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Gattuso handed helm in Milan

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-29 07:13

MILAN - Fallen Italian giant AC Milan made combative former player Gennaro Gattuso its new boss on Monday after firing Vincenzo Montella following a disappointing start to the season.

The seven-time European champion released Montella after a scoreless draw against Torino on Sunday left it seventh in Serie A, 18 points behind leader Napoli.

In 39-year-old Gattuso, the Chinese-owned club has turned to a member of one of its most successful sides, but he has little coaching pedigree.

Milan thanked Montella for his efforts and said in a statement: "Management of the first team is entrusted to Gennaro Gattuso."

Gattuso made a total of 468 appearances for Milan between 1999 and 2012, winning a reputation as a rugged defensive midfielder and earning the nickname "Rino" (Italian for rhino) for his verbal raging and rampaging playing style.

He won the Serie A title twice and helped Milan to Champions League glory on two occasions. Gattuso also played an integral part in Italy's 2006 World Cup win, earning a spot in FIFA's team of the tournament.

AC Milan has not finished higher than sixth in any of the last four seasons in Serie A but new Chinese owner Li Yonghong funded a $270 million signing spree in the summer.

Leonardo Bonucci arrived from Juventus for $45 million, while Portuguese player Andre Silva came for a similar sum from FC Porto and Turkish midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu was signed from Bayer Leverkusen.

But even with those reinforcements, Montella failed to put the club, once the jewel in former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's business empire, in contention for a Champions League place. He leaves after 17 months at San Siro.

There will be heavy pressure on Gattuso, whose feistiness often got him into trouble during his playing days.

He once slapped then-Ajax striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the pair later clashed as Milan teammates - legend has it that ended with the Swede throwing Gattuso in a garbage can.

In 2011, Gattuso's temper spilled over again when he grabbed Tottenham assistant coach Joe Jordan by the throat before headbutting him, picking up a UEFA ban.

Before arriving at Milan, Gattuso had risen to prominence for Walter Smith's Rangers, where he won the Scottish double alongside English great Paul Gascoigne.

Gattuso has recently been working as a youth team coach for Milan after indifferent management spells with Sion in Switzerland, Palermo and Pisa in his homeland and OFI Crete in Greece.

Gattuso was part of the last Milan squads to win Serie A (2011) and the Champions League (2007), but he faces a mammoth task to restore the Rossoneri to their former glory.

AFP

(China Daily 11/29/2017 page22)

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