- 'We have grown as a team, but missed our fans'
- 'Our secret was the work we put in'
- 'Next year, we aim to return to the Champions League.'
Skrill spoke to AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli to hear what it’s been like leading the team during a global pandemic and get his view on where the club is headed. We’re over the moon to be a Premium Partner of AC Milan and we couldn’t wait to find out what the future has in store…
Pioli took over as manager at AC Milan in October last year with the club in 13th place in Serie A.
Almost one year on and the Italian has guided the Rossoneri to a Coppa Italia semi-final and to sixth place in the league, securing Europa League qualification.
Pioli, who won Serie A as a player, now has his sights on a top-four finish next season with the goal of returning AC Milan to their rightful place in the Champions League.
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Q: Stefano, congratulations on signing a new two-year contract with Skrill partners AC Milan. How do you feel your first season at the club has gone?
SP: At the beginning, we had to get to know each other, then slowly we grew up. In 2020, only Atalanta scored more points than us. We lost to Inter after a great first half, and then against Genoa, but in that case it was due to other factors not related to the match. Winning against the teams ranking ahead of us in the table gave us the real boost.
Q: This season will most likely be remembered for the postponement of Serie A and other leagues around the world. How have you found the changes to the matches since it returned and how different actually is it?
SP: The main difference is that unfortunately we played without the supporters at the stadiums and the adrenaline was lacking. This was really sad because the fans are very important to us.
Q: Since Serie A returned in June your team were fully in control – going 13 games unbeaten. What was the secret to this success and how much do you feel the break impacted the players and their performances?
SP: Our secret was the work we put in. We have grown as a team and our self-esteem has increased. During the break, the owners made us feel safe even though the country was facing difficulties due to the Coronavirus.
Q: With only a few weeks until the start of next season, how do you prepare your team mentally and physically for a new campaign?
SP: We are all on holiday. So now, the most important thing is to rest and to recharge our batteries.
Q: On the back of a successful first season, you currently have one of the highest win ratios of any AC Milan manager since Carlo Ancelotti left in 2009. You must be optimistic for the future?
SP: I have great confidence in this team and in that we can improve. We have a solid ownership that is going to support us with targeted choices, and I am also lucky enough to be able to work with very competent and professional people.
Q: After a sixth-place finish in Serie A and reaching the Coppa Italia semi-final, what is the goal for the 2020/2021 season and how will you go about achieving it?
SP: “Our goal is to improve this year’s position in Serie A and to finally return to the UEFA Champions League. It will not be easy to go back to playing in Europe and we will work hard to make our fans happy.”