Pioli not thinking about Milan future as Rangnick's shadow looms

By Sports Desk July 12, 2020

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli reiterated that he is not thinking about his future as Ralf Rangnick reportedly prepares to take over at San Siro.

Pioli's 10-man Milan extended their unbeaten run to seven matches in all competitions with a 2-2 draw away to Napoli in Serie A action on Sunday amid mounting speculation regarding Rangnick.

Former RB Leipzig boss Rangnick has agreed to replace Pioli – who was only appointed in October – in 2020-21, according to widespread reports.

Pioli, however, is not paying attention to the growing rumours over his future in Milan following the stalemate at Napoli.

"Everyone asks me that, but I am not thinking about the future," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia. "I am at a big club, I am training players who are doing so much and the decisions will be made in August.

"It's too important to focus now on ending the season on a high note. It's tough for coaches too with a game every three days, so I cannot be wasting energy on something that is frankly out of my control.

"I prefer to focus on what I can control, so training these lads and preparing for the games."

Franck Kessie's 73rd-minute penalty secured a point for Milan, who had opened the scoring through Theo Hernandez's fine strike after 20 minutes in Naples.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo restored parity 14 minutes later and Dries Mertens put Napoli ahead on the hour-mark before Kessie converted a spot-kick.

Milan substitute Alexis Saelemaekers was sent off with three minutes remaining following two bookings in as many minutes but the Rossoneri held on for a point.

Pioli, whose Milan had beaten leaders Juventus and challengers Lazio heading into the contest, said: "It was tough, really tough, as after Lazio and Juventus, we've had a really difficult run of games against the best teams in the league, but we showed that we were up to the task.

"When you get results and put in strong performances against this kind of opponent, it really boosts your confidence. We scored a great goal to take the lead, we fought back to equalise and a point is a good result."

Coppa Italia champions Napoli remain sixth in Serie A with six matches remaining, two behind Roma and two clear of Milan.

Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso faced former club Milan for the first time as a coach and he lamented his team's wastefulness in the final third.

"What I do get angry with is my players for needing six or seven chances to score," Gattuso said. "It's not just the strikers, but also the wide men, the midfielders. We create so many opportunities and don't finish enough of them off. That is where we must improve.

"If we analyse the post-COVID period of the season, we have the chances, but aren't scoring as regularly as we should. That is obvious. It's called a hot zone in the statistics, you can see Milan had very few scoring opportunities and yet they converted both of them.

"Considering what we create, we score too few goals and concede too many. That is happening fairly regularly. If the first press doesn't work after seven or eight seconds, we have to track back and make it solid, which we don't do enough.

"We're trying to do something a little different and we're not perfect yet, as we tend to risk waves of counter-attacks, so we end up four against four, or five against five."

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