Tuesday September 12 2017
‘Milan never questioned Montella’

Milan CEO Marco Fassone assures “we never questioned” Coach Vincenzo Montella, despite the 4-1 loss to Lazio.

The Rossoneri were taken over by a Chinese group in April, and it was suggested that they’d look to make a quick change on the bench.

They stuck with Montella, but the heavy defeat in Rome over the weekend once again raised eyebrows.

“We never questioned him, and he’d have stayed even without qualifying for the Europa League,” Fassone insisted, speaking to Corriere dello Sport.

“I really liked how he worked last season, which was characterised by the difficulties in changing ownership. He manages the group really well.

“The loss to Lazio? This is the first down day since the start of the season, but playing again straight away will help us: there won’t be time to shout and make speeches.

“Some doubts came to us, but Montella was right to point out that defeats are part of the growth process, although maybe not ones of this size…

“That’s why when they cut to me in the stand I had that terrible expression! Against Cagliari we didn’t play well but we got the three points. Against Lazio however…”

The Rossoneri are looking to reach the Champions League this season, but Fassone admits there are at least two sides better equipped.

“Juventus and Napoli have something more than all the others because they’re solid and tested. The race has to be run against Inter, Roma and Lazio who seem more in line with our squad.

“If we can grow as a team though we can cause problems for everyone.

“The derby with Inter? Last year they ended up behind us in the table, but Milan have changed a lot. We’ll play without fear, against them and the others.

“In the derby - and even before, in the clash with Roma - we’ll be more ferocious than now.

“I have good memories of my time at Inter, the biggest regret is that last season with [Roberto] Mancini.

“We were flying, then something broke. It’s a pity, because we could have won the league. Roberto is a superstar, and I wish him every success because he deserves it.”

The Diavolo signed Nikola Kalinic just before the transfer deadline, and as has been speculated he was specifically requested by Montella.

“We’re happy with Kalinic,” Fassone said.

“Montella wanted him from the start and we bet on him. We kept the other options open because we didn’t know what Fiorentina would do.

“Leonardo Bonucci? We were going to build a certain type of squad, and in our base idea he wasn’t there.

“At the start of July, Montella and [sporting director Massimiliano] Mirabelli proposed buying Bonucci, as he was a player who would complete our squad. We went straight for him, even if taking him seemed impossible.

“Instead, during our first meeting with [Juventus general manager Beppe] Marotta we found the agreement in half an hour. Leo is a leader, but even he has to settle in.”

Gianluigi Donnarumma’s agent, Mino Raiola, has complained that the 18-year-old was offered the captain’s armband before signing his new contract, with Bonucci eventually taking over as captain…

“I don’t want to cause controversy. I’ll just say that since he’s wedded to our project, we expect that Gigio will become the Milan captain.

“Giving him the armband now would be premature, but if he stays with us we hope…”

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