AC Milan defender Leonardo Bonucci has praised interim boss and club great Gennaro Gattuso for turning their season around and making him realise he didn’t have to do everything on his own.
The 30-year-old Italian centre-back completed a sensational transfer from Juventus to the Rossoneri for a reported £35.1m last summer and in the process became only the 11th player to represent all three of Italy’s big three clubs: Juventus, Milan and Inter.
His acquisition was seen as a statement of intent and the hope was that Bonucci could bring a great deal of experience to a relatively young Milan side. But after a tentative start things went awry, costing Vincenzo Montella his job. Gattuso stepped in and has stabilised things, much to Bonucci’s delight.
“Since Gattuso arrived, we’ve changed completely,” he told Mediaset Premium and Sky Sport Italia following their 1-0 win over Sampdoria (translation via Football Italia).
“A team has been formed, we are in better shape and it’s all down to him. We’ve made a huge leap forward and now must continue like this.
“Gattuso has given us a mentality, a sense of belonging and fitness levels, basically everything we’d been missing. We weren’t a team before him, we were also lacking physically. We worked to become a unit.”
He added: “I took some of the responsibility off my shoulders and found myself again. Gattuso did help me in that sense too. He took on a lot of that responsibility.
“At the start I was wrong and focused too much on everything that was around me, thinking I had to rescue the club, but it’s a team effort and about working together. There is a long journey ahead of us.
“The coach did well to press the right buttons, giving back confidence to those who felt they were cast aside or not performing the way they expected. He convinced us that Milan could not be what we’d seen in those first few months and gave us new ideas.”
How has Gattuso fared in charge of AC Milan?
Gattuso took charge of his former club, whom he represented between 1999 and 2012, last November as they were languishing in seventh place and 12 points away from the Champions League spots.
He has since managed the side for 11 league matches; his debut away to Benevento ended in a 2-2 draw, but he has won six of those contests while losing just twice, to Hellas Verona away and Atalanta at home.
Under Gattuso, Milan have registered 16 goals (1.45 per game) and conceded 12 (or once every 82.5 minutes).
As a consequence of these results Milan, who remain in seventh, are now eight points away from playing in the Europa League next season with 13 matches of the Serie A campaign remaining.
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