Milan manager addressed the Italian media on Friday ahead of Milan’s big home clash with first- placed Juventus. The Rossoneri sit in sixth place with 49 points on the season, while Massimiliano Allegri has the Biaconeri sitting in first with 73 points, six points above Napoli.
Milan are just one point above Sassuolo in seventh. Milan are coming off a bad month of March, which saw M’baye Niang get injured for the remainder of the season, if not for all but the last game. Milan did not win a game in March after their 5-0 Coppa Italia semifinal win over Alessandria. The Rossoneri lost to Sassuolo 2-0, drew Chievo 0-0, drew Lazio 1-1, and lost to Atalanta 2-1. Milan are quickly losing the chance to play in Europe next season, a feat which looked promising when they were on a nine-game unbeaten streak. They now need every win and every point they can get.
Juventus are in the opposite position. They are sitting atop the table, and Max Allegri’s squad need every win and point they can as they hope to stay ahead of Napoli in the standings and bring yet another Scudetto back to Turin.
Here are some of Milan Manager Siniša Mihajlović’s comments to the press ahead of Milan’s match with Juventus at the San Siro, courtesy of acmilan.com.
With his opening comments, he established just how tough this match will be for his squad, and talked about what he expects from his team:
“We’re going to be facing the strongest team in the league in our most testing moment. These type of moments are sink or swim: I am hoping my players do the latter and play with pride. We’re playing for pride, morale and for points in the league table. We want to put in a good performance and have a positive end to the season. I have a lot of respect for Juventus for their desire to win in every match they play. From this point of view, they are a role-model for every team. Technical abilities aren’t enough and you need other qualities to win 4 or 5 titles in succession. We have to start playing again like we did when we strung together a number of positive results. The training retreat has been useful to exchange ideas and talk things out amongst ourselves, as well as to correct our errors. I hope that in addition to a positive result, the team gives a great display and plays with the right attitude.”
He also expressed how much pressure there is for the end of the season and set his expectations:
“I am disappointed that we haven’t been consistent enough this season. We have tried everything to resolve our problems. At one point, I thought we had turned the corner but instead we have lost our way again and I did not expect that. However, there are now 7 games to go in Serie A and then we have the TIM Cup final. We must at least finish sixth in the table and we have to try and win the cup final. They are huge matches in which we have to give absolutely everything we have. The outcome will depend a lot on us and I am confident we have the abilities to beat Juve. I never like to go into the match thinking we cannot win. The pressure is a factor and I want to see how my players react to it. We need to step things up a gear and be consistent with our results. The team’s fitness levels are not a problem, but instead it has been the mental approach and the attitude which have been missing at times.”
He also addressed his future, which has been uncertain in the past weeks:
“Like all coaches, I will be judged on my results. If the team doesn’t perform in the coming matches, then it is only right that the first to pay is the coach. While I am in charge, I will give 100% and try and get the best out of my players. I have given my all and I will try and do what I know how. Niang is different to our other options in attack for the role that he plays for the team, but that is not the only problem. We have been lacking something in terms of attitude and mentality, and in the way we approach matches with the utmost determination and desire to win. The problem therefore isn’t just tied to the absence of Niang. It doesn’t matter who plays or not, the mentality is what counts. I don’t feel like I am the scapegoat. If the team doesn’t play well, I am the first to blame. I am the one that has to pass on certain qualities and if I am not able to do that then it means I have failed.”
In addition, the Serbian mentioned individual players on the squad, including Mario Balotelli, who it was reported Milan will not re-sign this summer:
“Balotelli knows these are his final chances to earn a permanent move. He will have to take every opportunity that comes his way and that applies to the others in the squad too. Each one of my players tries to give their maximum when they play. But at times we haven’t been focused or determined enough this season and that is a fact. Galliani has said that at the moment, Balotelli doesn’t deserve his move to be made permanent. His future depends on him and the club.”
Mihajlovic also opened the door for Manual Locatelli, the 18-year-old midfielder, to get some playing time, if Riccardo Montolivo can not make it:
“If Montolivo doesn’t play tomorrow, then Locatelli will start. I have never had any fear of taking risks. If I see a player that leaves me feeling confident and I like the look of, then I play him. Locatelli has the character to play at this level. He might not be 100% ready, but he has a bright future ahead of him. I hope Montolivo makes it, but Locatelli is ready to step in.”
He also had a couple more comments about the general state of the club and his future:
“Clubs start to plan ahead before the season comes to an end. Clearly, you cannot make future plans with a coach that may or may not be there. To have a top season, you have to start planning immediately. Galliani and I always talk about the game and players. The planning is good at Milan, while in other clubs it is done in a different manner. Galliani and I have clear ideas. Then, we have to see what happens. I am one who never gives up and I am not the type of guy to resign. To ensure you have no regrets, you need to have tried everything and that is a key factor. We know we could have done more. Every coach in the world is judged on his results and the work carried out. I don’t have it in me to say whether I should be kept on or dismissed because it does not depend on me.”