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Monday December 4 2017
Wk15: Everything must end

All chains in football are finite, writes Susy Campanale, including Napoli unbeaten runs, Benevento losing streaks and Juventus title celebrations.

Everything ends. Nothing is eternal. There is no need to panic. Napoli lost their first match, Benevento earned their first point and Sampdoria’s perfect home record was terminated. At some stage, Juventus will fail to win the Scudetto.

Are Napoli the next coming of Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan? No. Are they a very good team who still have an excellent chance of winning the Scudetto? Yes. Losing their unbeaten record will not change that, even if naturally they would’ve preferred if it hadn’t been to Juventus and at the hands – one hand, considering the other was in plaster following surgery – of their formerly beloved Gonzalo Higuain. Nicknamed Core Ingrato – ungrateful heart – after an old Neapolitan song, Pipita’s presence on the scoresheet made a bad situation feel a hundred times worse.

The Partenopei had to lose eventually, but doing so to the Old Lady prompted exaggerated reactions from all sides. Maurizio Sarri’s team are not suddenly a disaster, nor have Juve automatically resolved all of their issues. It’s one game. We’ll see come the end of the season how it pans out in the wider scheme of things, but for now my advice would be for nobody to get ahead of themselves.

Inter are on top of the table for the first time since January 2016 and achieved it by sweeping Chievo aside 5-0. It was an almost perfect showing from Luciano Spalletti’s side and means they remain the only unbeaten team in Serie A this season. Most notably, it showed the strength in depth at their disposal, because where Roberto Gagliardini, Joao Miranda and Matias Vecino missed out, Joao Mario, Marcelo Brozovic and even Andrea Ranocchia delivered the goods.

The Nerazzurri are genuine title contenders, there’s no doubting that, but we have yet to see how they’ll react when that unbeaten run comes to an end. Like Napoli, it must happen at some stage and the reaction will be more decisive than the initial result.

Everything has a natural conclusion, such as Benevento’s extraordinary 14-round losing streak. Le Streghe really don’t do things by halves. Every time they seemed to be on the verge of that elusive result, they’d concede a last-second goal or give away a ridiculous penalty. What better way to make history with their first ever Serie A point than against Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan with the goalkeeper on target in stoppages? Nobody will forget that moment in a hurry. Alberto Brignoli did what all goalkeepers do with the last kick of the game – ran up there to put another body in the box and confuse the marking. He certainly didn’t think he was going to score, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Milan fans wish they could forget it, but this seems to be their destiny: being on the receiving end of an historic comeback that everyone remembers decades later. We can only hope that soon enough there will be something positive for the Rossoneri to write in the popular consciousness once more. Vincenzo Montella had come to the end of the line, that was clear, but Gattuso isn’t exactly a natural progression. How many barely-qualified former star players do they need to appoint before opting for someone with expertise rather than name recognition? As Spalletti has shown at Inter this term, grit can only get you so far without tactical organisation. Every element of the Nerazzurri squad know what they are meant to be doing and that simply cannot be said of Milan’s men.

Lazio have a clear identity and belief in that is what kept them going at Marassi. Sampdoria’s 100 per cent home record had to end eventually and it’s rather fitting it should be against the side that won all their away fixtures. Statistically, that isn’t true, but the only ‘away’ match the Aquile lost was the derby with Roma in their very own Stadio Olimpico. With that trend, maybe it’s Lazio who ought to be pushing for the move to a new stadium rather than their local rivals.

Simone Inzaghi’s side will eventually slip up on their travels, just as Torino will stop sharing the spoils. Mattia Destro’s goal drought ended, after all, and that means truly anything is possible.

