Scaroni from New York guarantees: “Trust intact”. The club is sure of fourth place, and is happy with the coach’s work
In the good and bad luck. In the bad, especially. Milan renewed Stefano Pioli’s contract after losing away to Toro and gave him public confidence in this strange March, in which Milan qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League but never won a match. President Scaroni used clear words about his coach two days ago: “Our trust in Pioli is intact. We are convinced that he is the right coach to lead us to qualification for the Champions League for next season. Everything that will come in more is certainly welcome”. In short, the club is sure that Pioli will reach fourth place and certainly does not consider him the main culprit for the seasonal mistakes. The will to continue together, net of the always possible unexpected events in football, is not lacking.
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Scaroni’s three sentences reflect an idea of ownership rooted in the months. Milan appreciate Pioli for the work done on the pitch… and God forbid. SP arrived in 2019, took a roller coaster ride – that time in Bergamo, a steep descent – and along the way brought a historic Scudetto. Pioli won in his own way, indeed, he discovered his own way of winning: he taught an ambitious football, taking something from Gasperini, something from European football, something from his past as a coach from the ranks. Much beyond this, Milan appreciates Pioli for his style, because he is serious, works hard and complains little, in defeats he knows how to be self-critical, without slipping into accusations against the club, the players or the referees. Next season is far away and much is still to be written, but the signal has been sent: Milan, in this double Champions League sprint, starts with its coach. The moment relations sensationally break up – ready, Bayern? – Milan are close to Pioli as and more than ever.
The double Champions League sprint is also the key to writing an assessment of Stefano Pioli’s fourth AC Milan season from Parma. “I consider the quarter-finals of the Champions League one of the two goals of the season, the other being obviously qualification for next year’s Cup,” Scaroni said on Saturday. Yesterday instead, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, he added: “Thanks to the positive messages of football, we know we can have an impact on billions of fans, especially the younger ones. In the last 20 years, Fondazione Milan has produced around 200 projects, not only in Milan, our home, but also in places like Calcutta, Nairobi, Rio and Ukraine”. For that speech on Milan’s goals, the hearts of the fans beat for the first, the 2022-23 Champions League, but financially the center of the world is the second: these days, staying in the first four places is the basis of a club’s accounts . For Pioli, adding fourth (place) to the quarterfinals (of the Champions League) would be the ideal way to honor the contract signed until 2025.
Anyone who remembers those days of renewal knows that in the contract there is a bonus for winning the Champions League, which at the time seemed folksy and now… a little less. Pioli, for the glory and not for the money, will try and the week that awaits him is not trivial. At the end of the straight is the first of three matches with Napoli. In this week, Pioli has to make non-trivial decisions. The tactics: the return to the back four, in Naples or against Empoli, is expected. The hearts to load: Leao, on the bench also yesterday in Luxembourg (but then scored), must start again with a different focus. The choices: Milan now really use no more than 14-15 players, broaden the rotations to 20-21 but regularly leave a large part of their 30-player squad on the bench.
What will he do
In the most difficult moment, Pioli drew from his own history, rather than from that of Milan: three-man defence. In this other critical phase, it is probable that he will return to the heart of the Scudetto team. He will look for intensity and a high pace, because Napoli, if you don’t beat the drums, you won’t beat them. He will ask Calabria for a hand, who is better and is the captain. And he will rely on the Krunics, more than on the De Ketelaere and the Adli. The past is present, as on the day of his signing with Milan, in which Pioli thought of his father Pasquino and the teachings of a “working, honest and generous” parent. Not by chance, they are the same values that Milan appreciate in him.
March 27, 2023 (change March 27, 2023 | 09:47)
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