Thursday December 13 2018
Gattuso: 'Milan gifted the game'

Gennaro Gattuso blamed his own players for Milan’s Europa League exit to Olympiacos. “If you fall apart when something goes wrong, you deserve to go out.”

The Rossoneri could’ve afforded to lose here 1-0 or 2-1, but the 3-1 result in Athens decided by a very controversial penalty proved their undoing.

It’s the first time since 1999-00 that Milan have failed to get out of the group phase in a European tournament.

“There is a great deal of disappointment. We must first of all not forget the millions of Milan fans out there,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.

“We had the game in hand, but when creating eight scoring opportunities in a stadium like this and then falling apart the moment things go wrong, you deserve to go out.

“We’ve shown we are still not good enough to get the game on track when we have the chance. It’s true, there were some debatable refereeing decisions, but if you create eight chances in this atmosphere and then after the first sign of difficulty you start making stupid mistakes, it’s only right we go home, because we don’t deserve to go further. We gifted the game.

“We mustn’t allow the opponents into the game and I think at the moment that lack of experience is the main problem for us.

“We’ve got to get out there with determination, with fire. Hakan Calhanoglu and Samu Castillejo went into the penalty area a couple of times, but with no determination.

“We gifted the game, there are no excuses and we have to take the responsibility. OK, you can talk about them throwing extra balls on to the pitch and the weird trumpet noise, but we should focus on what we can do to make Milan a better team.

“It’s a difficult atmosphere, but that mustn’t be an excuse. The referee penalised us too, but we could’ve won it anyway. We often look like we do things without much belief, as if we don’t want to hurt the opposition.

“We were only struggling on set plays, as they have very tall players, but to go out to Olympiacos like this is really irritating. We are stronger than this Olympiacos side and I remain convinced of that.

“Passing smartly is all well and good, but it’s meaningless without heart. Last season too against Arsenal, there were errors from the referee, but we made the same mistakes too.

“We are left with regrets, I am furious because we could’ve been stronger even than all the incidents and emerged with qualification.

“Olympiacos never really troubled us until we fell asleep on the first corner. That is what I can’t understand. It’s like seeing a team that didn’t prepare at all. It drives me crazy, as I spend hours drilling them on set play routines and they huff at me for taking too long over it, but evidently I need to do it even more.

“This defeat is really difficult to swallow. I’m struggling.”

Bologna are up next in Serie A, as Milan try to hang on to fourth place.

“We’ve got to analyse the game and understand why we lost, not act like victims. The team played with quality, but conceded three goals and it highlighted where we are lacking at the moment, which is that we’re naïve, concede goals because we’re not concentrated and we have to work on these areas.

“It hurts, there’s no point denying it. It hurts.”