AC Milan manager: ‘I want pride to come to the fore’

AC Milan have started the new season even worse than their mediocre standard of the recent past, and manager Vincenzo Montella wants to see some fire in his side.
AC Milan players Gabriel Paletta, Riccardo Montolivo, and Alessio Romagnoli react after a goal by Udinese in their last Serie A match. Luca Bruno / AP Photo / September 11, 2016
AC Milan players Gabriel Paletta, Riccardo Montolivo, and Alessio Romagnoli react after a goal by Udinese in their last Serie A match. Luca Bruno / AP Photo / September 11, 2016

AC Milan manager Vincenzo Montella has called for Rossoneri pride to shine through their bleak start to the season when they face his former side Sampdoria on Friday.

Montella’s first season in charge of the seven-time European champions is off to a shaky start with Milan sitting in lowly 15th place following a win and two defeats.

Milan’s last outing – a 1-0 home reverse to Udinese – has underlined the task ahead of Montella as the Serie A giants await the completion of a takeover by Chinese investors before the end of the year.

Montella, who moved from Sampdoria in the close season, will welcome French striker M’Baye Niang back to the fray following his recent suspension, but the former AS Roma striker is counting more on the squad’s collective sense of pride.

“Right now we need the players to show their sense of pride and responsibility,” said Montella, who is reported to have had a training ground showdown with his squad earlier this week.

“No one here is resting on their laurels, because no one in this squad is untouchable.

“But what I don’t want to see in Genoa is the squad allowing itself to be sucked into ball-watching and playing their game. I repeat, I want pride to come to the fore.”

The stronger side though would seem to be Sampdoria, who sit in fifth place, three points behind leaders Juventus following two wins and a loss. Sampdoria will also be hosting Milan at the Luigi Ferraris ground they share with city rivals Genoa.

Montella is hoping the return from suspension of Niang, who hit his first goal of the campaign in a 4-2 defeat to Napoli last month, will pay dividends.

“He’s an important player for us. He still has room for improvement, and there are elements of his game that still need polishing,” he added.

But having spent this week watching Napoli and then Juventus in action in the Champions League, he admits his biggest concern is “showing who we are”.

“I would settle for the Europa League,” quipped Montella when asked if he felt bitter watching the Champions League on television.

“But I’m really not worried right now because I see the squad’s determination to do better. Tomorrow will be the perfect game to show to ourselves who we are.”

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Published: September 16, 2016 04:00 AM

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