Milan (AFP) – AC Milan have challenged new coach Cristian Brocchi to make the job his own at the end of the season after his controversial unveiling as Sinisa Mihajlovic’s successor on Wednesday.
Brocchi, a former player with Milan and city rivals Inter, took over at the embattled Rossoneri on Monday, prompting a wave of protest by fans irked by club owner Silvio Berlusconi’s decision to sack the popular Serbian coach.
Seven-time European champions Milan have fallen on hard times in recent years and are currently battling to qualify for next season’s Europa League.
Brocchi has signed a six-month contract in the hope that his “different” methods can help the club achieve their aims of at least a top six finish.
In the meantime, club CEO Adriano Galliani said: “Mihajlovic did a good job and we have acknowledged that. He achieved good results, we are in the Italian Cup final and we are sixth in the league.
“But we all hope that Cristian will also be the coach next season.”
Brocchi admitted he would have little time to effect real changes in the six league games that remain, but added: “I really want to bring in my methodology and way of coaching, that could be different to that of other coaches.
“I wouldn’t say it’s better, but it’s definitely different in that I have worked in another way and I want to make sure the team apply that.”
Having spoken to Mihajlovic, Brocchi said there were no hard feelings: “He was a gentleman, as he always has been this season. I am not here to wipe out the memory of Mihajlovic amongst the players.
“I do however have to instill a strong bond between myself and the players and achieve something special.”
To qualify directly for the Europa League, Milan need to finish fifth in Serie A or clinch their ticket by beating Juventus in the final of the Italian Cup on May 21.
If Brocchi fails in either quest, Milan will have to finish at least sixth, which would seal the final Europa League spot because Juventus have already qualified for next season’s Champions League.
Mihajlovic’s sacking, however, has blown up a storm.
A snap poll on the website of Gazzetta dello Sport revealed 92 percent of the 13,000 fans who voted were against Berlusconi’s decision. The hashtag #IoStoConMiha (I’m with Mihajlovic) has been launched on Twitter.
Controversial right-wing politician Matteo Salvini, a fervent Milan supporter and the leader of the Lega Nord party, has also stuck the boot in.
“The problem isn’t the coach. With all the respect I have for president Berlusconi… we can’t go on like this,” he said.
“ENOUGH, give the real Milan back to the fans.”
In a Facebook post that could further prompt fans to hit out, a defiant Berlusconi replied.
“Beyond all the results we’ve had, let’s face it, Milan have never played so badly.”
He added: “The decision to hand the reins of the team to Cristian Brocchi has made waves. And while everyone is entitled to their own, legitimate opinion, my choice was dictated by my responsibility to the club.
“It, too, can be freely criticised. But no one can call into question my love for Milan. In 30 years at the club, all the choices I have made have been for the greater good of Milan.”