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Have your say...
it’s the coaching. He went up against a better, more experienced coach and even with a better team he didn’t make a difference. Ferdinand once said that the lovely passing moves we see on TV are not done off the cuff. They’re all pre-planned. That pass into space you see was actually planned on the training pitch. Sometimes moves break down because a player is not where they’re supposed to be. There is so much that goes on in the background that we don’t see. And it all comes back to the coach.
on the 8th December, 2017 at 12:16am
@ SilentObserver I give up! Montella was the one who wanted Bonucci and having signed Bonucci and not a winger we have to play 3 at the back because that suits the players in the squad NOW. But the 3 at the back is not of itself the issue. The issue, as we have just seen with the defeat to Rijeka, is the players have no direction. Whether we play 352, 343, 433, 442, 424, 4231 or 41212 is irrelevant if the players are directionless. Gattuso is blaming the ‘mentality’ but it’s not the mentality,
on the 8th December, 2017 at 12:15am
@Maldini's Heir: That's exactly my point. Montella found his formula with 4 in the back. Why would he ask for Bonucci? He asked for Abumeyang but they gave him Silva and Kalinic. The transfers were handled by Fassone/Mirabelli and were imposed to Montella.
Don't blame the coach, blame the management!
on the 7th December, 2017 at 6:36pm
Milan r hilarious.Finally had a decent season,qualified for Europa,won a minor morale boosting trophy,& started the summer with good signings.Then,out of nowhere,we have Bonucci now,a back 3 is bound to work.Let's abandon our tactics & our search for a winger.Let's downgrade the squad & replace Niang with Borini,Bacca with Kalinic,Biglia with Sosa(proving to be a downgrade).Let's sell Kucka even though Kessie is still not developed.No need for Pasalic but Montolivo must be kept at all costs.HAHA
on the 7th December, 2017 at 12:35pm
Suso may be the only natural winger but Chalhanoglu,Jack,Borini have all played wide roles before.Top 4 is over,I see no harm in trying different things until January when we can reinforce with a solid coach or some players.PS:I know everyone wants Carlo and Conte but I also think Ranieri would be perfect and easier to attract.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 9:54am
@MaldinisHeir Nobody is saying that we dont need a good coach and nobody is denying that the transfer campaign was bad (especially the sales of Niang and Kucka).But the only thing that can be done NOW is find the right formula for these players.I agree with Sheva,while we have 3 great center backs,it is not worth sacrificing a man up the pitch.Romagnoli,Leo can start and with 3 competitions,form,injuries,fatigue,suspension,Musacchio should get enough playing time.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 9:51am
Every top footballer (such as those playing in the top 7 teams in Serie A) is like a Formula 1 car. If you don’t handle them properly you end up in the ditch. If Milan had taken the 200m and signed Conte in the summer it’s conceivable he would’ve won the title with the same team as Montella had last season. There are tiny differences between the squads not these huge gulfs. And that is all the more reason why signing 12 new players (at Montella’s request) was so stupid and reckless.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 2:31am
Chelsea went from 1st to 10th to 1st again with different managers which included Mourinho losing it, for whatever reason, in his second season. Man Utd went from a Cleverly inspired title in 12/13 to 7th in 13/14. In fact Ferguson is the very definition of a manager who could win with any team. Mourinho’s second spell at Chelsea shows that in football it’s all about finding the right conditions. If there’s even a slight variation it can have radically different results.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 2:30am
@ SilentObserver Why Kalinic instead of Bacca? Because Montella requested him. Why Bonucci? Montella’s idea. Is Montella a bad coach? No he’s alright. He’s just is not a coach you give 200m to particularly since his biggest weakness is indecisiveness. The coach makes ALL the difference. 10/11 Juve finished 7th. Conte was appointed and with virtually the same squad they finished an unbeaten 1st. 12/13 Roma finished 6th. Garcia was appointed and with virtually the same squad they finished 2nd.
on the 7th December, 2017 at 2:24am
@ Sheva Milan And I’m saying it’s hard to think of a squad that is more suited to a back 3. We have 3 top CBs who are all comfortable on the ball and one whose natural position is sweeper, we have full backs who are better at gong forward than defending, not many options in midfield and not many options upfront. We have no wingers other than Suso. This squad is designed to play 3 at the back. And if you disagree then who are you dropping from Bonucci, Musacchio and Romagnoli?
on the 7th December, 2017 at 2:11am
Milan fans, I feel for you. But don't blame everything on the coaching. Montella is a decent coach, at least along the lines of Lazio's Inzaghi. The problem is your management. Fassone is cancer, he was one of the main reasons of Inter's decline after 2010, and that is why he lost his job there.

