Gennaro Gattuso accepts he has managed to rekindle enthusiasm at AC Milan and the boss wants to keep the fire burning as the Rossoneri launch an unlikely late assault on the top three.
Since former Italy midfielder Gattuso took over as head coach at San Siro in November following the sacking of Vincenzo Montella, inconsistency has withered away and Milan are currently unbeaten in seven games.
Sunday’s trip to Roma, which comes two days after Milan were drawn against English heavyweights Arsenal in the last 16 of the Europa League, will represent a litmus test for the new and improved Rossoneri.
Gattuso accepts some of the praise coming his team’s way but insists there is much work to do if Milan are ever to return to title contention. They last won the Scudetto in 2011, under Massimiliano Allegri.
The current manager said at his pre-match press conference: “We must continue playing like we are and maintain this enthusiasm. We must not be afraid but rather be more aware of our limits.
“We have to bring this team back to where it had been for so many years.
“In the last two or three months we have created a lot of opportunities but we don’t always make them count. We must improve in our finishing.
“We have improved in defence through hard work… and I thought that might take a little longer to fix.
“I’m not worried about defending in Rome, but more about how to attack. I have prepared for this game so that we’ll give them plenty to worry about, while we grapple with their wingers and full-backs.”
Patrik Schick will get another chance to impress if Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco opts to start his misfiring Czech forward for the first time since December.
Schick was close to joining Juventus in the summer after impressing with a 13-goal haul for Sampdoria last term but, since moving to Roma instead, he has failed to score in any of his 10 appearances.
Di Francesco said at his press conference: “Schick has trained with consistency and continuity and he, like a lot of players, is definitely in contention for a starting spot.”
On the threat posed by Milan as Roma – a distant third behind Napoli and Juve in Serie A and trailing Shakhtar Donetsk 2-1 in the last 16 of the Champions League – target success both at home and in Europe, the boss added: “Milan have a great team and squad.
“Gattuso has managed to make the most of the qualities his team have – I think he’s doing very good work. This is a crucial period of the season for us, in both the league and Champions League.”