Showman Berlusconi orders new Milan coach to play his way
Milanello: Silvio Berlusconi has shown new AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri who is the real boss at the club by demanding his team play with more than one upfront this season unlike last term.
In an extraordinary news conference on the first day of pre-season training, the Italian prime minister and Milan owner fielded every question and left 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 the new coach what tactics he should use after falling out with last term`s coach Leonardo as Milan again ended the campaign without a trophy.
"We don`t want to see just one forward upfront. To win you have to score. To have chances you`ve got to have forwards close to the goal," Berlusconi told a packed room on Tuesday, adding he had not gone to the San Siro at times last year because he was so angry with the tactics.
"I appreciated Leonardo a lot but I disagreed with him in how he fielded the team. Ronaldinho must play on the shoulder of the strikers even if he has a tendency to drift left."
Brazilian Ronaldinho has been linked in the media with a move away but Berlusconi was adamant the playmaker was staying.
"He is the No. 1 attraction at Milan," he said, "Ronaldinho does not want to leave. I`m sure he is happy to stay."
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 Milan player.
Thousands of fans turned up to see Milan, third in Serie A last term, return to training and some 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.
Floating Milan on the stock market was ruled out, however.