Marco Giampaolo has talked about what went wrong against Torino as he prepares for tomorrow’s game.
Milan will look to put the five opening Serie A games, in which they lost three times, behind them, and start afresh tomorrow at San Siro against Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina (20:45 CEST kickoff).
It remains to be seen who Giampaolo will choose to start the match, but the system could once again be 4-3-3, with Rafael Leão and Suso flanking Krzysztof Piątek. Whoever starts, however, will have to be much more clinical than what Milan were against Torino, as they missed numerous chances on Thursday.
“What feeling did I have following Donnarumma’s statements yesterday, considering he was labelled as one of the dressing room leaders last week and yesterday he said that the team is on the right path? It was certainly a pleasure [to hear Gigio’s words], but I always begin with the point that you can never lie to your players, because the coach instills things in his players not just through words but with feelings as well. He has clearly understood well and he’s come out and stated what he believes in.
“What went wrong against Torino and if I feel that the team failed to pick up on the signals that danger was coming? In Turin we made the mistake of not killing off the game. That is what we needed to do to win that match. At a certain point we did lose some of our coordinates, we struggled to provide a filter in midfield and set up our defense properly. I had fun for most of the game, by having fun I mean that the team was playing the way we wanted to, they were doing things naturally. However, we still need to learn to manage the moment. The overall judgment of the game, however, is affected by the result.
“If the right direction has been found? Aside from any choices, we are always paying a lot of attention to individual players, but I prefer to look at how the team plays. My objective from my very first day was for the team to learn to manage every moment of the game, to be in complete control of every game, to have more possession than our opponents. All these elements direct the game, for most of the match in Turin I saw these things being done well. The team were confident in what they were doing. A small detail can often ruin everything. On this occasion we lost, we had a number of chances to double our lead, we failed to double and we failed to kill off the match.
“What game will Milan have to play tomorrow against Fiorentina? Every game is complicated, there is no such thing as an easy game, and you need to work hard every time, as the season is showing. In the end, it is the mentality that makes the difference. I always tell my players to respect the opponents, regardless of where they are in the league. We need to play with an offensive mentality, we need to be hungry and want to win.
“Why the team is struggling so much to score? Before the game against Torino, there was a reason: we hadn’t created a number of chances to score, we’d failed to create opportunities to score. On the other hand, against Torino we had a number of chances: we dominated the ground, we were in our opponents’ box. We can’t analyze all five games in the same way, the first four were one thing but against Torino we were lacking accuracy. However, I still feel that there is no problem with our forwards.
“If we are at the beginning of a ‘feeling’ between Piątek and Leão considering they were switching positions in the derby and against Torino Piątek’s cross to Leão resulted in a penalty? Piątek, in that position, is at his best, that’s where he was used to play. Leão, I think, has the characteristics of playing on that side, so it’s natural to position him there. However, the ability of the players to find room to play is the result of their own characteristics. We need to bring a lot of players forwards, to bring them into our opponents’ half. It’s important to win the ball back, close to our opponents’ penalty area. It is certainly more difficult when teams play with all their men behind the ball. But both players have the quality to find the room to play. They are starting to have a good ‘feeling’ between them, as are others. The two of them don’t exclude other players. Like I said, I don’t pay attention to individual players. I want to see how they contribute to the entire team.
“There seems to be fragility in the team when a match begins to be more physical and if this team needs to work on their temperament? I believe it’s possible to defend by improving our possession of the ball, because if you have the ball there are, inevitably, less opportunities for the opponents. The team has the right temperament, we need to learn how to better manage possession, especially when our opponents might react to how we are performing. There are no games where you can dominate for 95 minutes, it is important to learn how to limit our opponents to our technical abilities, which is a characteristic of this team. The more rough players I put on, the less technical players I can field.
“If I’m going to make changes tomorrow night? We have carefully evaluated the physiological responses of each individual player. We have data, today we’ll be evaluating them again and then tomorrow I will judge who is fittest for the game. Obviously I’ll also have to be careful of the fitness levels.
“If we’ll continue tomorrow with 4-3-3 or with 4-3-1-2. It is important to cover the entire field, in Turin we were extremely well-positioned as long as we had the right points of reference. As soon as our points of reference changed, we struggled on the first pressure, which led us to putting our defensive line at risk. Every play, as we did in the beginning, we had the center covered and could play on the wings. With the 4-3-3 we have to be good at bringing players close to Piątek. The two formations lead to different requirements on the field, I know you [the journalists] are less interested in these tactical aspects, but a game is made up of many little details. But these things are essential to avoid waiting for your opponents to make it to your half. My players are very careful and are paying a lot attention in training, I am very demanding, and I know that the balance and equilibrium of the team is affected by even the tiniest of details.
“I said there was a reason we didn’t score much in the first four games? I was merely referring to goal scoring. The strikers had a justification because we were not creating goal-scoring chances. When you’re unable to score, because you’re unable to create chances then that’s a normal result. However, against Torino we produced more chances, all I’m saying is that it’s wrong to compare all five games. In the first four, our forwards had an excuse… in Turin they didn’t, despite the fact that we lost.
