Stefano Pioli reveals he was told on Monday that Milan would extend his contract and thanks Ivan Gazidis for ‘being very fair with me’ throughout the Ralf Rangnick negotiations.
It was assumed that Rangnick would take over next season as both coach and director of sport at San Siro, but in a sudden twist this evening, it was announced the Red Bull head of scouting would not be taking on any role and instead Pioli’s contract was extended to June 2022.
“I am very happy. I’d known for a couple of days and getting the chance to lead such a prestigious club from the start, a team that I know has quality and can grow…” Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.
“I am obviously very happy. Our future is now and we must focus on the next three games, as there is much to do, we still have much to give, then we can think of the future from August 3.
“The club has proved itself very fair with me, as in the individual meeting I had, I was told there was no definitive decision yet and a choice would be made based on evaluations near the end of the season.
“I didn’t say I was focused on the present just to say that, I meant it. If we hadn’t got back on the field after the restart, it would’ve been a season of great regret, because even before that we showed signs of what we could do.
“Since the lockdown, we’d be third in the table and are on the same track as Atalanta.”
Much was said about CEO Gazidis seemingly being the one pushing for Rangnick, while Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara were in favour of Pioli.
“I have always spoken to Gazidis, above all Gazidis had a meeting with me the week before the Genoa game, when rumours started to emerge. He guaranteed both to me and to the team in a public meeting that no definitive decisions had been made. There were 12 rounds to go then.
“I had a closer rapport with Maldini and Massara, who are at Milanello every day, but Gazidis has been much more present than in the past, he always expressed his admiration for my work.
“I got the call on Monday that their intention was to confirm me for the next few seasons.”
This development was totally unexpected for the media and evidently the players, because Zlatan Ibrahimovic was told about it by Sky Sport Italia reporters after tonight’s 2-1 win at Sassuolo.
“I did hope it would happen. I hoped. I am happy with the team, the fans, the club. Our work is just at the beginning, this is one of the most prestigious clubs in the world, there is hunger from the team and from me to show what we can do.
“People talk about the future, but there are still three games to go here! We are laying some very strong foundations, there are young players who have already shown their quality and can only get stronger.
“I always felt good here, I never had difficulty or felt negativity towards me. I’ve never coached a big club from the start of the season. I’ve never ‘won’ as it were, but I consider saving a club from relegation to be winning too.
“It was only right that there were some question marks around me, but we are coaches, we are all evaluated based on our results. I above all loved working with the squad, because a coach can tell when players believe in what we’re doing.
“We are going into a very difficult and fascinating match, we’re missing a lot of players, so we’ll do our best on Friday.”
Pioli was asked what he most deserved credit for during this whole complicated campaign?
“I believed in our work, I believed in the quality of this team and its ability to achieve important results. I believed that I could get them to believe in themselves. It was a long process, not an easy one, especially when you don’t start the season together. I think belief was our greatest strength.”
Sky Sport Italia reporter Gianluca Di Marzio points out Pioli received other offers, but even when Rangnick was considered a certainty, he rejected them all to wait for Milan.
“I wanted this. I wanted and hoped for it. I am very, very happy.”
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