Milan Coach Gennaro Gattuso admits Gonzalo Higuain “really struggled to deal with this negative period, but hopefully has broken through that mental block.”
Andrea Petagna had given SPAL the lead at San Siro, but Samu Castillejo and Higuain turned it around, plus a last-gasp Gianluigi Donnarumma save on Mohamed Fares for the 2-1 result.
“I liked the team performance a great deal, both technically and tactically. I liked the mentality of the side, that knew how to suffer,” the Coach told DAZN.
“We could’ve killed it off earlier and must continue to improve. We’ve had to deal with all sorts of things this year. Now we go to Doha without Suso for the Italian Super Cup, one of our most important players, but I don’t want any alibis.
“We had two big games in December that we didn’t make the most of, but we’ve just got to lick our wounds and keep going.”
Perhaps even more important than the victory was Higuain breaking his two-month goal drought.
“He lives for the goal, has always been a marksman and therefore really struggled to deal with this negative period. The defeat to Juventus, with the penalty and red card, was a terrible blow for him.
“Higuain needs to rediscover that consistency and precision in his finishing, because he has always had those elements. We’ve missed him and hope this has also broken through that mental block.”
The result does seem to have saved Gattuso’s job too, as anything less than victory might’ve seen him fired.
“The Milan jersey and history of this club naturally means people expect more, including the club owners, Leonardo and Paolo Maldini too.
“This team can give more, even if we have many young players who need to gain experience. Every time we look as if we’re ready to make the step up to the next level, we fall down, and that’s where we have to improve.
“We also have to deal with players who can make mistakes and the San Siro crowd does not let anything go, but remember this is a tough league.
“All I can bring is honesty. We look each other in the eyes with respect and clarity every day, as those are the elements we need to sort things out.”