“Going back to the old formation? You begin working down one road. I don’t like changing, because when you change you lose your points of reference, for individual players and for the whole team. We need to continue working on the same project. 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 doesn’t really make much difference, it’s the characteristics of each individual player that make the difference. It’s not the formation that wins the game. Allegri’s Juventus won seven titles playing with variable formations changing every game, it’s not the formation that wins in the end.
“I said the new arrivals need to settle in but against Torino three of them started and played well? The new arrivals still need to complete their settling in. They need to continue with specific training, but that also applies to the older players. All our players need to work a lot and hard. When we talk about new and old players, the question is about their ability to play the entire 90 minutes, it’s not a technical question. But the cohesion still needs to be developed for all players.
“If I regret not playing the new players sooner considering the first 65 minutes against Torino? As for the new players, Theo Hernández was injured for a month and a half, he’s very fit, he has got great impetus pushing forward and he’s a very proactive player, but he was injured for a month and a half. We weren’t in a position to choose. The same goes for Bennacer and it’s very similar with Leão. So I have no regrets. And the players who were here before are not inferior to the others. A team cannot have just 11 players.
“If I’m happy with the club coming out in support of my work? Confidence is not something that someone gives you because you are beautiful, tall and with blue eyes… It’s a very difficult and complex matter. You [the journalists] base everything on the results which I understand. But for others, it can be the process, the work that is carried out. 22-23 years ago, I was in the other position, I worked as a director in a small club, so I know how clubs think. In the end, the important thing is whether the coach is credible, whether the team is following him, whether he has a clear project. Hopefully, in the end it goes well beyond results and scoring or not scoring. The board makes its decisions based on many more elements.
“If showing Piątek some Quagliarella goals will help considering Capello used to show Ibrahimović goals from Van Basten and it helped him? Last season, Piątek scored more than 20 goals. Each player has his own characteristics, you can’t really compare. They are different situations, and the clubs have different expectations. I show my forwards their own videos.
“Why did the blackout happen against Torino? You [the journalists] always look at the final frame… on the occasion of the two goals, Musacchio has no responsibility – you are focusing on the last frame: Belotti against Musacchio. But Musacchio did exactly what he had to, our mistake was earlier. On the second goal, when we lost our initial points of reference, and were unable to adapt, that is what happened: the second goal came from a vertical pass, we should have stopped the entire thing from happening, to prevent Belotti from receiving the ball. Both goals were the result of poor team work, which in the end punished us beyond how much they should have. It’s impossible to prevent your opponents from having any shots on goal.
“If Paquetá will be available to play tomorrow and what answers have I received in training from players who have not featured yet? Paquetá trained with the team, luckily it wasn’t a muscular injury. Obviously, the players who’ve played less are not happy, but they are working with the right attitude, they are professionals. Obviously, they’d prefer to be playing more.
“How is the team doing physically? The physiological and biological parameters we are studying are very positive. That shows the team has recovered. We have also compared the current data to last season’s data for the players who were here and all data is encouraging.
“If I feel like a scapegoat due to the criticism of the fans? I understand the fans’ feelings. Milan has millions of fans and a glorious history. So I understand the criticism and the upset from the fans. My duty is to continue working hard, trying to improve the performance of the players and the team. And I focus solely on what is my task.
“Gattuso often talked about the importance of how fluid the wings are in a 4-3-3? In Turin, we created a number of good chances. Due to his characteristics, Theo always pushes forward – even when he shouldn’t, in those terms he needs to be disciplined. He’s a very, very skilled player but he needs to acquire balance and become even stronger. Calabria and Conti both also have these abilities, while Ricardo Rodríguez is more rational and more careful without the ball. But both wings develop quite well, but in all circumstances you need balance and you need to be solid defensively. Our second goal conceded was a result of a counter-attack, there are many details that can change the outcome of a game. We need to defend as a team, if we are playing as individual players we can sacrifice three up front, but that is not how we do.
“If I feel that this team is 100 percent mine or if it will take more time to see the real Milan of Giampaolo? I certainly feel that this team follows me. But it is not my team, it is the fans’ team.
“How did Donnarumma react to the criticism? He is highly-professional, with very strong character. I remember he received very harsh criticism in the past as well when he was 17 or 18, but he was able to react with the right spirit and approach. He is a standout player. We are all exposed to criticism, even when we win because we might not be winning convincingly, cleanly… it is a part of our job. And I don’t think any attention should be paid to it, because this is just how the job is.
“I asked the team to play more compactly to reduce mistakes and if I think Çalhanoğlu did it well against Torino? I was happy with Hakan’s performance, he’s a strong player, he knows how to play, and he knows how to link the lines… The good things we did for most of the match in Turin, we need to be able to multiply over the next few games. Over 95 minutes, there are times when you need to dig deep, when you need to work together to hold on tight. That goes for every team. Sometimes you need to defend, other times you need to keep possession more. We need to improve on every aspect but it will all come down to drilling repeatedly.”