Stefano Pioli maintains Milan “are improving and were not afraid” in a 2-1 home defeat to Lazio, but told off Rafael Leao and others for not working as a team.
The Rossoneri had temporarily cancelled out Ciro Immobile’s opener with a Bastos own goal, but Joaquin Correa sprung the offside trap late on to snatch the winner.
It leaves the San Siro giants in 11th place with Udinese, already eight points adrift of the top six.
“In my view, the team is improving. Of course, for the table and the situation, it was important to win, but the performance was there tonight,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“We took a few risks in order to create danger for the opponents, matching them all the way to the end, and I believe we are on the right path now.
“All we can do is keep improving along these lines. I saw a team that fought hard for 95 minutes. I did not see a team that was struggling, afraid or let their heads drop.
“We do still make a lot of mistakes, such as passing when we should keep it, and vice versa, but I saw these players looking anxious and afraid when I arrived. I don’t see that in them now.”
Rafael Leao came off the bench, but his introduction seemed to sap the Rossoneri of possession.
“It’s true, I expected more from him tonight. When coming on, he was meant to give changes of pace, fresh energy, work with the team. He has a lot of potential, but he absolutely has to do more. His contribution tonight was not up to his standards.”
Yet again, Milan paid a heavy price for misplaced passes and some very sloppy defending.
“If you look at the two goals, we had more men in the box on both situations, but we didn’t read the situations properly. These are things we need to work on, be more attentive and react much faster. We were set out and made mistakes.
“Theo Hernandez is a player who can push forward and make a good impact, but we also need balance and to ensure someone is back there to prevent any potential counter-attacks.
“We’ve got to realise that this team has the quality. We might not have great champions, but everyone has quality and we can achieve something if we have the spirit of unity, of collaboration, of working with each other as a team.”
Pioli also revealed some tactical adjustments he made at the back, other than telling Rade Krunic to man-mark Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.
“I moved to three at the back in the second half, as Ante Rebic had to cover Senad Lulic and he did it very well, because Lulic never attacked down that flank.
“What we need to work on and paid for again tonight was preventative marking, covering the passing channels, because we conceded a goal that we should not have conceded.”