Gennaro Gattuso believes AC Milan only need time to turn around a poor start to the Serie A season after a 4-1 victory at Sassuolo boosted his chances of keeping his job.
Milan had drawn their last three league games, piling pressure on Gattuso ahead of Sunday’s trip to the MAPEI Stadium, where Sassuolo had a 100 per cent record this term.
But despite striker Gonzalo Higuain missing out through injury and Gattuso having to name Samu Castillejo as a makeshift centre-forward, Milan eased to victory.
Franck Kessie’s superb 20-yard drive after the midfielder’s powerful run from his own half got the Rossoneri up and running before Suso’s curler doubled their lead.
After Castillejo struck a beauty, Filip Djuricic replied for the hosts before Suso added his second with the last kick of the game to secure a much-needed three points to move Milan into the top half of the table.
And with Gattuso able to celebrate a first away win since April in front of watching sporting director Leonardo – who is reportedly considering bringing in Antonio Conte – the coach felt vindicated, despite his side again failing to keep a clean sheet.
“At the moment, our defensive movements aren’t as good and it’s not just about the defenders, but the protective shield and going too deep. That is our weakness,” Gattuso said to Sky Sport Italia.
“We don’t press the opposition on the edge of the area, we just sit back as a shield and don’t move towards them. We had four or five through balls that caused us a lot of problems, but we know that is something we have to improve. The team does many good things and this result can help us gain confidence in everything we’re working on.
“When you wear the Milan jersey and work at a glorious club like this, which wants to get back to the top, there is pressure. People aren’t so much interested in performances as results and the table, but I knew this team had promise and just needed some time to grow.”
Suso marked his 100th Serie A appearance with his first goals since February and Gattuso suggested the 24-year-old could take inspiration from Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne by becoming a greater threat in front of goal while also focusing on providing chances for Higuain.
“In order to complete his development, Suso has to get to know Higuain better and provide the kind of service he did last week,” Gattuso added.
“If he cuts inside slightly less, he can be like Lorenzo Insigne at Napoli. Suso can score goals, because he has that in his locker, but above all he can create many goals for others like Higuain.”