Stefano Pioli urges Milan not to dwell on the season but concentrate on making an impact, following a 3-1 win over Roma.
Milan swiftly grabbed the lead with Yacine Adli’s first goal after 11 minutes, using a clever dummy to switch from right to left. Olivier Giroud then headed in from a well-executed corner. Although Leandro Paredes pulled one back for Roma with a penalty, Theo Hernandez, in collaboration with Giroud, smashed his finish off the underside of the bar.
“Clearly, at 2-1 anything can happen. We had wasted chances to get the third goal. We were starting to feel tired. But we got there eventually.” Stefano Pioli told DAZN after the victory.
“Playing against Roma’s 3-5-2, we make the full-backs and wide men work hard. We tried at times to wait for them to come forward, as otherwise it would leave spaces for El Shaarawy and Lukaku, while we didn’t follow Pellegrini’s run on the penalty incident. These are small things that need to be improved. I thought we were overall balanced tactically.”
Stefano Pioli faced substantial criticism following the midweek Coppa Italia quarter-final loss to Atalanta. Does he believe the expectations are too high?
“I am honestly not worried, irritated or easily offended by criticism. We raised the expectations ourselves with our performances over the last four years, so naturally people expect us to go further in the Champions League, to reach the Coppa Italia semi-final.
“The season is still very long. We still have the opportunity to show that we are a quality squad that can challenge for the top.”
Stefano Pioli: We’ve got to step on the gas now
Does Pioli’s statement suggest he believes Milan is still in the Scudetto race, given they are only nine points behind the top spot?
“No, take us out of that. We have to focus on ourselves and the objective is very clear. We did fairly well in the first half of the season and want to do better in the second half. I don’t think 39 points is too bad a tally at the midway stage. But we’ve got to step on the gas now.
“Considering all that we had said over the summer, we believe that we could’ve had more points. The games where we dropped the ball were against Juventus, Napoli, Udinese and Lecce, picking up only two points despite not playing all that badly.
“There is no point thinking now about what might’ve been. We have Serie A and the Europa League and can still have our say in those competitions.”
Milan continues to concede too many goals. Despite recalling Matteo Gabbia from his loan with Villarreal, is there a plan to acquire more defenders in the January transfer window?
“The club knows there are some requirements. They are working. We’ll see if there are any opportunities we can take to fill the gaps that are caused by injuries.” said the coach, Stefano Pioli.
Club owner Gerry Cardinale, alongside advisor Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was in the stadium and entered the locker room for a pep talk before kick-off.
“Cardinale motivated us before the match in the locker room. He said that the owners are by our side and will try to support our ambition, but above all with intelligent investment. I couldn’t talk about the budget for January, as I don’t know what it is.”