Sinisa Mihajlovic said Milan can aim higher than top three with two new buys and sniped at Pippo Inzaghi. “I brought back desire to work.”
The new Coach sat down with La Gazzetta dello Sport for a lengthy interview after the tour of China, which saw them beat Inter 1-0 and lose to Real Madrid on penalties.
“So far it’s positive because we started from scratch changing players, tactics and our working methods. We are putting the right elements in the right places with regards to style of football and behaviour. We have taken the right path and will be ready when the games that really matter come along.
“I don’t feel the pressure, as if anything I relish more responsibility and bring the best out of myself. I am not afraid to take risks and face certain challenges. I live to face and win them.
“Our main objective is to finish in the top three, but with the squad we’ve got, if we are able to sign another two players then we could aim even higher. I won’t name names…”
The primary targets are Roma defender Alessio Romagnoli and Paris Saint-Germain hitman Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Mihajlovic explained his working methods and why he often delegates tactical issues to assistant Emilio De Leo.
“I am not so presumptuous as to assume I can do everything better than anyone else. Having a great staff improves me and the team. I learned certain things when I travelled to study Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger.
“There are some training sessions when the Head Coach needs to be present and others when the collaborators should be given space. Klopp had a very good assistant who told me ‘he’s the best Coach in the world, but he could never do my work.’
“I want my staff to feel happy, so for example I leave all the fitness work to Bovenzi. In our group everyone knows what they need to do and relish responsibility.”
Mihajlovic is known as a very tough task-master in training and discussed his approach.
“In every situation the players must know what they are supposed to be doing. I will never get angry for a missed goal, but I would be furious if they don’t do what we agreed. When players step on to the pitch, 80 per cent of what they do is agreed beforehand and the other 20 per cent is adapting to the opponent.
“In moments of difficulty, you mustn’t lose your heads, but follow the principles of the football. We must be organised and know what we want.
“The strikers must be the first defenders, tracking back to midfield and sacrificing themselves. After the centre-circle, the others can take care of it.”
Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano are both new to Serie A, so can they co-exist?
“Great players speak the same language and understand each other. The only problems emerge when one is great and the other poor, but we don’t have that issue. They know the movements to follow, but are also free to express their talent and seek alternative solutions.”
Sinisa had harsh words for predecessor Inzaghi when talking about his training methods.
“The fundamental thing was bringing back the desire to work in these players. Anyone at Milan must give their all and leave the pitch with heads held high. It is their duty. That’s easy to say, less to do.
“When I played, my national team was full of talent, but we never won anything because everyone just did what they wanted. I am here to help these players understand that mistake before it’s too late. Talent will never beat rules. The right behaviour leads to victory, the wrong to defeat.
“Above all, if I demand respect and fairness, I must be the first to give that to my players too. So far I really can’t complain about their training.
“Nobody must feel they are first team picks and those who don’t play regularly have to make life difficult for me in training or the small portions of a game. If they want to talk to me, my door is always open. I have no problems, but I treat everyone equally.”
Milan make their season debut away to Fiorentina, a familiar stadium for Mihajlovic.
“Perhaps it’s better, as we certainly can’t underestimate that game. That will never happen anyway, not on my watch. The opening fixtures are always a mystery, so it’s better to focus on work.”