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Milan fans fume at Pioli appointment

China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-11 09:07
Stefano Pioli has been hired as AC Milan's new coach on a two-year contract. [Photo/VCG]

MILAN - Fallen Italian giant AC Milan on Wednesday appointed Stefano Pioli as its new coach a day after Marco Giampaolo was fired after just seven games in charge.

The appointment of the 53-year-old former Inter Milan boss has sparked an angry backlash from fans, who are already calling for his removal.

Pioli arrives on a two-year deal, reported to be worth in the region of two million euros ($2.2 million) a season.

Giampaolo was fired after just 111 days on the job as the seven-time European champion slipped to 13th place in Serie A, following a run of four losses in seven games.

The appointment of Pioli, an experienced coach but one who has never won a trophy in his 16-year managerial career, was a surprise one for the 18-time Serie A champion, which won its last league title in 2011.

"It's a choice that has been weighed up," Milan technical director and club legend Paolo Maldini told a media conference.

"Being the seventh round it can be seen as a gamble, but we want to be protagonists this season.

"This is why we decided to change to an experienced coach. For a young team we wanted a coach with strong ideas."

Pioli managed city rival Inter in the 2016-17 season, but has been without a team since resigning from Fiorentina last April. He had previously helmed Bologna and Lazio.

The #PioliOut hashtag quickly trended worldwide on Twitter thanks to the angry reaction from Milan fans unhappy at his lack of trophies and his Inter links.

"I'm preparing for this adventure with great enthusiasm," said Pioli.

"This is one of the most prestigious clubs in the world. I'm taking over a good team with serious potential and therefore think I can do a good job.

"The fans have the right to criticize, but for me this is a further stimulus to make my work even better."

Pioli's first game in charge will be at home to Lecce on Oct 20.

"Giampaolo is a great coach, but he has different ideas from me," continued Pioli.

"I have to get these ideas to the players as soon as possible. Our ambition is to fight for the Champions League."

Pioli becomes the eighth manager to occupy the Milan hotseat in five years, not counting caretaker coach Mauro Tassotti, who took charge for one match after Massimiliano Allegri was fired in January 2014.

Allegri was the man who led Milan to its last scudetto and went on to win five Serie A titles with Juventus.

The club has tried everything since, from Sinisa Mihajlovic to former club icons such as Gennaro Gattuso, Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi, and most recently Giampaolo.

But nothing has managed to get the former European powerhouse back on the path to emulate past glories, with its last Champions League campaign in the 2013-14 season.

The cash-strapped club finished fifth last season under Gattuso but surrendered its Europa League berth this season after breaching UEFA's financial fair play rules.

Giampaolo's run of defeats, including a 2-0 derby loss to Inter, leaves the club struggling just three points above the relegation zone.

However it is also only four points away from the Champions League places and it is hoped Pioli, a former defender who won the Serie A title as a player with Juventus in 1986, can bring stability to the club that has experienced its share of boardroom drama after being sold twice in the past two years.

He led Lazio to the Champions League in 2015 and was praised for guiding an in-turmoil Fiorentina team after captain Davide Astori died in his sleep last year.

Italian media mogul and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who oversaw Milan's glory years during his 31-year ownership, sold the club to Chinese businessman Li Yonghong in 2017, with US hedge fund Elliot Management assuming control in July 2018.

Agence France-Presse

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