Milan, 15 September 2018 – Following Saturday’s 1-0 win against Inter, Coach Roberto D’Aversa had this to say to journalists in the Stadio Meazza press room:

“We knew that they would look to keep the ball and that we’d have to fight, attacking primarily on the counter-attack. The lads carried this tactic out in the best way possible. We needed a bit of luck, but this comes when you play games with maximum determination and sacrifice – which are both important tools for avoiding relegation.

“Everyone was prepared to try and get the win, and this is what I said to the lads, just as I did in yesterday’s press conference. When you go out onto the pitch it should be to win or get the best result possible. So far, the lads had picked up fewer points than they should’ve done. We’ve now been rewarded, it wasn’t easy, but we tried to play when we had the chance. We must work on keeping the ball better after taking the lead. We can improve our satisfaction levels by working on this aspect of our game.

“Gobbi had a problem with his foot during the interval and the substitution was a forced one. It was disappointing because he wanted to finish the game, but it’s also great that a lad like Dimarco scored for the Under-21s and now also bagged the winning goal today. This goes to show that he has trained well during the week and that he’s improving on some aspects of his game, like that of his defensive play. I am really happy for him. When a player is committed despite not receiving much playing time, they often reap the rewards in the end. I hope that this is the start of a great career for him. He has important qualities and he’s physically strong.

“Two years ago we were in Lega Pro, three years ago in Serie D. Over the past three years, this club has achieved something extraordinary. Now, we must keep going to maintain this and remain in the league. For both the experienced players and the younger ones, all new arrivals must understand what has been achieved in the past and now do everything to help us stay up. The city is used to winning European trophies, but let’s also remember the consequences.

Over the last few years, we’ve got used to winning again. However, now we must understand that defeats can happen. We’ll lose some matches, I hope as few as possible, but then look to win against teams more of our level. However, as we’ve shown today, you can then also pick up results against stronger teams. Iacoponi? He missed the friendly against Livorno due to flu. He then had cramp and asked to be substituted. I chose Sierralta because we needed his height. Sepe? We didn’t know if he had a problem with cramp or something else, but then he guaranteed me that he could finish the game. We then made our third change and altered our style of play.

“As regards for defending, we wanted to make them go out wide instead of through the middle, Nainggolan can hurt teams between the lines, also with his long-range shots. We thus tried to stop this by being aggressive and forcing them to play it wide. But that was not the only defensive work we did: the lads were excellent when it came to defending crosses. Gervinho? I didn’t know what his condition was like because he arrived from a different league. I have given him the minutes on the pitch, and what we have to do now is bring him up to 100 percent in terms of being able to play for 90 minutes. At the end of the game he was very tired but he stops the opponent from pushing forward too much because he’s devastating on the counter-attack, and this could be seen as we almost scored a second through him. He still needs to work a bit more, but what’s great about him is his eagerness after such a great career.

“The key to our victory? At the end of the first half, I told the lads that if there was a chance to move up the field they should do so, since there was a risk they would eventually punish us with their quality if we remained in our area. We didn’t start too well in the second half, but we were excellent in terms of not giving them anything. When you consider that for many it was the first time they’ve played here and we only had one point from three games, we’ve done so well to pick up three points. These points are a reward for what we’ve done so far.”