Capello: “Pioli’s renewal is deserved, everyone on the Milan squad feels involved with him, he must aim high”

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Fabio Capello attend the Laureus European Summit on May 23, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden. (Photo by Patrik Lundin/Getty Images for Laureus)

Fabio Capello spoke with La Gazzetta dello Sport after Stefano Pioli renewed his deal with the Rossoneri on Friday.

Fabio Capello took Milan to the top of Italy, Europe and the World. He won 4 Scudetto, a European Cup, a European Super Cup, 3 Italian Super Cups and a Club World Cup. Having coached Milan from 1986-87, 1991-96 and 1997-98, Capello has 300 appearances as the Coach of Milan – the 4th most in history, just behind Giuseppe Viani (376), Carlo Ancelotti (420) and Nereo Rocco (459).

Stefano Pioli, who has just renewed his contract, would very much like to imitate Capello: add a few trophies to the club’s cabinet and place himself in the top of table when in regards to appearances as the Rossoneri Coach. Capello sat down for an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Alessandra Gozzini to discuss Pioli’s renewal.

Capello, how would you define the Rossonero renewal of Pioli?
“Deserved, or better yet, well-deserved. For the work done, for the exponential growth of the team and the young players, for the feeling he has been able to create with the club and with the players. It’s a determining aspect that affects the results: everyone feels involved with him. Obviously the priority is the technical-tactical work he has done, a very important work indeed.”

Of all the merits mentioned, which is the most evident?
“I like to emphasize his skill in growing young players, without putting them under pressure. Example: even when they made mistakes he renewed their trust by giving them a new chance. The maturation is evident in all the guys who are playing, all have improved with him. Kalulu is one of the most recent examples but he is not the only one. Leão with Pioli has found consistency and he has understood what exactly he has to do on the pitch. In the conquest of the French national team by Theo Hernández there is also the merit of the coach who has grown him to make him express his potential at his best. This is also true for Brahim Díaz, in whom the coach and the club have had faith, same goes for Tonali: after a season which was not up to par, they had the courage to confirm him, understanding the qualities he could have shown.”

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

In the league Pioli has already brought Milan back to the top, while in the Champions League he is playing for the qualification in the last Matchday. In what can his team still improve?
“In Europe they were penalized by the referees but that shouldn’t be an excuse. They had never played as well as they did in Madrid: there they showed themselves as a team with technique, quality, conviction and will. If they did it only at the end it’s because there’s maturation taking place. They are like a bottle of wine: it has been uncorked, now they can start drinking. They have to keep on trying, why not? They were practically out and they came back in: from a certain point of view, they have less to lose, they’ll be able to play more freely and make more of it.”

And in the league?
“The growth shown in Madrid must continue in Serie A. They are doing very well but they can do even better: they must try to impose themselves always and everywhere, like Milan have done for years. In the league they’ve shown that they are strong in their desire and conviction. After their success in Europe, they are waiting for another step: a young team could relax and think that victories are a given in Italy. Obviously this must not happen. They have to prove that they also have this consistency.”

Fabio Capello, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara during training at Milanello. (@acmilan.com)

Can Pioli also grow further? Capello can say so…
“He has always done well where he’s worked, making the most of the players he had available and making his teams play well. Now that he has created this group, he must aim high and have this ambition. He’s in a different position than usual: now he and Milan can no longer hide.”

Do you have a wish for him?
“Pioli is a coach who has worked hard and I believe that reaching this level is a source of great satisfaction, with what he has done he has shown he can reach certain levels. I congratulate him for the consistency of his results but also for the seriousness that he has always maintained, in good times and in difficult ones. His confirmation in the summer of 2020 has given him strength and confidence, also in the group. The latest renewal is more deserved than ever.”

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