Thursday July 16 2020
Pioli: 'Milan reaping rewards now'

Stefano Pioli insists there’s no secret to Milan turning their season around and admits he had problems with Franck Kessie at first. ‘We’re reaping the rewards of working together for six months.’

The Rossoneri keep on registering results, fighting back from a goal down to beat Parma 3-1, allowing them to catch Napoli in sixth place on 53 points.

“It was a complicated game, as we knew of the difficulties in facing a Parma side who clam up and go on the counter,” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

“We created numerous chances in the first half too, but weren’t sharp enough to finish them. It was a great reaction after the break. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was angry with himself for not scoring, but we know that is his strength, that fire that keeps him demanding the best from himself and others. He becomes a lion on the pitch and that anger is positive.”

Kessie scored with a spectacular long-range strike and has become a key figure in that Milan midfield.

“Franck and I had some difficulties in our relationship at the start,” confessed the coach. “Once we understood each other, it was totally different. He is proving himself to be a player at the highest level, as he brings presence and quality during tough moments of the match.

“The mental strength of the team has improved so much, as they are now aware of their capabilities. They try to be balanced and continually dangerous going forward.”

Despite his remarkable turnaround of their campaign, Pioli knows he will be replaced by Ralf Rangnick next season. What changed since the restart?

“You cannot expect a new coach and relatively new team to immediately be consistent. We had shown signs even before the lockdown, now we are reaping the rewards of the six months working together.

“I want to enjoy my time working with this wonderful team, as they are a pleasure to coach.”

Pioli took the Milan job in October, as Marco Giampaolo was fired just seven rounds into the season.

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