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The Rise of Pioli – From being sacked at Inter to lead Milan for a Scudetto

New Delhi: AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has had a long way to a Scudetto and there is hardly anything that he hasn’t seen with his eyes. Starting his career as a coach in 1999, it took him 19 long years to finally lay his hands on a huge title of Serie A. Pioli’s arrival […]

Edited By : Megha Mittal | Updated: Jul 22, 2022 10:20 IST
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New Delhi: AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli has had a long way to a Scudetto and there is hardly anything that he hasn’t seen with his eyes. Starting his career as a coach in 1999, it took him 19 long years to finally lay his hands on a huge title of Serie A.

Pioli’s arrival in AC Milan wasn’t an ideal one as the fans showed mistrust in his leadership. His ‘average’ performance as the coach throughout the years scared Milan’s well wishers as they wanted something big for the club after the breakdown it had been through.

The teams under the leadership of Pioli did not reach the zenith and win titles but also were not relegated. Inter Milan sacked him in 2017 after the Club failed to win the title in the season led by Stefano. Thus, his image was formed of someone who can’t do extraordinary work – something that Milan required at that time.

The general opinion was formed that he was there as a substitute of Luciano Spalletti, who AC Milan could not appoint as he was under contract with Inter Milan. From that position to holding a Scudetto, the journey hasn’t been easy as he worked hard and other pieces fell in place to bring the Rossoneri to this fateful moment. When Pioli came to lead Milan, #PioloOut started trending on Twitter and he, with his extraordinary work, changed into #PioliIsOnFire.

Pioli subscribed to the theory that says you learn from a defeat more than a victory and this is certainly happened in case of AC Milan. The head coach admitted in a recent interview that the club went through a “horrible” and “humiliating” period in 2019 when they lost 5-0 to Atlanta.

This was the moment, when Pioli job was also under the hammer as the club’s CEO Ivan Gazidis had approached Ralf Rangnick – the man who had earlier led RB Leipzig from rags to riches. His role was decided to be of the head coach as well as sporting director. The deal was finalised and everything was set to be announced by the end of the season.

The Stefano Pioli-Paolo Maldini’s magic started to work and the club’s performance improved drastically as they didn’t lose any match between June to August. Maldini had shown his trust in Pioli from the very first moment and this was the time when he got him a bigger chance to prove his talent as coach. And the veteran coach’s shoulders were also ready for the responsibilities but he needed to put results on field.

The plans of Maldini-Pioli duo worked in their favor as the team finished second in Serie A in 2020/21 season and went to the UEFA Champions League’s group stage seven years after their last trip. Pioli has then started to build his reputation with his work on field and the perspective of the fans started to change. The combined decisions of Maldini and Pioli on the signing of the players were key moments in the making of winning AC Milan team.

Brining back Zlatan Ibrahimovic proved to be magical for the club and capping the salary of the players helped them find hidden gems of the football. Pioli polished and sharpened them to put them in the race of future stars.

The career path of Pioli is inspiring in terms of never giving up attitude. Winning first major title after 19 years of coaching career presents his positive attitude and he certainly doesn’t have any intentions of stopping.

First published on: Jul 22, 2022 10:18 AM IST

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