Nocerino not surprised by Milan's resurgence under Gattuso
"Incredible, really incredible." That is how Antonio Nocerino described Gennaro Gattuso's work at AC Milan, though the club's resurgence under the tenacious Italian comes as no surprise to the former midfielder.
Eyebrows were raised when Gattuso was promoted from his role with the Primavera youth team until the end of the season after Vincenzo Montella was sacked by underachieving Milan in November.
Many thought experience was needed at San Siro – where the Scudetto had been absent since 2011 – as Gattuso had only previously worked for Pisa, OFI Crete, Palermo and Sion.
But Gattuso, who was a member of Milan's last triumphant Serie A side seven years ago, has overseen an upturn in fortunes with just one defeat in their past 15 matches across all competitions.
Milan's resurgence has also yielded a Coppa Italia final showdown with rivals Juventus and seen them move into the European qualifying spots – only six points off a Champions League berth.
That's all from the boss and @suso30oficial's press conference from the Emirates Stadium in London. Stay tuned for more #AFCACM build-up here and on https://t.co/JtvovTfCHn! pic.twitter.com/5qReFVNGF1— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 14, 2018
"It's not a surprise for me," ex-Italy international Nocerino, who spent five years at Milan after arriving from Palermo in 2011, told Omnisport when asked about Gattuso's work since taking over. "When I played with Rino, I understand the football side of Rino. He has a different style to Montella.
"Rino normally, the first thing is to change the training. With Rino, training is high intensity and very hard. It's incredible. When Rino was a player, it's the same.
"After, Rino is a good man with good tactics. The results, you look, the Coppa Italia final and good results in Serie A. The work Rino is doing is incredible, really incredible."
Milan had been flawless until they were outclassed by Arsenal in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie last week.
All eyes were on Gattuso and Milan in Italy, where Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aaron Ramsey condemned the hosts to a 2-0 defeat.
Now, Milan head to London facing an uphill battle but with nothing to lose.
"The game in Milan was inexperience," Nocerino said. "Milan have many young players. Maybe in Milan against Milan, only two or three players had big experiences in Europe.
"I hope in London something changes and Milan can qualify but 2-0 is not simple. However, football is crazy.
"I remember my game in London in the Champions League [last 16] with Milan [in 2012]. We won 4-0 against Arsenal and lost 3-0 in London. Fortunately, Christian Abbiati denied Robin van Persie. Football is very crazy."
But Milan take to the Emirates Stadium full of confidence following their last-gasp victory at Genoa in Serie A.
Andre Silva struck in the 94th minute – his first league goal of the season – after Milan's Europa League woes three days earlier.
Training at high intensity ahead of #AFCACM— AC Milan (@acmilan) March 13, 2018
Full photo gallery here : https://t.co/HGhvz7wK5h
Massima intensità verso la rivincita contro i Gunners
Guarda la gallery completa : https://t.co/mZq3sxi7Md#UEL pic.twitter.com/WRGLcoOPJI
"The last game was good for everyone, for the club's mentality and confidence," Nocerino – who last played for MLS outfit Orlando City in 2017 – added.
"When you win in the last minute, it's important because the group is strong. When you have a team working hard for 95-96 minutes, it's important."