Press conference – Fonseca: “I have great confidence in making Milan win”


Paulo Fonseca, the new AC Milan head coach, speaks for the first time to the media today. Here are his first words in a press conference at Milanello.

"Good morning, everyone. I have to thank you for the warm welcome I've received in these past few days. I want to thank the club for the trust in me and my work. I am very motivated, excited, and confident that I will do great work here. I know I am joining a club that wants to win. I visited the beautiful museum and saw Milan's history, and I have to say that I have a great ambition to be part of this history. Zlatan also showed me the space for new trophies. I want to be part of this history. I am ready to start. I can't wait to begin."

What does this moment mean for you today? Fonseca answered:

"I am here with great ambition. I know that the coaches who come here come to win. I have watched Baresi and many other players who made Milan's history many times. I am aware that it is a great responsibility but also a great pride. Milan is a universal club. I know the responsibility I have in my hands, but I have great confidence in making Milan win."

At what point is the squad in its construction? Can this Milan aim for the Scudetto?

"I have to say that I am here also because I believe a lot in the players we have and in the squad. I think it is not new that we need players, not many, but it is true that we have some positions we need to improve."

The most important point of your career? The last foreigner to win was Mourinho... Fonseca said:

"I want to be the new foreigner who wins in Italy. I want to win here at Milan. I have great ambition. I know the responsibility and I want to win... I want to win."

What is Milan on the field in your mind? What are the key concepts?

"I think that Milan is a club with a history of playing offensive football. To win, we must be a dominant team: this is what I want to build here. A courageous, dominant, offensive, reactive team, a team that does not let other teams think and play. But above all, I want to win. The quality of the game is important to me. I want to build a team that makes the fans proud, with a strong identity. As for the Ukraine pin, we have the responsibility not to forget what is happening."

Paulo Fonseca (Getty Images)
Paulo Fonseca (Getty Images)

What characteristics should the new striker have?

"We all know we need one. Together, we are trying to bring in a forward with the right characteristics. If we are a team that plays in the last thirty meters, we need a strong forward. We know who the player we want is, and we are expecting him here soon."

Can the gap with Inter be closed?

"I can promise that we will fight to win every match. It won't be any different with Inter. We know we have a strong team, and Inter is one of the strongest teams. But we have to play with courage and without fear of anything, always with the ambition to win."

What do you expect from Rafael Leao?

"Leao is an important player for Milan, he's decisive. I expect a motivated player, ready to play for the team. I think he is young and has the possibility to learn every day: I want to work to help him learn things that I think he can learn, always to help the team."

On July 8th, still no signings. When will the signings arrive? How are we doing with the forward? What happened with Zirkzee?

"We have a saying in Portuguese that goes, 'haste is the enemy of perfection.' We have a specific situation, and as Zlatan said, we know what we want. At the right moment, we will have the player."

More crucial, the arrival of a defender or the number 9? How do you improve defensive performance?

"I have studied the team, and I don't want to make comparisons with the past. I need to focus on what I need to learn. One of the things we need to improve to win is to be a more balanced team. I have studied the defensive issue; we need to improve. This is related to our defensive approach. What I can say is that we want a more aggressive team that defends further from our goal. I will work to improve this phase. We have good defenders, and I don't think it's an individual problem; we need to improve collectively. The priority right now is the forward."

Paulo Fonseca
Paulo Fonseca (Getty Images)
Fans' skepticism: what do you feel like telling the fans?  Fonseca answered:

"I have a great desire to start and to be able to convince the fans. I want to make the fans believe that we will be an ambitious team that will play to win. I know the responsibility I have and I am the one who has to convince the fans: I am sure that they will be with us at all times. All together we will be very strong."

How long will it take to see your hand?

"I think that in the first match against Torino, I expect to see my ideas on the field. This is a process that needs time. We start today but without important players: they will arrive later and I don't think we will be perfect on the first day of the championship, but you can start to see a different team."

Milan coming from second place. What does the word 'scudetto' mean?

"Winning. As I said, the coach who comes here does so to win. I'm here for this, it's the truth and we can't escape from this truth."

Who are the players you know personally? Fonseca said:

"I have played against many players. I don't have a personal relationship with anyone but I know them all."

What do you think of Alessandro Florenzi? Fonseca replied:

"He is a player of the team and at the moment I count on all those who are in the squad. Florenzi is one of them.'

Alessandro Florenzi and Paulo Fonseca (Getty Images)
Alessandro Florenzi and Paulo Fonseca (Getty Images)
On the full-backs: how do you see the current situation? Have you heard about Theo: what's in his future?

"Theo is a very important player for us. I think of playing with different structures. I have to understand the characteristics of the players we have. If there is a Theo very strong offensively, on the right I can't take someone similar: maybe we can play with a more defensive full-back or with one more advanced, depending on the strategy for each match. We have solutions for the different structures we want, it's positive."

Do you need experienced players? Do you like Alvaro Morata?

