Gennaro Gattuso has sparked a fire in AC Milan. Unbeaten in 12 games with five wins in a row, the Italian coach has transformed the demoralised squad he took over three months ago from Vincenzo Montella.
Sunday’s 2-0 win against AS Roma in the Stadio Olympico was an important one, against a direct European rival which allows AC Milan to dream even of Champions League qualification.
Gattuso’s side are just seven points adrift of the last spot for the elite European competition. When he took over fourth place was 11 points away.
“At the end of the match I congratulated the group, but I also said that we have to keep our feet on the ground,” said 2006 World Cup winner Gattuso whose appointment last November raised eyebrows.
In Gattuso, the Chinese-owned club — who spent 230 million euros ($270 million) in last summer’s transfer market — turned to a member of one of their most successful sides, but one with little coaching pedigree who was training Milan’s youth team at the time of his appointment.
But the former defensive midfielder, who also spent a season at Scottish club Rangers during his playing career, has proved an astute choice and wants to seize his chance.
“I need to thank (directors Marco) Fassone, (Massimiliano) Mirabelli and (owner) Mr Li (Yonghong) for the opportunity they gave me. I love Milan and they are my priority. It’s like a family for me,” said the 40-year-old after Sunday’s win.
“A beautiful relationship was born between me and these guys.”