Monday, 1 June 2009

Leonardo promises attacking style for Milan

New AC Milan coach Leonardo said that he wants his team to play open, attacking football as they seek a return to the top of the game.

Adriano Galliani & LeonardoLeonardo was presented as the new Milan coach just a day after Carlo Ancelotti parted company before filling the vacant post at English Premier League club Chelsea.

The 39-year-old, who has no coaching experience, has been working as a technical director at Milan and will officially start his new job on July 1 after signing a two-year contract.

"Today for me is an absolutely special day, the start of a new adventure," he told a packed media gathering at the San Siro. "I dreamt of becoming a player, but I would have never thought of being a coach.

"I have the idea of players training with the ball more, to have a team that is quick with the ball. The style of Milan, the philosophy goes on. 4-3-1-2, this is our identity, but it can change. I want to play in an attacking, entertaining way."

Spanish giant Barcelona's success this term, winning an unprecedented Spanish treble, in 38-year-old Pep Guardiola's first season has raised expectations that novice Leonardo can do something similar at the San Siro.

"Today it's normal to talk about Barcelona seeing what has happened this year," he said in perfect Italian, one of the five languages he speaks.

"My style won't be based on someone else, it will be my own style," the Brazilian added.

Leonardo has two immediate priorities, keeping hold of Real Madrid target Rickardo Kaka and getting the best out of Ronaldinho after an average first season with the Rossoneri.

"Kaka, like many other big players, will be courted by many great clubs. I don't see that as strange," he said. "Definitely it's important that we keep him here with us. He is a big reference point for the team.

"I see in Ronaldinho a huge desire to rediscover his best form."

Transfer plans will be decided shortly but Leonardo, who said he held the relevant coaching badges despite reports otherwise, jokingly gave a short list of targets.

"The players I have asked for are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo," he smiled.

Marco van Basten, Frank Rijkaard and Massimiliano Allegri were all linked to take the job this summer but rumours that Leonardo would take over from Ancelotti first surfaced in January when he admitted he would "one day" like to coach Milan or Brazil.

"That was just something I said that day," explained Leonardo. "It was not my intention six months ago to replace Carlo. I am very close to Carlo because of these six years spent as a technical director with him.

"Only afterwards did it start to develop bit by bit in a certain way. But the most important thing is that the decision was made together. It would have been impossible to end on bad terms with Carlo and then start my own adventure."

The club's vice-President Adriano Galliani said it was hard to come to terms with Ancelotti's departure after eight years but was confident long-term friend Leonardo could prosper like England coach Fabio Capello did as a rookie at Milan in the early 1990s.

"This club has got very little wrong with its choice of coach down the years," he said. "I remember in 1991, when Arrigo Sacchi's term came to an end after four years, we had to listen to all sorts of stories about Capello.

"He went on to win four titles in five years and we played in three consecutive European Cup finals.

"We are sure that Leonardo will do well. He is an intelligent person and knows how to maintain a relationship with the players.

"The choice of Leonardo as coach was taken by everybody at the club, not just by myself or the President Silvio Berlusconi."

Galliani revealed several players were reduced to tears when they heard Ancelotti was leaving, with the announcement made just minutes after the win in Florence on Sunday afternoon.

"I want to thank Carlo Ancelotti for these marvellous eight years which we spent together," Galliani said. "They were eight important years with regards to the footballing aspect during which Milan won five international trophies and three trophies in Italy.

"My relationship with Carlo has been more as a friend than as a manager and to see him holding a Chelsea shirt this morning has left its mark on me.

"I am still in a bit of shock after with the emotion of the game and then in the dressing room. I spoke first and thanked him and remembered these eight years and a lot of players were crying."

Galliani continued: "I don't think there are any clubs who have ended their relationship with a coach and then, that same night, gone out for a meal together.

"Carlo and Leonardo, together with Ariedo Braida and myself, went out to eat together and we spoke about the Milan team for the future. It was a really pleasant evening."

Source: Various

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