Can someone explain to me why Kalinic was purchased? What did he have that Bacca lacks? He is the same age and same profile. Why that money was not invested in bringing some wingers?
on the 6th December, 2017 at 3:45pm
Everything ends..I hope so. It may not b crucial but that was a HUGE win for Juve. I hope Inter can stop them next round to keep the title race exciting! All credit to Juve n Higuian tho. He does do well at the San Paolo n his goal does mean it's a test 4 Napoli! Will being knocked out of Europe suit them or do they need to progress in the CL 4 morale? I hope they do qualify but it is a bit of a quandary concerning their squad depth! Well done Roma. Milan need a plan 2 go with their money!
on the 6th December, 2017 at 11:47am
Milan fans before the season is started:
We got Bonucci, now our team have the BEST DEFENSE! OMG, I have never been this excited since the arrival of Inzaghi. I'm literally CRYING! LOLOLOLOL

Juve, your cycle is end now! Milan is BACK! We will win scudetto and Europa League! Just sit and enjoy the show.

Milan fans after the Benevento game:
WHAT THE #%$@!!! Pls sack this, sack that, we need this, we need that, BLA BLA BLA. AAAGH!

Juve fans:
Pls shut up and enjoy THE MISERY FOR YOUR LOUD MOUTH!
on the 6th December, 2017 at 8:37am
U may not be fully satisfied with what Milan did last season but there was progress.We were even competitive in the games we lost & let's not forget we beat Juve,got a win & a draw vs Lazio,Fiorentina,two Draws vs Inter,Atalanta.Now,with the same coach as last season & players u claim are very well suited to 343 or 352,did u see any positive team performance or result in Serie A?A top manager may have done slightly better but to really compete with a back 3 he'd need at least 3 new players.
on the 6th December, 2017 at 7:56am
@MaldinisHeir U think Montella,Gattuso are not qualified.I agree.What I'm saying is that a qualified coach would have realized that a back 3 doesn't suit this squad.U don't seem to realize that different players have different strengths & weaknesses & it's up to the coach to find a system to play to their strengths.If it's a back 3 then so be it but for this squad it isn't.Montella found a good system last season for his players.This season he failed to do so.
on the 6th December, 2017 at 7:39am
The manager makes all of the difference. Average players become world class with the right manager. World class players become average with the wrong manager. Lazio (oh watch out another team that plays 3 at the back) does not have a better team than Milan. In fact they probably have worse team. But they have a better manager and that is the difference. Same with Inter. Same with every team above us. We now have one of the most unqualified managers in the league and the results will follow.
on the 6th December, 2017 at 12:49am
problems we're facing. And all of this was encouraged by the media and the fans who think that the transfer market holds the key to everything in football. No player is ever good enough. There's always a demand for world class players. So apparently the latest bunch of 200m players are not "good enough" to play 3 at the back. Atalanta might be but not Milan. Never mind we suffered our heaviest defeat with 4-3-3 let's blame the formation or anything other than looking at the management.
on the 6th December, 2017 at 12:46am
@ Sheva Milan Underlying all of this is once again the assumption that the players are never good enough. Montella did not do "decent job with a 433 last season". He finished below Atalanta (who remarkably were also able to play 3 at the back). He spent all of last season talking down the team's ability even when they were in a Champions League spot in January. Then after he achieved the bare minimum he insisted on an entire overhaul to meet his lofty expectations. That has created the current
on the 6th December, 2017 at 12:40am
Anyway, this author is a very disgruntled milan fan, who really hate Inter's success and perhaps juve as well after their years of dominance. Perfect example of backhanded compliment.
Though I very much enjoy Inter's current supremacy over Milan, I almost feel sad after gattuso appointment and draw with B'vento.
It'd be better to compete with rival when they're on top condition like with Juve next week. Even though I hate them much more than Milan.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 2:30pm
What a great win! Spalletti is the Man! I couldn't believe that even Rano has improved so much under him. I guess it's true, world class coach should be able to improve the players, not just buy & buy to get world class team to win trophies. Now Juve await, if Inter can steal at least a point, then we really are scudetto contender.
Napoli seem affected by fatigue and Ghoulam injury, they really need squad depth and proper rotation policy afterall.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 2:27pm
I'm an Inter fan, although all this makes me laugh on a regular basis, the league is not quite the same with Milan in this position or worse come end of season. I wouldn't want our rivalry to become the equivalent of that of Torino.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 8:39am
I don't get how people find it so incomprehensible that Milan chose Gattuso as coach. The reason is simple, they're broke. Oh wait it's worse, they're in serious debt and have a credible chance of going bankrupt at the end of the season. Gattuso was already on the books, the only other option was to keep Montella.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 8:37am
Also,read what I wrote:Milan dont have enough quality to make up for the man they lose up the pitch.Man U have Pogba,Lukaku,Rashford,Martial,Mata,Mkhitarian,Valencia,& now Ibra.Chelsea have Fabregas,Kante,Hazard,Morata & Costa before that.Arsenal have Ozil,Sanchez,Lacazette.Spurs have Eriksen,Lamela,Son,Kane,Alli.Juve(dont regularly play back 3)have Pjanic,Khedira,Dybala,Higuain,Costa,Bernardeschi,Mandzukic.Apart from Juve the closest of these teams to 1st Place is 8 pts behind.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 7:27am
@MaldinisHeir 1.Biglia played in the WC final almost 4 years ago & let's not pretend like he was one of the standout players.Monti in his best years played in the Euro final but do you think he's top quality now?2.Montella did a decent job with a 433 last season & seemed able to communicate clear ideas & playing style.It's no coincidence that he & the team looked lost ever since switching to a back 3.3.Yes a great coach is needed but let's focus on what actions can be done now to help this team
on the 5th December, 2017 at 7:16am
Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs?... not exactly the best examples to use to support your argument. None of these teams are exactly lighting the EPL or Europe on fire atm.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 5:01am
@MaldiniHeir Nobody is claiming the coach has nothing to do with Milan's issues. Every formation has pros and cons and people are simply laying out some basic problems within our 3-4-whatever.
on the 5th December, 2017 at 4:07am
Merry Christmas Milan from Inter. Dont worry be happy, drawing at Benevento aint that bad. Please keep Gattuso, hes a genious. Just look at him. Now thats a wise man.

