issues. I feel sorry for you my fellow milanista

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago
Reply to  Ted

like i said, saying rino is the best milan coach in 5 years is like saying rino’s dogshit is less smelly than other dogshit, which is not saying much.
u want statistics? rino’s points per game at milan is 1,73, lower than miha’s 1,76 and even morontella 1,75 so u can tattoo “forza rino” on ur butt but still rino is bad coach, like napoli surely can testify.
u cant reply properly so u have to freud ur way outta this by claiming anyone who doesnt agree with u has personal issues. lol what r u, 12 yr old gal?

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

Milan10 i believe you are smart enough to know that your comment in regard of gattuso/pioli isnt really scientiffc and wouldnt hold up to much scrutiny in a courtroom. Ancellotti was pretty much fired due to the players behaviour and revolt and that the team and its moral had completely disolved. Compare that with them constantly being a top performer over several years and has had a horrible season even before gattusos arrival should put things into further perspective. He has even to my knowledge played the 4-3-3 formation that has suited napoli previously and was pretty much brought in… Read more »

Milanfan4ever
Milanfan4ever
8 months ago

Paqueta is overrated. Just another slow player in our squad. Hope they cash in while they still can.

Makavelli
Makavelli
8 months ago
Reply to  Milanfan4ever

Have been waiting for someone to say this and you said it all. Paqueta is overrated, all he does does is slow down d team. He came on against spal and did nothing than trying some stupid flicks that wasn’t successful.

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  Makavelli

@Makavelli…Totally agree about Paquetá and I was so annoyed by him doing that. He doesn’t move the ball quick enough and he is too concerned with playing with flair rather than being an effective impact player.

Technically speaking he has not matured or adapted to European football which is all about results.

Sad to say but it’s time for Paquetá to go and Leonardo is doing us a huge favor to take him to PSG. Someone like Rodrigo de Paul would be a good replacement.

Makavelli
Makavelli
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

@nick. Well said, I expect d mgt to sign tonalli and de Paul. They’re wat we need

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  Milanfan4ever

@Milanfan4ever….I totally agree. He is overrated and now I finally get why Giampaolo was frustrated with Paquetá.

Paquetá is too concerned with playing “his way” with doing tricks on the pitch rather than being effective.

He holds the ball too long and it often slows down the tempo of our game.

I’ve lost patience with Paquetá, Suso, Calhanoglu, Conti and Calabria. Milan should strongly consider replacing them with better quality players that can make a difference and improve our weak spots on the pitch.

Rodrigo de Paul or Martin Ødegaard are good replacements for Paquetá.

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago

The 4-4-2 will be tested against strong midfields. Tomorrow Udinese will play 3 strong bodies in the center; Bennaser and Kessie should be orepared. Also its a terrible hour to play football.

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  Baresis Dream

Udinese is a team that allways desserves some respect and they certainly has a few players that physically can match or test some of ours so it propably wont be a walk in the park. Generally speaking but assuming that the players gets a good nights rest you could argue the opposite as well atleast in regard of our players are young and propably gets more easily anxious than experienced ones then they wont have the entire day to get insecure. Anyways no excuses to justify not getting 3 points, its revenge time for the reverse fixtures defeat and its… Read more »

nick
nick
8 months ago

Yep. I would definitely hope that we get Rodrigo De Paul as soon possible in the winter transfer market rather than waiting for next season.

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

Nick i agree as i’d love us to get de paul even though he is detested by some parts of milan fans he certainly would be an important squad member. If we infact endup getting Olmo it would seem unlikely to happen though as both of the players preferred positions are centre atms so it doesnt really seem feasible to me and thats even without considering their transfer fees. If the chance was there id grab it with both hands though. 🙂

nick
nick
8 months ago

I was thinking the same thing but De Paul also plays LW so it’s still a possibility of getting both players. De Paul on the LW and Olmo on the RW in a the 442 formation.

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

Yeah and olmo can also play on either side still seems a bit farfetched bringing in both atleast for now but it would be an intriquing situation nevertheless.

