Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Berlusconi orders Allegri to play his way

AC Milan President Silvio Berlusconi has shown new coach Massimiliano Allegri who the real boss at the club is by demanding his team play with more than one forward this season.

In an extraordinary news conference on the first day of pre-season training at Milanello, the Italian Prime Minister read out a pre-prepared speech and then fielded every question, leaving former Cagliari coach Allegri and several team members to sit there in total silence.

Berlusconi reeled off a succession of gags but he was far from joking when he told his new "movie star" coach what tactics he should use after falling out with last term's coach Leonardo as the Rossoneri again ended the campaign without a trophy.

"To win you have to score goals, we must try to score and to shoot on goal, we must be there in the penalty area, so I prefer to play with two strikers," Berlusconi told a packed press room.

"Leo is a great person, but we had several differences on team selection, [Alexandre] Pato was too sheltered for me out on the wing.

Brazilian Ronaldinho has been linked in the media with a move away but Berlusconi was adamant the playmaker was staying.

"I have not spoken with him, but it is definitely a Rossoneri player and he will remain so," he said. "He will sign a new contract, is by far the best player I've ever seen, we have to find the best position to bring out the best in him.

"I hope to see Dinho in a more central role and one in which he can often get into shooting positions because he has goals in his blood too. I also see him as a support striker."

The futures of restless midfielder Gennaro Gattuso and forward Klaas Jan Huntelaar look less certain however as Milan look to bring in more creativity upfront and inject much-needed youth into the ageing side.

"I would be happy for Gattuso to stay but we are not against people saying they want to leave," Berlusconi added. "We can't exclude (the sale of Huntelaar) even if we are convinced of his qualities as a main striker."

The 73-year-old, who arrived by helicopter, welcomed tacit new signings Mario Yepes, Marco Amelia and Sokratis Papastathopoulos but was lukewarm over Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic possibly coming back to Italy with Milan.

"I don't know how well he'd fit into the Milan dressing room," he said of the former Inter player.

Thousands of fans turned up to see Milan, third in Serie A last term, return to training and many banners were critical of Berlusconi for not investing in the squad like in the past.

The tycoon reckoned the squad could compete with any other but accepted spending had been reined in because of the global economic crisis and said he would not be making "fantasy buys" even if the financial picture was improving.

He again denied he was close to selling the club, saying no one suitable had come forward, but acknowledged that at some stage he would have to let the club go.

"I'm the President of the most successful club in the world. I have been the President of this club for 25 years, one who has won the most. The second behind me is Santiago Bernabeu... and he had a stadium named after him in Madrid.

"I am proud to be the President of a team that is so important at international level but if I met a group or a person who had passion and would be willing to spend what I and my family have spent these years, I would would listen to them. But I haven't found them."

Source: Reuters

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