Inter bought a Brignoli jersey for you as a christmas present. We know you cant afford a present for us. Thats okay, dont worry.
18 points!!!
on the 5th December, 2017 at 12:14am
frighten Juve players to a 7th straight Scudetto. And what is the deal with Inter? How have they gone from 7th last season to 1st this season by ‘just’ signing Valero, Skirniar, Dalbert and Vecino? Hmm what could it possibly be? Wait. New manager? So it seems the manager in fact holds the key to everything. Not the formation. Not signing Messi and Ronaldo. Having an actual manager who knows what he’s doing and can get the best out of the players.
on the 4th December, 2017 at 11:12pm
and Calhanoglu) and probably our weakest position is upfront where the manager needs to choose between Silva and Cutrone. So the entire squad is set up to play 3-something-something and you’re saying that it’s the formation that’s the problem. Do you think maybe we should have regard to the coach? Put simply; would the team above us be where they are if Montella or Gattuso were in charge? Do you really believe Napoli would be top of the table with tinkerman Montella in charge? Or Gattuso could
on the 4th December, 2017 at 11:11pm
@ Sheva Milan So it’s the formation that’s the problem not the fact that we have unqualified coach? How is it that Juventus, Arsenal, Tottenham and now even Man Utd can all play with 3 at the back but Milan can’t? Where exactly is the issue? We have 3 of the best CBs in Serie A, we have a holding midfield who’s played in the World Cup final, we have a box to box midfielder who is one of the most physical in Serie A and we have lots of players who like to play off a single CF (Bonaventura, Suso
on the 4th December, 2017 at 11:10pm

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