Pre-season has, by and large, not been pleasant for Milan so far. After starting the summer with a pre-World Cup duo of signings and the appointment of fan favourite Filippo Inzaghi, concerning results on the pitch threatened to fade initial hope surrounding the Rossoneri heading into 2014-15.
Two consecutive losses against Olympiacos and Manchester City, the latter a 5-1 thrashing that saw four goals scored pass Michael Agazzi and his often clueless defence inside 30 minutes, has sent another sobering reminder of the gulf between the Diavolo and Europe’s most talented clubs. Considering Agazzi and former Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Alex were brought in, alongside making permanent Adil Rami’s move from Valencia, with the intention to improve the backline, to play so poorly immediately upon arrival is no doubt an issue.
There appears to be a gap talent wise, yet pressure has been no less prevalent around coaching debutant Inzaghi, especially from the club itself. “I had a long talk with Pippo, and I'm sure that we will do well this season,” CEO Adriano Galliani told media this week.
“Everyone at the club is convinced that we will do well this season because we have a very good Coach.”
While it wasn’t revealed what Inzaghi and Galliani discussed, fans will hope the transfer market was one of the topics, with Riccardo Montolivo’s injury casting a large shadow over the midfielders available for selection when the new season begins.
“This team needs to be improved to come close to a championship,” former Milan midfielder Stefano Eranio has considered. “You cannot repeat the previous season.”
If Milan’s upcoming season is to be a success then additional quality is required to add to a side where genuine, veteran talent is at a premium.
The Rossoneri’s interest in numerous players around Europe is widely reported but the current state of finance at San Siro is apparently dictating that players must exit before new ones arrive. One of those is Robinho, with Besiktas, Olympiacos and home-town club Santos all seen as vying for his services. If and when that move is completed, Milan may finally take action on some of the players reportedly on their list, but with former targets Juan Iturbe, Antoine Griezmann, Davide Astori and Marco Parolo all at new clubs, that list is shortening.
A pre-season match against Liverpool is to conclude a tournament that has Milan sitting bottom of their group with minus seven goal difference, before a challenging stretch to begin the Serie A season greets the team - with new arrivals or not.
An opening bout against an improved Lazio side at the Giuseppe Meazza is the first League match under Inzaghi before a trip to Roberto Donadoni’s exciting Parma side comes a week later. A third week showdown against former Coach Massimiliano Allegri and Serie A champions Juventus will prove to be a serious test, perhaps the first of the calendar and of Inzaghi’s fledgling coaching career.
Questions are beginning to arise for Pippo’s Milan, and the time to answer them is rapidly approaching.