'Rookie' Gattuso ready to take on Wenger in Europa League

AC Milan's Europa League clash with Arsenal will give "rookie" Gennaro Gattuso the chance to pit his wits against Arsene Wenger.

AC Milan head coach Gennaro Gattuso   -  Getty Images

AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso has labelled himself "a rookie" compared to Arsene Wenger but is relishing the chance to lock horns with the Arsenal manager.

Gattuso stepped up from his role with Milan's youth team to lead the senior side at San Siro following Vincenzo Montella's sacking in November.

After initially struggling to get consistent performances out of the Rossoneri, Gattuso has turned their fortunes around in 2018 – earning plaudits from former team-mate Andriy Shevchenko, among others.

Milan host Arsenal in the Europa League on Thursday amid an unbeaten run lasting 13 games in all competitions and which has seen them reach the Coppa Italia final.

It pits Gattuso – who has only coached since 2013 – against the vastly experienced Wenger, and it is a challenge the Italian is looking forward to.

"It's not a challenge with him, because in that regard it's not a contest," Gattuso said in his pre-match media conference.

"He's won so much in his career, he's been managing the same club for 21-22 years. My path is still very long.

"It will be an interesting match, with more of a new philosophy like mine against him and his experience. He likes to play a style based heavily on possession.

"I've been through games like this as a player, everything is different now. Compared to Wenger I'm just a rookie, I'm just starting and he's been coaching for 30 years."

While Milan are buoyant, Arsenal are in turmoil after losing four games in a row in all competitions - including the EFL Cup final against Manchester City.

Pressure is already beginning to build on Wenger at the Emirates Stadium but Milan will not underestimate their opponents.

"Arsenal are not going through a positive period, but they have great players and have scored 18 goals in this Europa League," he added.

"We have huge respect for them. We must give a top performance.

"We can't make mistakes and we need to keep our composure. We must not be afraid of the 70,000 fans that will be at San Siro and show our qualities, both technical and physical.

"If we do that we can cause them a lot of problems."

Support Sportstar

Dear Reader,

Support our journalism — where text and pictures intermingle so seamlessly — and help us scale up your experience as the world changes around us. Your contribution is vital to our brand of uninfluenced, boots-on-the-ground reportage that’s worth your while. Clickbait sensationalism is not for us, but editorial independence is — we owe it to you.

  Dugout videos