Stefano Pioli maintains Milan ‘showed we were up to the task’ against Napoli in a 2-2 draw, explains defending on the equaliser and insists his future is ‘out of my control.’
The Rossoneri continued their impressive form, having just beaten Lazio and Juventus, fighting back to grab a point at the Stadio San Paolo.
Theo Hernandez had given them the early lead, turned around by Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Dries Mertens, but Franck Kessie converted a penalty earned by Giacomo Bonaventura for 2-2.
“It was tough, really tough, as after Lazio and Juventus, we’ve had a really difficult run of games against the best teams in the league, but we showed that we were up to the task,” the coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“When you get results and put in strong performances against this kind of opponent, it really boosts your confidence. We scored a great goal to take the lead, we fought back to equalise and a point is a good result.”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was visibly furious when he was substituted just moments after Napoli took the lead.
“Ibra was angry because we were losing, we’d just conceded a goal and he always expects the best from himself and others.”
Paolo Maldini said Milan have improved since the restart because Pioli, who took over from Marco Giampaolo in October, finally had some intensive training time during the lockdown.
“It takes time to get a team working in a smooth way and with everyone aware of what they need to do. We didn’t have the time to achieve that, now we have and the results are positive, so it’s only right that we now raise the bar and keep aiming higher,” agreed Pioli.
“It’s difficult playing every three days, as I had some players at the final whistle tonight who were just wrecked. We’ve got to keep going. Naturally, there are going to be some changes on Wednesday, as we know there are players who have kept us afloat this far and they need to rest.”
The Di Lorenzo goal was a tap-in, because Milan were defending the Lorenzo Insigne free kick so deep that Gianluigi Donnarumma couldn’t see the ball until the last second.
“It’s true that we take some risks by defending so deep, but it’s a calculated risk and this may well be the first goal we’ve conceded in these situations. There are dangers and advantages to both approaches, we should’ve been more careful in covering the space.”
Pioli was asked yet again not about his future, because Ralf Rangnick is now expected to take over next season, but rather if he felt it unfair?
“Everyone asks me that, but I am not thinking about the future. I am at a big club, I am training players who are doing so much and the decisions will be made in August.
“It’s too important to focus now on ending the season on a high note. It’s tough for coaches too with a game every three days, so I cannot be wasting energy on something that is frankly out of my control.
“I prefer to focus on what I can control, so training these lads and preparing for the games.”
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