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

I wouldn’t mind me some Fofana either

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  Baresis Dream

Me neither as he is young and still has some room for developement and propably wouldnt be too expenssive.

dejan10
dejan10
8 months ago

Who’d have thought switching to 4-2-2 could help turn things around? Jesus christ, it takes a while for the gears to start turning with these coaches doesn’t it?

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago
Reply to  dejan10

“Who’d have thought switching to 4-4-2 could help turn things around?” well mate, just like that awesome casino royale soundtrack, you know my name *wink

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  dejan10

@dejan10…it’s back to basics with 442. That’s what Sacchi used to revolutionize Milan and I strongly believe we have the players currently to play this formation.

Regardless if Pioli stays or Allegri arrives we should stick with the 442 formation as made Milan great during the late 80s and early 90s.

dejan10
dejan10
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

Yep. It escapes some people on here who want to persist with the same useless formation and refuse to see any improvement.

Baresis Dream
Baresis Dream
8 months ago
Reply to  dejan10

Turned things around? We won one game against Calgiari, and a cup match against SPAL. Read that aloud for one second … let’s not get ahead of ourselves – we suck in a 4-3-3 and we suck in a 4-4-2

Dindudre
Dindudre
8 months ago

Where are Gattuso’s fans ? Y’all seeing what he’s doing with a good thing as Napoli? Dude is not a good coach. I hope y’all can end the case now.

Martin Bernhard
Martin Bernhard
8 months ago
Reply to  Dindudre

BS, i supported him from day one til he left and he did a far better job than those who followed him and infact with far worse squads than this one. Did he have his shortcommings ? yes. Did he make us play the most beautifull football ? No, he did get us more points though which is far more important than how much you and other people are entertained or which players he fielded. Our players loved him and his tenure and openly wanted him to stay beyond the last season. Pioli has even been compared by some of… Read more »

dejan10
dejan10
8 months ago
Reply to  Dindudre

It’ll never end. Gattuso can send Napoli to Serie B and his lovers will still think he’s Guardiola.

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago

i watched 1st half of lazio – samp last night (i didnt watch much of 2nd half because i watched dortmund and madrid games as well) and they looked like a well oiled machine, a machine that has worked for so many years, like i said. S. inzaghi really has done something great here assembling a solid team without star players. like i said, to build a team first the coach need a vision and then gradually buy right players so he can implement his strategy and tactics well, according to squad at his disposal. i follow lvpool a bit… Read more »

nick
nick
8 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

@Milan10….you should receive the fan of the decade award for this comment:

“4-4-2 is to milan what 4-3-3 or 3-3-3-1 is to barca and ajax; a tradition, heritage and ticket to win.”

Totally agree 100%. 442 was Sacchi and Capello’s preferred formation and it turned me into a Milan fan.

We were invincible back then I truly believe that Milan should stick with this formation regardless of the coach because 442 is in Milan’s DNA.

Franco6
Franco6
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

100% agree with this and Milan10’s comments above. For those of us who are a bit older Sacchi and Capello’s era’s were the golden generation for us, we ruled Italy and Europe with a 4-4-2. Totally dominated, if you don’t believe me watch the 1994 European cup final against Barca. 4-4-2 is in our DNA, we need to continue on this path. 4-3-3 is for the hipsters 🙂 Its weird to say it but El Presidente always said Milan should play with two forwards, and you know what? He was right!

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago
Reply to  Franco6

correctamundo mate

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago
Reply to  nick

thanks mate. coming from u it really means something. i hope milan can go on like this

Niels8
Niels8
8 months ago
Reply to  Milan10

We abandoned 442 since Ancelotti came, and of course we cannot say that the results were bad.

Milan10
Milan10
8 months ago
Reply to  Niels8

well, ance used 4-3-1-2 mostly and 4-3-2-1 xmas tree. the truth is, using 3/4ista has always been vintage milan tradition. liedholm and rivera are some of the biggest milan legends, and they both played as 3/4ista. then again, 4-3-1-2 is just a variation of 4-4-2