Capello: ‘Milan should go for Thiago Motta – He knows how to get the best from his players’


Former Milan coach Fabio Capello believes the Rossoneri should go all out to secure Thiago Motta for next season. With Stefano Pioli almost certain to leave the club in the summer, speculation is mounting over who Milan will appoint as his successor. Speaking with La Gazzetta dello Sport, Capello made the case for Motta to be appointed, suggesting he would be ‘ideal’ for the Milan bench:

Mister, many fans see Thiago Motta, like Conte, as an ideal coach for Milan. What do you think?

“I agree, he’s one of my favorites. He has experience with big clubs thanks to his playing career, and he’s done some really interesting things at Bologna. Plus, he has that special characteristic, a personal favorite of mine…”

What would that be?

“He’s a former midfielder. Make a list of the best coaches in the world, and you’ll find Guardiola, Conte, Xabi Alonso, Ancelotti, Arteta, Allegri, Xavi. They have something in common, don’t they?”

They played in midfield.

“Yes, midfielders have something extra, perhaps vision, the ability to balance attack and defense, a sense of equilibrium.”

You said of Thiago Motta: “He’s done interesting things.” What do you refer to?

“The most important: he’s gotten the best out of all his players. And by waging war against Arnautovic, he showed great personality. Players, in this way, understand that it’s obligatory to follow the coach, for the good of the team.”

Let’s talk about style, on and off the field. Does Bologna’s play impress you?

“There’s a good balance between defense and offense. Motta builds from the back, as they say now, but not excessively. He envisions a football that leads to results, but in the right way.”

And off the field?

“In his statements, he’s never excessive, he knows how to handle moments of glory without getting carried away, and he gives the right importance to the group and the players. And he knows Italy perfectly, speaks several languages perfectly, and has leadership, which is always fundamental because players weigh on you during the week. In fact, I’ll say more: sometimes leadership isn’t enough: in the locker room, you have to find positive leaders ready to fight with you and eliminate negative leaders who ruin the atmosphere. It’s an extremely difficult job, with one advantage: on average, you play every five days. There’s always time to redeem yourself… but also to sink.”

In short, Thiago Motta passes with flying colors. Even for Milan?

“Yes, he seems like a coach ready for the leap.”

And if he brought Zirkzee…

“Well, that would be ideal. Thiago Motta was fortunate to have the surprise center-forward of the season on his team and he handled him very well. But if we’re talking about that, we’re entering another, decidedly complex, realm. Players are always the most important thing: you can only prove you’re good if you have strong players.”

So let’s broaden the picture: what should be the first characteristic for Milan’s next coach?

“He must understand where he’s working. Every nation has a style of play, a set of unwritten laws to know. In Spain, Guardiola’s legacy is still clear—less so in the Basque Country—in England, you run and fight even at 0-3, in France, physicality reigns. A coach must adapt his football at least a little to these characteristics. He must understand that the players’ tactical thinking is different: in every nation, there are things you can ask for and others that are best avoided.”

Mister, one last question. If Thiago Motta weren’t available, who would you choose?

“A coach who knows Italy. Someone like Fonseca.”


Serie A obsessive.