December 17, 2017 / 4:14 PM / 9 months ago

Milan made fools of themselves at Verona, says Gattuso

MILAN (Reuters) - AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso gave a brutally honest assessment of his team’s 3-0 defeat at lowly Verona on Sunday, saying his expensively-assembled side had made fools of themselves.

Europa League - HNK Rijeka vs AC Milan - Stadion HNK Rijeka, Rijeka, Croatia - December 7, 2017 AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso before the match REUTERS/Antonio Bronic

The defeat completed a miserable week for Milan after UEFA exposed the club’s financial worries on Friday and 18-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma was left in tears after being insulted by fans at the San Siro on Wednesday.

Gattuso, who had not coached a Serie A team before he was appointed last month, said his side had started well but failed to react after falling behind in the 24th minute.

“Until the first goal, we played some good football and created plenty of chances,” the fiery former midfielder told reporters. “Then, at the first sign of trouble, we collapsed as we have so often this season.

“We need to understand why we collapsed like that.....we don’t know how to react when we go behind.

“There are no excuses, we made fools of ourselves,” he said.

Milan, who spent more than 200 million euros (176.41 million pounds) during the transfer window, were left seventh in Serie A with 24 points from 17 games - seven wins, three draws and seven defeats.

The decision to fire Vincenzo Montella in November and promote Gattuso from the youth team coaching role has failed to produce an improvement with one win, one draw and one defeat since the change.

On Friday, UEFA rejected Milan’s request for a voluntary agreement that would have temporarily exempted the club from European football’s break even rule known as Financial Fair Play.

UEFA said there were still uncertainties over the financing of the loans to be paid back next year and the financial guarantees provided “by the main shareholder”.

Gattuso said this had no effect on the team.

“It would be easier to say this was weighing on us, but it’s not the case,” he said. “The players are being paid punctually at the end of each month and there are no such problems in the dressing-room.”

Donnarumma, 18, signed a new contract with the club during the summer but Milan fans were angered by media reports that he could leave the club in January.

However, Milan’s sporting director Massimiliano Mirabelli told television reporters on Sunday that Donnarumma did not want to leave.

“There’s no problem with Gigio,” he said.

($1 = 0.8509 euros)

Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern, editing by Ed Osmond

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