Gennaro Gattuso warns “Inter aren’t dead and buried, as recent form doesn’t exist in the derby,” while giving tips on Milan man-management.
“Every derby has its own story. We mustn’t think about the meeting earlier this season, because it will be different,” said the Coach in his Press conference.
“Over the last five days all I’ve heard is that Inter are dead and buried, but recent form doesn’t exist in the derby. We need to respect our opponents, use our heads, show heart, intelligence and determination.
“The packed San Siro crowd must be our 12th man, but we respect Inter because they have champions in their squad and can cause us problems.
“We’ve got to escape their pressing game, as in October they never let us breathe by blocking our passing. It’ll be the same thing tomorrow, so I want a different attitude and more courage.
“There is a lot at stake, but it’s ultimately still only three points up for grabs. I am more worried by what could happen on a psychological level if things were to go badly. A win would give us a mental boost, but I’d need to work on the lads if we lost. It’s an important stepping stone in our journey.”
There are reports Gattuso could drop Tiemoue Bakayoko in favour of the more creative Lucas Biglia in midfield.
“You’ll see tomorrow…” was his reply.
Krzysztof Piatek is on sparkling form and hopes to make his mark in his first Derby della Madonnina.
“The difference has to be made by the collective, not just him. I’ve seen very few players in my lifetime who can win a game by themselves. We are not in that situation, so any victory comes through the team.
“I don’t talk to Piatek much, as he’s not one for chatting. He’s starting to smile a bit more now, as for the first few days I thought he was angry with me! He likes to work hard, comes in for training even on days off, and he knows what he’s doing.”
When the two city rivals met in October, Inter were flying high and a win put them four points clear of their rivals, but the situation has now been reversed.
“I didn’t expect to reach this derby in front of Inter, but we also mustn’t forget the seven games when we played in a completely different way. We conceded for 13 consecutive matches and that suffering helped us to grow.
“We’ve got to give our all to reach the Champions League and focus on the derby, so don’t even ask me about second place and Napoli.”
Gattuso was asked how he had adjusted the Milan problems, like a tailor fitting the suit to his players.
“I don’t see myself as a tailor, as I still leave some sleeves too long, get the pleating all wrong. I’m improving, but am not a tailor yet. I always thought the Coach has only a 30-40 per cent impact on his team, then the rest is down to the discipline of the players. They deserve the credit.
“After the 2-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid, people treated Max Allegri like he was incompetent, now these same folks have eaten their words. It’s part of the job and we know that. We just have to keep going and realise we’re in a privileged position to do a job we love.
“As a Coach, I don’t need to make my voice heard before a derby. As a player, I was fired up anyway and I’m the same as a Coach. No shouting, no getting them pumped up, because the nervous energy is already there.
“We’ve already had our fair share of embarrassments this season, going out of the Europa League and risking defeat to Dudelange.
“This must be our strength, that we’ve learned not to fall into the trap of assuming a game is easy. We prepare for this match with humility, realising Inter can hurt us at any moment. There are no favourites in a derby.