AC Milan captain Leonardo Bonucci has said he believes the club will get back “where they belong” and sees similarities with his difficult first season as a Juventus player.
Bonucci moved to Milan — currently 11th in the table — in the summer after seven seasons at Juve, with whom he won six Serie A titles.
The Turin club struggled to a seventh-placed finish in Bonucci’s first campaign, and the defender was singled out for criticism by many fans, but that was soon followed by a record-breaking run of success.
He told Forza Milan magazine: “It’s true, I can see a lot of similarities between the start here at Milan and my first year at Juventus.
“We had the new signings, the initial enthusiasm. The only difference was at the start: at Juve, we were top in December but then had an inexplicable collapse, whereas here we’ve had problems gelling as a group.
“We knew it would be difficult, but maybe we could have done with a bit more luck.”
Milan defeated Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday to set up a semifinal against Lazio, and Bonucci said he could see brighter times ahead.
“From this point forward, we’re going to get the best out of each and every one of us,” he said.
“We’re going to lift Milan back to the levels where they belong. I hope that 2018 will be better than 2017 because we all deserve it.”
Bonucci said he had experienced a tough time adjusting to becoming leader of the Milan defence after being part of a formidable Juve back line including Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini and Andrea Barzagli.
“I’ve struggled during this initial period because I had so many thoughts in my head and my physical condition was not optimal either,” he added.
“These two things put together produced, as a result, performances which were not in keeping with my past.
“But after my suspension [for a red card against Genoa], I worked hard on myself again, physically and psychologically, and I’ve succeeded in performing the way I would have wanted to do from the very beginning.
“I agree with [coach Gennaro Gattuso] that you need to work on your mind and your legs together, but when you are faced with problems, it is the head which helps you perform better and to reach an objective.For an individual, the objective is to perform well, while the team’s objective is to win.”
Milan travel to Fiorentina this weekend for their final fixture of 2017, trailing the Viola by two points.
Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.