Stefano Pioli said Saturday he would like to be 30 years younger to take to the pitch for AC Milan as his injury-hit side push to keep touch with Inter in the Serie A title chase.
Second-placed Milan head for Hellas Verona on Sunday with star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic among the injuries before next week’s Europa League trip to Manchester United.
“I will tell the team that I would like to be 30 years younger, wearing their jersey and take to the pitch with them,” Pioli, 55, told a press conference in Milan ahead of the game.
“I don’t know if they would be happy, but the spirit must be that. We are a young team, in a season with many commitments.”
AC Milan have lost only once away this season but have taken just four points from their last four games to drop six points adrift of Inter Milan.
Inter’s focus is now solely on stopping Juventus win a 10th straight title having been eliminated from European competition.
“The many commitments of the season have put us in difficulty,” continued Pioli, a former defender who won the European Cup and Serie A with Juventus as a player in the 1980s.
Along with Ibrahimovic, forward Mario Mandzukic and midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu will also be absent against eighth-placed Verona.
“It’s inevitable that if we compare 2020 with 2021, the current one is bringing fewer results,” explained the Milan coach.
“Unfortunately, there are more injuries than we were used to, since September we have been playing on average every four days.
“We are very attentive to workloads and prevention measures, but unfortunately many commitments have created difficulties for us, without considering Covid.”
Seven-time European champions AC Milan are also targeting a return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.
“Now we need to grit our teeth and play as a team. We have done very positive things so far, but the next two months will be decisive.
“There are seven very strong teams, we want to go to the Champions League.”