"I don't want to talk about names. We know what we want. We lost Giroud, but if we change, we change to improve.'

On injuries: Fonseca commented:

"I don't deeply know the reasons for having had these injuries. Since yesterday, we have started talking with Milan Lab and we are all talking together to avoid them in the future. Injuries increase with many competitions and many matches: but I am confident that we will not have major problems."

What do you bring from your experience at Roma? Have you matured?

"I have a great passion for Italy. I had a significant experience in Rome: it was very important in making the decision to return to Italy. These are different contexts. I know the championship well, the other coaches, the characteristics of Serie A. I am very ready."

What do you think of the level of Serie A? How will you interact with Milan Futuro?

"The championship here is very strong. I think Serie A is one of the most difficult championships in the world, with very unique characteristics. At the moment, I know there is concern about having more Italian players. We are an example right now with Milan Futuro: I think we are preparing the present and future of the club very well. I have looked at and know young quality players that we have. I have no problem playing young Italian players if they have courage and quality."

Paulo Fonseca and Maurizio Sarri
Paulo Fonseca and Maurizio Sarri (Getty)
When did the first contacts with Milan happen? How important is it to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a reference?

"Zlatan is very important: a reference for all of us. It's not so important when we started talking, but the communion of ideas was important: what the club wants is what I can bring to the team. I think we are all confident about Milan's present and future.'

How do you want to intervene in the defensive phase?

"It's not so much an individual problem as it is sectoral and collective. I think it's linked to our defensive approach. I want to change to a more aggressive team, pressing other teams, more reactive when we lose possession, and higher up when defending. If we improve on this, then we can focus on sector-specific situations. But we need to find a way that makes the team feel secure defensively. Finding this balance is important to avoid conceding too many goals."

For the midfield department: two or three? Do you need a defensive midfielder?

"I don't want to make comparisons. I have a different defensive approach compared to what Milan had in recent years. That's why I know I have a tendency, more here in Italy, to mark man-to-man: I think at some point we can do it, but I'm not a coach who does it all over the field like that. The approach of the defensive midfielder will change."

What is the objective for the Champions League? Fonseca replied:

"We want to go as far as possible. We know how difficult it is. We have the ambition to win all the games. We will also need luck. But in all the games we will have the ambition to win"

The second star, is it pressure or stimulus?

"It's motivation."

How did you approach Gerry Cardinale: did you talk?

"We talked. This conversation was also important. One of the things I liked the most is that Gerry told me 'Milan wants to win not only today but tomorrow too.' That's what the club is doing: preparing to win today but with a clear plan for the future. Then we're always in touch, normally."

Are you satisfied with the characteristics of the center-backs? How do you see Pierre Kalulu, as a full-back or center-back?

"Kalulu plays in both positions. I'm satisfied to have almost all defenders to start the work. Normally, I start with the defensive phase, only Theo is missing. It's positive to have this possibility with Kalulu in different roles: he's not very offensive, but it will depend on the game structure. I'm satisfied with this opportunity to play in different roles."

Which player can be enhanced? Noah Okafor, for example?

"We have a lot of quality here. We have different solutions for different positions. All players will be important. One of the most important things for me is to see the players learning and growing who work with me. If we improve the players, the team will be better. I have this concern to make progress

Joshua Zirkzee is in the past. Is the striker we expect similar in characteristics?"

"I think Zlatan has said it all. I don't like to mention names much. For us, the player we want is very clear."

Relationship with Milanello?

"I live there alone for now (laughs)... For me, it's very simple: I can work a lot. We don't have much time available. Right now, my family isn't here and normally I work many hours: it's easier for me to stay there, and with the staff, we can spend more hours working. At the moment, living in Milanello is more practical for me."

A positive comment from a Roma fan. Now that you're in Milan, what would you like to say to the Rossoneri fans? What can you bring to Milan that you didn't bring to Roma?

"They are different teams. I don't want to talk much about the past. What I want to say is that we know Roma is not an easy place, but I was very happy there. I carry that moment in my heart but now it's in the past. To the fans, I want to say that I will always respect them and that there is a willingness to honestly build a team that makes them proud."

Fonseca, do you have a particular slogan?

"Within the team, we always create some phrases or words, but I have to think about it... It's a matter of feeling, I need to get to know the players and the staff well."

You are very flexible. Do you prefer a strong center-forward like Edin Dzeko or a mobile one like Jonathan David?

"I'm trying to understand the type of forward we want (laughs)... It depends on the players we have, it depends on the formation. At Lille, we also played without forwards sometimes. In different areas of the field, we can play with different structures. What we know is that we want to play in the final 30 meters, and the forward we want must play well in tight spaces in those last thirty meters."

Paulo Fonseca (
Paulo Fonseca (
Wajih Mzoughi

Wajih Mzoughi

A writer, passionate about football: Serie A and AC Milan in particular. For business inquiries or any requests:

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