Gennaro Gattuso believes Milan are starting to play the kind of football he wants, discussed Tiemoue Bakayoko’s role and his post-Christmas diet tips.
The Rossoneri knew Lazio, Roma and Atalanta had already won their games, so anything less than a victory would see them slide from fourth to seventh.
However, after a comical Luca Ceppitelli own goal, Lucas Paquetá and Krzysztof Piatek secured the comfortable 3-0 result against Cagliari, setting up Saturday’s fascinating showdown with Atalanta.
“We did well tonight, played good football and could’ve had more goals. I didn’t like the attitude of the midfielders in the first half, as we weren’t taking enough control,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“I’ve liked our performances for a while and said we needed to get both phases right, attacking and defending. We were fortunate today.
“Now it’s about hunger, the desire to work together as a unit. I don’t want to hear ‘I’ from anyone, it’s about ‘us.’ For many years we’ve reached the spring and Milan have been outside the race for the Champions League, but we need to break that trend and fight hard to be in a strong position when the final weeks arrive.
“I expect more from Hakan Calhanoglu, because he has remarkable technique, but then you have to look at how much he runs, the distance he travels and the work-rate. I think he is unfairly maligned, I like the way he interprets that role.
“He’s not a real winger, I know that, but he can unite the midfield with the attack and give a lot of quality to the side.”
Not only are Milan starting to score more regularly, but they are also defending far more effectively and Gianluigi Donnarumma rediscovered his confidence.
“We’re starting to play our way out of the pressing game, which is what I want to see. It’s all about the two phases, defending and attacking, because few teams can afford to just do one or the other. For the last five or six matches, I think we’ve been doing that better.”
Tiemoue Bakayoko has become a key figure now for Milan, but with Lucas Biglia back on the bench for the first time since October, he might be forced to change position.
“If it’s a problem, we’ll resolve it. Biglia has been out for three months and needs time to find his form. Bakayoko is an unusual deep-lying playmaker, as he used to choose the wrong passes, but now he takes men on, can power past people and create chances. We’ll see if we need to use him in a wider midfield role, if there is the requirement.”
When Gattuso was asked if he looked better compared to 2018 because the results had improved, he revealed a slightly different reason.
“People think it’s stress, but that’s not the truth. I look more relaxed now because I started eating less, drinking less and doing more running. I shut my mouth and stopped shovelling things in there.
“When you reach 100kg and are about 1.20m tall, you’ve got to start feeling a little shame. I felt shame and decided to do something about it.”