Massimiliano Allegri spoke to the gathered journalists at the Milanello sports centre yesterday ahead of this afternoon’s match between Milan and Atalanta at the San Siro stadium.
MILANELLO – Here’s what Milan’s coach had to say ahead of Milan-Atalanta this afternoon:
“I’d like to pay tribute to Eusebio, one of world football’s greats who made history win the game, and send my condolences to his family. Honda? He’s eager to show what he can do, he’s good for the club. Unfortunately he won’t be available for the Champions League but he’ll play in the league and the Italian cup. He’s a technical player who’ll fill a gap up in attack. He has a lot of personality and the most important thing is that he has a lot of enthusiasm and wants to show his quality in Italian football. Japanese football is one the rise and I remember the contribution that Nakata made to the title winning Roma side. Nagatomo is doing well at Inter and in terms of the characteristics that he has, Honda is a player that we’ve been missing. The number 10 jersey is a heavy one and has always been worn by great players from Rivera to Boban, to Rui Costa, Seedorf and Boateng who was the last one even if he a slightly different kind of player. Honda won’t play tomorrow. We’ll see what kind of shape he’s in in the next few days. I think he’ll be available for selection against Sassuolo. He seems like an intelligent guy who wants to help the team and this is very important.”
“We have to get back winning. We only have 19 points and at the moment we’re closer to the drop zone than the European places. We have to show responsibility and recognize the moment that we’re in. We’re getting players back and now we have Honda and Rami. We have to show different form than we’ve shown in the last few months. We have to understand where we went wrong and improve at both ends of the pitch. We need to show competitiveness tomorrow. We know how tough it’ll be and how much we need the three points.”
“I spoke to Galliani prior to Christmas about the decision to leave the club in June. It’s only in Italy where all the fuss is. Yesterday Bayern Munich announced the arrival of Lewandowski from a rival team and that should become normal in Italy as well. We’re professional and we have to work well to the end of the contract. I’ve had four years here and I thank President Berlusconi, Adriano Galliani and the club for having given me the chance to lead an important team. Now we still have objectives to reach and we have to do everything we can to get back up the table. We have the Italian cup and the Champions League to play in and I have faith that we’ll do well. I want to finish my time here I the best way possible. I don’t know if we’ll be able to get back into contention for the league but that’s what we’re working on. Everyone thinks we’re dead on our feet in the Champions League but I think we’ve a good chance of getting to the next round. But in any case, nothing will change my decision. The club will find the right person to take my place, someone worthy of the club. Seedorf is a very intelligent player and I say that because he’s still playing. Coaching is a different trade but I know the club will choose someone able to get the results that they expect.”
“I still have some doubts about tomorrow’s formation in the centre of defense, in the middle and in attack. Pazzini is getting better but he’s not ready to start yet. Robinho is getting back fit and there’s Saponara who played well in the derby but he hasn’t been training at 100% for the past couple of days. Honda? He can play a position for us that, at the moment, only Birsa can cover. He got injured against Livorno and before that he played a lot of matches after a long time out. Goals conceded? That’s one of my worries and one of the things that I’ve looked at the most. Atalanta? Colantuono is a great coach and he has a well organized team. He’s done well in Bergamo and has great players like Denis, Moralez and Bonaventura. They’re a solid team and they concede very little. We’ll have to be patient.”
“The results speak for themselves. For two years, the club gave me a team to win the league and then things changed. We started again with young players who did well to get into the Champions League. In four years, we always got through the group stages of the Champions League. We got to the quarter finals and we met Barcelona 8 times. Now we’re up against Atletico Madrid on top of the table in Spain but we have a good chance of getting through. I think that Balotelli has grown a lot, he’s important for the club and for the national side. He has room to grow more. He was a starter this season at Milan for the first time in his career and playing a game every three days will be good for him. He’s growing day by day and I see a lot of enthusiasm in him.”
“Galliani comes back today and he’s already done well with Honda and Rami. This team has a great future and with one or two changes, they’ll be fighting for the top three spots next season. Mexes? He had an eye problem before the match against Genoa and he been out because of that. Now though, he’s ready to play.”