Referee Cakir 'certainly not the best on the pitch', says frustrated Milan boss Pioli

By Sports Desk September 28, 2021

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli was left frustrated that key decisions went against his side in their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid.

The Rossoneri were deservedly ahead through Rafael Leao after 20 minutes at San Siro before Franck Kessie received a second yellow card for catching Marcos Llorente on the foot.

The home side survived until the 84th minute when substitute Antoine Griezmann swept home a fine first-time finish to level the scores on Tuesday.

Then, deep into injury time, referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty against Pierre Kalulu for handball, allowing Luis Suarez to net the 97th-minute winner.

"More than anger, there's disappointment. We were close to an important result," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"At 11 versus 11, we played much better. It's a shame because a little more attention was needed for the first goal. The boys made an important effort and losing complicates qualification for us.

"We're still missing that piece that can make the difference. We're not missing much. We played great football for half an hour, [and] we suffered when outnumbered. It's a performance that must give us confidence."

He added on the Kessie red card: "Franck had already been booked. It didn't look like a second-yellow offence in the 30th minute of the first half. The referee was certainly not the best on the pitch tonight."

The result put Atleti two points behind group leaders Liverpool and four clear of Milan, who lost to Jurgen Klopp's side on matchday one.

Diego Simeone admitted Atletico had been second best until Kessie's dismissal changed the course of the contest.

"In the first 30 minutes, they put us under pressure and we didn't have the tools to get out," he told reporters.

"Then, they were left with a man down and the game changed from there. We managed to impose ourselves in the second half.

"We have great room for improvement. We need to find that consistency in creating play and doing the right actions."

Related items

  • Fix the defence and accommodate Ronaldo – five problems for Rangnick to solve at Man Utd Fix the defence and accommodate Ronaldo – five problems for Rangnick to solve at Man Utd

    Manchester United have broken with modern tradition and made a footballing decision that everyone seems to think is a good one.

    The appointment of Ralf Rangnick as interim manager until the end of the season was confirmed on Monday, a day after caretaker Michael Carrick managed a creditable 1-1 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    While he hasn't been a coach for the best part of three years, Rangnick's legacy in the Bundesliga and his influence on some of Germany's finest minds makes him a shrewd appointment for United, not least because he will take up a two-year consultancy role after 2021-22.

    This, then, is a decision taken by United with a view to long-term changes to their fortunes, not simply a quick fix to arrest poor results. Still, with more than half the season still to go, Rangnick could yet guide the Red Devils to some tangible on-pitch success over the coming months – provided that he gets to work quickly on some of their biggest problems.

    Stats Perform looks at five things Rangnick must address as soon as possible...

     

    Fix the defence

    United conceded 21 goals in the first 12 games of the season; they have never previously let in more at the same stage in the competition's history. In November alone, they have faced 60 shots, the most of any side in the division.

    That tells you something about the state of their defence.

    Of course, Rangnick's gegenpressing system is likely to demand off-the-ball contributions from every player on the pitch (more on that shortly) but the rearguard is in need of some serious fine-tuning. In particular, captain Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw have seen their individual form fall off a cliff since they helped England to the final of Euro 2020; it was telling that a good defensive performance against Chelsea on Sunday came with both players sidelined.

    Getting the best out of Shaw and Maguire, arresting Aaron Wan-Bissaka's decline and getting Raphael Varane fit and integrated into the side will be essential to Rangnick's aims.

    Get Bruno firing again

    So often United's star performer under Solskjaer, Bruno Fernandes is another who has endured a comparatively poor season.

    He tallied his 50 direct goal involvement on his 58th appearance in October (30 goals, 20 assists), which is a tally only Andy Cole (43), Alan Shearer (54) and Eric Cantona (54) reached in fewer games, so it's not all bad. But the Portugal playmaker has scored just once in 19 appearances for club and country.

    He looks a player in need of a lift and, so central is he to United's attack play, he could be Rangnick's first port of call at Carrington. Well, apart from...

    Accommodate Ronaldo

    Like a black hole devouring a gas cloud, all the noise surrounding United's performances seems to be drawn inexorably back to Cristiano Ronaldo.

    It's a beguiling narrative: a five-time Ballon d'Or winner who has to start every game but who should not expect to start every game; a 36-year-old forward who no longer contributes enough to make up for any shortcomings, but one with six goals in five Champions League matches this season, two of them winners and one a last-gasp equaliser.

    There are some writing off Ronaldo's chances of winning over a coach like Rangnick who demands hard graft from every member of his team, while others say the onus is on the incoming manager to construct a unit that brings the best out of the leading male international goalscorer in history. Time will tell what the future holds.

    And just a note for the 'Ronaldo doesn't press' crowd: he made three more sprints and 21 more intensive runs against Chelsea than Jesse Lingard, who came on at the same time.

