There’s no point denying that Milan are in absolute crisis now and facing Barcelona on Wednesday it’s not likely to get any better. A weakened Fiorentina without Juan Guillermo Cuadrado, Mario Gomez and David Pizarro didn’t have to get out of second gear to win 2-0 at San Siro, mainly because the Rossoneri are reduced to either first gear or reverse. They trundle along for 90 minutes and fans wait for the moment they step up the pace to change things around. If it does happen, it is rapidly followed by a defensive disaster.
The calls are out for Massimiliano Allegri to be fired, though I’m not sure what good it would do with the options available. It is true that the team is playing absolutely terrible football and the squad don’t appear to know what they’re supposed to be doing. With Roma, Napoli, Fiorentina and Inter you get the sense these players have a specific plan they worked out in training and know where they are supposed to be at any given moment. Milan’s plan seems to be ‘give the ball to Kaka and Mario Balotelli, then hope for the best.’ It worked in the second half of last season, but SuperMario is now in a permanent sulk between pointless bookings and increasingly embarrassing attempts to win a penalty. Mollycoddling him is just encouraging this self-destructive petulance.
Not only are the Rossoneri not organised, but they have no spark either. Taking the initiative should mean more than running aimlessly at a wall of players or shooting from midfield. Someone also needs to appoint themselves Wall Monitor, because it’s ridiculous that a top flight team doesn’t know how to stand in a line properly. Milan were always bad at defending from set plays, but this isn’t marking we’re talking about – it’s the ability to stand in a spot and not move. Instead of releasing statements on how a free kick was not in the right position or telling Riccardo Montolivo he should argue with the referee more, how about focusing on some of the football school basics?
The real issue with Milan seems to be psychological, as they suffer from crippling arrogance. Have you noticed the only decent performances they have put in this season were when the Rossoneri were considered underdogs? Started strong against Juventus only to fall away, held Barcelona to a draw and attacked Udinese despite an injury crisis. When on paper the stronger team, they just assume they’ll score at some point and don’t push the issue until time is running out.
Allegri said this week Milan “can’t rest on our laurels,” but that’s precisely the problem. They have no laurels. What this team is resting on is a cold, hard floor with the shrivelled remains of laurels. The sooner they get that into their heads, the better, because time is running out.