“WINNING OBJECTIVE,” AC Milan Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic

Mihajlovic is aiming for 3 points from Milan’s Serie A opener in Florence.

(IN THE PHOTO: Saturday’s press conference at Milanello)

MILANELLO – Sinisa Mihajlovic faced the press on the eve of the rossoneri’s Serie A opener away at Fiorentina on Sunday. The Milan coach was joined by the club captain Riccardo Montolivo and vice-captain Nigel De Jong for the pre MATCH press conference which took place after the team’s morning training SESSION at Milanello.

Opening comments: “Sunday’s match will certainly live long in the memory. This morning, I spoke to Arrigo Sacchi and he reminded me that his first match in charge of Milan was also away at Fiorentina. The fixture list has given us a strong opponent at a tough ground, but it’s better this way I think and at least we can show what we’re capable of. Fiorentina will want to pick up all 3 points, but we also want to win. They have changed their coach and they have lots of young players. Our only objective tomorrow is to win and we have to give a good and complete performance.”

The coach CONTINUED: “I want to point out that I never said that I only focus on the result and not the performance. Milan’s history is characterised by results through good performances. A team has to take to the pitch with clear ideas of what it needs to do. Against Perugia, we played well and we were clinical in front of goal. I am a former Fiorentina coach and I THANK them for having given me the chance to coach there. It was a tough period, but it helped me to develop.”

The rossoneri are in good shape ahead of the new Serie A season: “I believe that we’re on the right path. There will be tough moments, but we must always come off the pitch with our heads held high knowing that we have given everything. We know we can do better and we will improve. I am happy that the players are starting to develop an attacking mentality. I am confident and we have prepared well for the match. As for me, well, I always try to improve and I believe that I am fair, sincere and direct. I like being this way. It’s true that I expect respect, but I also give it. As a coach I try and stay up to date and improve; you never stop learning.”

Mihajlovic was tight lipped over the line-up and believes the squad are confident going into the match: “It could be similar to the one that started against Perugia (in the TIM Cup, editor’s note). The pre-season results have been good for us, but we must always look forwards with our mentality and win. The squad have regained self-confidence and belief. The objective is to finish amongst the top-three in Serie A. We need to have a great season. If we have a good start, then we can do well. We always TRAIN to improve and not only to prepare for our next opponents. I won’t settle for third place yet because there is still a whole season to play for, we will see what happens. I won’t comment on the transfer market. We will see what happens. My team choices are based on who gives me the greater guarantees. Not everyone is in form at the same time.”

Closing comments from the coach and a focus on some individual players: “The players have been behind me right from the first moment and the mentality has changed a bit. I haven’t had any problems which is also thanks to the players’ commitment. We have had very few injuries up until now. No one should believe he is a PERMANENT feature in the starting line-up. De Jong plays in front of the defence, just like Montolivo, and they are two important players that I am relying on. We must be organized and believe in what we do. Ely and Calabria have surprised me a lot seeing as I did not know them before. When I speak about the defensive phase, I am referring to the whole team. It’s everybody’s job to ensure we do well in defence. Bacca and Luiz Adriano are important players, but we have to put them in a position to play well through our organization.”

Riccardo Montolivo is determined to have a good season after injury problems: “For me, it will be a big year. I am coming off the back of a tough year. I am very motivated and I have a big desire to show what I am capable of. I am pleased that I have been able to train without any problems. I want to regain my match fitness. I think the team that wants it more tomorrow will WIN the match. Technique and tactics won’t be enough. Fiorentina are a strong side and it will be a good test for us to start off on the right foot.”

Nigel De Jong added the following: “I am happy to have stayed here at Milan. I believe in the project. There have been lots of changes, including the coach. I want us to get back into Europe. This season we have a more competitive squad and so we also have to improve with our performances. As we have often said, we’re Milan and we take to the pitch to win. Carlos Bacca is one of the best players in the world, but I also have confidence in the rest of my team-mates like Luiz Adriano, Bertolacci, Romagnoli.”