    Tie down Pogba and tidy the squad

    Some of Solskjaer's best work at United was putting together a strong squad, but that seemed to unravel in his final few months in charge.

    Lingard returned rejuvenated from West Ham but, rather than cash in when there was a demand, Solskjaer kept the England international yet gave him just 63 minutes of league action. It's now likely he'll leave for nothing next June.

    There were similarly strange decisions behind contract extensions for Eric Bailly and the seldom-seen Juan Mata, while Phil Jones is still at the club after two years of injury hell and Anthony Martial was retained despite falling way down the attacking pecking order. Goalkeeper Dean Henderson also appears unlikely now to dislodge David de Gea.

    Then there is Paul Pogba, still yet to sign a new deal or announce plans to leave for free next year, whose agent wastes few opportunities to discuss potentially interested parties. The word is that Pogba is excited to work with Rangnick, but the France star is just one of several members of the United squad who needs clarity on their positions.

    Give Donny a chance

    It felt almost pre-ordained when Donny van de Beek scored the final goal of the Solskjaer era against Watford, having come on as a substitute to rapturous (and ironic) cheers from the visiting fans.

    Van de Beek has spent most of his time at United being assured his chances would come, then left wondering when that would be. Having only started four league games in 14 months, the Netherlands international – who has lost his place in the national squad – would almost certainly have pushed to leave in January had Solskjaer stayed in the job.

    Now, Van de Beek has the opportunity to prove himself to a new manager. Rangnick's methods might not be Cruyffian exactly, but they are certainly more closely aligned to the Ajax way than Solskjaer's focus on individual inspiration.

  • Rangnick proclaimed one of football's great 'innovators' after Man Utd appointment Rangnick proclaimed one of football's great 'innovators' after Man Utd appointment

    New Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick is "one of the most respected innovators" in the game, according to football director John Murtough.

    The Red Devils announced the appointment of the former Hoffenheim, Schalke and RB Leipzig boss on Monday, eight days after the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

    Rangnick, 63, will take charge of the team for the rest of the season before taking up a two-year consultancy role at Old Trafford. He leaves a post as head of sports and development at Lokomotiv Moscow.

    Murtough said via the club's website: "Ralf is one of the most respected coaches and innovators in European football. He was our number one candidate for interim manager, reflecting the invaluable leadership and technical skills he will bring from almost four decades of experience in management and coaching.

    "Everyone at the club is looking forward to working with him during the season ahead, and then for a further two years in his advisory role."

    Rangnick, who is known for his high-pressing philosophy and influence on some of Bundesliga's brightest minds, started his career with his hometown club Viktoria Backnang.

    After spells with the likes of Stuttgart, Hoffenheim, Hannover and Schalke, Rangnick enjoyed a brief managerial stint with RB Leipzig, who rose from the fourth tier of German football to the Bundesliga with the new United man as director of football.

    Across 293 games in the German top flight, Rangnick has 120 victories to his name at a win percentage of 41.

    "I am excited to be joining Manchester United and focused on making this a successful season for the club," Rangnick said.

    "The squad is full of talent and has a great balance of youth and experience. All my efforts for the next six months will be on helping these players fulfil their potential, both individually and, most importantly, as a team.

    "Beyond that, I look forward to supporting the club's longer-term goals on a consultancy basis."

  • Man Utd's Bailly: Players told about incoming manager amid Rangnick speculation Man Utd's Bailly: Players told about incoming manager amid Rangnick speculation

    Manchester United defender Eric Bailly said the players have been told about the arrival of a new manager amid mounting speculation regarding Ralf Rangnick.

    United are reportedly set to appoint former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick on an interim basis until the end of the season.

    Rangnick, currently working as head of sports and development at Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow, is the man United are targeting to lead them through until the end of the season, which is when they intend to make a more permanent appointment – Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino and Ajax's Erik ten Hag have been heavily linked.

    Michael Carrick continued in his caretaker role for Sunday's 1-1 draw at Premier League leaders Chelsea, though Bailly lifted the lid on matters at Old Trafford.

    "We were told in the dressing room that a new manager was coming," Bailly told RMC Sport.

    "We are working hard for now with Carrick and then we will see."

    Jadon Sancho's opener against the run of play was cancelled out by Jorginho's penalty at Stamford Bridge, where Carrick named Red Devils superstar Cristiano Ronaldo among the substitutes.

    During the month of November so far, United (17) have mustered the fewest number of shots of all Premier League sides, whilst also facing more attempts than any team (60).

    United managed just one further attempt after taking the lead at Chelsea, with their total of three shots their lowest in a Premier League game since April 2017 against Manchester City (also 3).

    Meanwhile, Carrick became the first Englishman to take charge of United in a league game since Ron Atkinson in back November 1986 (1-1 against Coventry).

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.