AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso said his side is lacking “a bit of malice” as he outlined his aims for next season in the aftermath of a 5-1 final-day victory over Fiorentina.
Goals from Hakan Calhanoglu, Nikola Kalinic, Giacomo Bonaventura and a brace from Patrick Cutrone made sure of Milan’s place in next season’s Europa League and gave the San Siro faithful a day to celebrate at the end of a tumultuous season.
Gattuso has been credited with turning the club’s campaign around and he paid tribute to his players after they produced an emphatic finale.
“I have to thank this group, there were very difficult moments,” Gattuso told Sky Sport. “I found some guys that gave me a great sense of belonging. I broke the boxes for five months but nobody has ever failed to respect me, so I have been fortunate.
“We had a plan but without their commitment it would have been useless. I have to say thanks to them.”
Milan’s recovery in 2017-18 came too late to push for a place in Serie A’s top four, and Gattuso stated his hopes and intentions for the future.
“We must learn to play with physicality that we are lacking, a bit of malice, a bit of experience,” said Gattuso.
“The backbone of the team is there. We have to reinforce it and look at what we can do to improve the players we have.
“The road is still long, I have a lot to learn but I have passion and when there is this it takes only luck and work.”
Fiorentina manager Stefano Pioli revealed that he and Gattuso clashed at half-time, when the score was 2-1 thanks to Giovanni Simeone’s goal for the visitors.
“We had a bickering in the interval – Gattuso could have avoided it in my opinion,” Pioli told reporters. “Then at the end of the game we clarified ourselves.”
When asked about his ambitions for next season, Pioli said: “Repeat what we did well and improve on eighth place, which is an excellent result for what we have suffered and experienced.
“I have been clear with the club: I want a few players to provide cover in each position at more or less the same level. I want competition between them. The team must certainly be reinforced.”