Under-performing Italian giants AC Milan have named former defensive midfielder Gennaro Gattuso as their new boss after sacking Vincenzo Montella, the Chinese-owned club said Monday.
The seven-time European champions announced the parting of ways with Montella and his crew in a statement on its website. The sacking followed a goalless draw against Torino on Sunday, which left the club seventh in Serie A.
“We are very grateful to Mr. Montella and his staff for all the work done up to today, their commitment and professionalism”, the club management said.
Gennaro Gattuso, who at present coaches the junior team will be unveiled tomorrow at a press conference at Milanello training centre. The 39-year-old Gattuso was a member of one of the club’s most successful sides. He has little coaching pedigree.
Gattuso made more than 450 appearances for AC Milan between 1999 and 2012, winning a reputation as a rugged defensive midfielder, and he lifted the 2006 World Cup with Italy.
He spent a season at Glasgow Rangers before joining AC Milan.
Since retiring as a player, he has been working within the AC Milan structure as youth team coach after a stuttering coaching career elsewhere, with short stints at Sion in Switzerland, at Palermo and Pisa in Italy and at Greek minnows OFI Crete.
AC Milan have not finished higher than sixth in any of the last four seasons in Serie A but new Chinese owner Li Yonghong funded a 230-million-euro ($270 million) signing spree in the summer.
Leonardo Bonucci arrived from Juventus for 38 million euros in an eye-catching move, while Portuguese player Andre Silva came for a similar sum from FC Porto and Hakan Calhanoglu was acquired from Bayer Leverkusen.
But even with those reinforcements, Montella failed to put the club that was once the jewel in former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s business empire in contention for a Champions League place. He leaves after 17 months at the San Siro.
There will be heavy pressure on Gattuso, who was a key cog in a team featuring Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo and Filippo Inzaghi which won the 2003 Champions League by beating Juventus on penalties.
He was on the losing side in the dramatic 2005 final in Istanbul when AC Milan blew a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Liverpool and then lost in the penalty shootout, but got his revenge two years later when Milan beat Liverpool in Athens.
He also helped Milan win two Serie A titles and made 72 international appearances for Italy.