Pioli suggests Milan ‘need to do something more’ after drop in form

Stefano Pioli wants his team to get back on track with a win in tomorrow’s match against Empoli.

The Rossoneri have only picked up one point in their last two league outings, with a 1-0 loss to Napoli and 1-1 draw with Udinese allowing Simone Inzaghi’s Inter to gain a four point lead at the top of the Serie A table.

Speaking to gathered reporters in a press conference earlier today, Pioli first discussed the team’s form at this point in the season. ‘I listen to and read many things, some are correct and can help us do better. In the games against Liverpool and Udinese I didn’t like the team, while with Napoli we played a good game.’

He highlighted the strengths of tomorrow’s opponents Empoli, noting that ‘they are a strong opponent, they also beat Juventus. We’ll need great determination against a team that plays good football and is well coached by Andreazzoli. But we also have the cards to hurt Empoli, it will depend on us.’

The Milan coach wants his team to bounce back from their loss to Napoli with a win against the Tuscan side tomorrow. ‘When results don’t come it’s right to be less calm, but also more determined.

‘We have to think about tomorrow’s game, we want to get back on track after a home defeat. We wanted to score more points in the first half of the season than we did last year. It won’t be possible, but we want the three points tomorrow.’

Pioli commented on the criticisms laid against his team in recent weeks. ‘I read little, but some things are useful to improve. Against Napoli, Milan played a good match. We make mistakes that are not allowing us to get results, clearly we need to do something more. We need more quality.’

He did not think that the Rossoneri’s recent drop in form was due to fatigue. ‘When you win you run less than your opponents, when you lose you run more. What counts is the quality of the game, not how much you run.’

The Milan coach looked back to his team’s strong performance against Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. ‘Against Atletico it was one of our best games, we touched important peaks of quality. We were missing a lot of players there too. We’re lacking a bit in the fluidity of the movements and in the last 30 metres.’

Pioli was still unhappy with Franck Kessie’s disallowed goal against Napoli, which was cancelled out after a VAR check. ‘The interpretation of the rule isn’t correct. The club is making its voice heard in the right places, it’s useless to do it publicly. Kessie’s goal, in the dynamics of football, cannot be cancelled out, Giroud cannot be offside. We want to help football.’

The Italian coach commented on the injury crisis currently plaguing the squad and when he expects things to improve, saying ‘we have raised the level of prevention and recovery. The number of muscle injuries in November was too high and in the long run you can pay for it.

‘We are overcoming the problem and will overcome it after the Christmas break. In the second half of the season we need to score more points. If we win tomorrow we’ll have 42 points in the first half of the season, which would be a good haul.’

He looked ahead to next month’s transfer window. ‘The level of the league is high, there are a lot of teams that can have long winning streaks. We are one of those teams. We have to aim for six, seven or 10 wins in a row.

‘We have to play our football, hoping that in 2022 all my players will be healthy. Regarding the market, the club has always done well in January. If we can improve the squad we will do so.’ He noted.

Pioli commented on the fact that some teams no longer put a player on the near post for corners. ‘We keep one there if the opponent whips it in, otherwise not. Other teams never do.’

The Rossoneri coach is prepared for a tough match against Empoli tomorrow. ‘I expect a mobile team. They are the only team that plays with a rhombus shape in midfield. We have prepared for them well. Empoli’s players are well trained and do the right things.’

He noted how problematic the current injury crisis is, noting that ‘some aspects can’t be conjured from nothing. Players like Leao, Rebic and Theo know how to skip past a man, but the fundamental thing is the team organisation.’

He spoke about midfielders Franck Kessie and Sandro Tonali. ‘We often change positions in defence and in the build-up phase. A lot also depends on the opponents. We should sometimes be quicker in passing, I don’t like to pass the ball around too much. Obviously it also depends on the opponents, but we can and must do better.’

Finally, Pioli touched on whether Junior Messias was better suited to playing wide or more central. ‘At the moment he’s playing very wide to have the chance to do more one-on-ones. He is a player who if he plays more inside the pitch can do well, it depends on the game.’ He concluded.

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