Carlo Ancelotti calls Gennaro Gattuso “the soul of my Milan” and is not surprised at his success. “The lads would walk into the fire for him.”
There were so many doubts surrounding Gattuso when he was handed his debut Serie A management job, promoted from the Primavera youth team, to replace Vincenzo Montella in November.
Yet he has transformed the side and they are on a run of seven wins and three draws in all competition.
“To be honest, I hoped Gattuso would do well, but I wasn’t certain,” Ancelotti told La Gazzetta dello Sport. You can read the rest of the interview here.
“When you come in mid-season, there are always unknown quantities, doubts and obstacles to overcome. Rino did well to dribble the difficulties and have the players follow him.
“At the end of the day, if you are credible in the eyes of the players, then you can achieve any result. I see Gattuso as a real commander. He has the group in hand, the lads would walk into the fire for him, and that aspect is decisive in football and generally in life.
“Gattuso is the soul of Milan and the players put their knowledge and energy at the disposal of the team to reach success. This is the right path.
“I watch all the Milan games, after all I am an old romantic, and when we win, I celebrate like I used to.”
Ancelotti did have some advice for Rino after a bizarre incident during the victory over Sampdoria.
“The only thing that Gattuso got wrong was being unable to fix the linesman’s flag with the Sellotape… for the rest, he got everything right!
“In a short space of time, he managed to create the right alchemy. It can take months or years, but Rino took about a month. He had the advantage of already being part of Milan, of knowing the history of this club. There’s no corner of Milanello that has secrets for him.
“Rino was a pillar of my Milan, which had a precise philosophy of football and management. Now, with great wisdom, he is trying to bring those values back to the centre of the project.
“You can only go far if the club, the team and the fans are a single unit marching in the same direction. When there are gaps at the seams, the results don’t arrive.”
The biggest accusation aimed at Gattuso is that, as he was in his playing days, he’s all grit and determination, but no skill or finesse.
“If someone played as a midfielder and made grit his main strength, that doesn’t mean he necessarily has to continue the same approach as a tactician. Otherwise what would a former goalkeeper do, put 11 men in goal?
“Unfortunately, football lives on stereotypes and clichés. Gattuso growled when he was a player, therefore he must growl when coaching. Rino studied, he worked hard, went up through the ranks and dealt with disappointment. Now, seeing as he has the players to allow it, he is proposing the kind of football he likes. It’s based on possession, balance, trying to make the fans enjoy it.
“I will admit, I can see my Milan’s concepts reflected in Rino’s team. The players aren’t the same, but you can’t have everything in life…”
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