Monday October 16 2017
Identity crisis in Milan

Sunday’s Derby defeat to Inter proved once again Vincenzo Montella is struggling to forge an identity with his Milan, writes Matthew Santangelo.

Milan succumbed to their own defensive flaws and lack of organisation yet again on Sunday, as Mauro Icardi destroyed them with a hat-trick. Captain Leonardo Bonucci continued to struggle and, collectively, it was a repeat of those same costly errors in the back over the past month that did them in over the weekend.

It’s obvious in the results and eye-test that Vincenzo Montella’s tactical switch to a 3-5-2 in order to suit Bonucci – which he denied after the loss - just isn’t working, like many expected it would.

Alarming as it may be to witness the once-astute Italian defender, like so many others in the squad, glaringly struggle for form, perhaps the biggest concern lies in the reality there is a distinct lack of an identity with this side midway through October.

One of the main reasons behind Massimiliano Mirabelli and Marco Fassone’s swift market dealings last summer was to hand Montella ample time to experiment, tinker, and ultimately craft himself a brand of football that can help accomplish the desired goal in the form of a top-four finish.

Along with Bonucci and Mateo Musacchio, bolstering with two strong wing-backs and two strikers led us to believe that Montella had the utmost confidence in the 3-5-2. Initially, this shape appeared to make the most sense. But, by not purchasing an impact winger as the final piece, Montella is now unable to revert out of the current formation and into a three-man attack, which is the adjustment most feel could help solve their issues at the moment.

As Montella pointed out after the defeat: “We can’t play with a 4-3-3, because we play every three days and only have Suso and Jack Bonaventura on the wings, so they can’t play all the time.”

Early on, a lighter schedule worked in Montella’s favour, in that he could make alterations to his XI, even if the product didn’t convince in the end. The Europa League and softer Serie A fixtures needed to be approached with intentions of winning, but more importantly, seizing the opportunity to solidify a winning DNA, as it would be paramount in the biggest matches of the year.

Through eight rounds, the red and black are suffering mightily, wandering about trying to establish a winning personality. While the former Fiorentina Coach does not have the depth out wide to switch things up, he can’t possibly keep going to the well with the same ideas - week in and week out - and expect different outcomes.

Solutions to the problems must come from experimentation. Otherwise, Montella and Milan will continue to feel the pressure with every imperfection.

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Have your say...
The message is CLEAR: Greediness will destroy YOU (#19) LOL

I am so happy we have Rugani and top class players such as Chiellini, Alex Sandro, Buffon, Pjanic, Costa, Khedira, Higuain, Mandzukic, Dybala, etc, etc, etc, etc... LOL

And whoever says Romagnoli is better than Rugani... YOU ARE CLEARLY DELUSIONAL!
on the 22nd October, 2017 at 6:05pm
make a couple of decent runs beyond the defence only for Locatelli and Suso or Bonnaventura to completely ignore him, taking 3 or more extra touches, the defence gets back into shape and they had to pass back to start another slow and ultimately pointless build up play. They finished the game against Inter strongly so why that side minus Borini did not start against AEK is anyone's guess. Unlike most on here I do not know what Montella has achieved in his career that warranted this bench
on the 21st October, 2017 at 9:10pm
Dunno about systems as Milan have 3 very competent central defenders none of which is able to play as a full back. That way if they are drawn to that position they are found wanting. It works if at least 1 of those can play as a full back. The bigger issue is how slow they are in moving the ball. Too many players need far too many unnecessary touches. I know its a new team but there are no relationships at all in the side. That is becos of too much rotation I guess. Against AEK I saw Calabria
on the 21st October, 2017 at 9:06pm
@ Sam

I agree a 100% with you Sam. I never liked a back 3 system; although I was willing to put my personal opinions aside if it worked. For me, 4-3-3 is the way to go. I really think Montella is being stubborn, considering that he hasn't tweaked the system. I feel when building a team, foundations are needed, during the summer I heard Montella speak constantly about this, our foundation is the 4-3-3 with Suso and Bonaventura in playing on the wings, if not the why not try using a 3-4-3 system
on the 21st October, 2017 at 7:45am
AEK game comments.Clean sheet which is not surprising considering we played with a back 4 when not in possession(we've conceded at least 2 in our last 4 games with a back 3).In possession,we tried 352 & 442(Suso played better here) but we struggled with both coz we bypassed the midfield.Instead of bringing the ball to midfielders & letting them keep possession & create play,Bonucci constantly played unnecessary & useless long balls forward.This needs to be sorted out.Hope to see 442 again.
on the 20th October, 2017 at 10:10am
I agree with you and without going into much talk that kind of sums it up. Bonucci was brought over to be a defender 1st and foremost and instead of doing his job he has tried to do everything else and failed. Basically Milan have no leader in defense, no leader in midfield and no leader in their offense. The best teams have leaders everywhere throughout their teams.
on the 20th October, 2017 at 4:11am
indeed Montella until the time comes for him to move on. I agree the next 4 games are make or break. Until then let's just get behind the team and hope that they can turn it around. I just wish Montella could pick a starting 11 and stick with it.
on the 19th October, 2017 at 10:29pm
successful players in Serie A history and make him captain of a side that was leaderless. The failings are on the part of Montella who delayed in implementing the new formation and who continually rotated the side to the point that we're in October and we don't know who our starting line up is. But Montella is right about protecting the players. The Milan fans need to get behind the players or else this mob will end up going the same way as the last mob. We also need to stay behind the club and
on the 19th October, 2017 at 10:27pm
@ Sam Have we reached a stage where Bonucci is apparently not good enough for Milan? Is the problem Bonucci or Milan? How many players have been through Milan in recent years and under-performed? Nobody can seriously question the signing of a player who has been as successful as Bonucci. Plus there was nobody else who could be captain. As much as I love Jack he's probably not a long term option given we need better quality in the final third. It made complete sense to sign one of the most
on the 19th October, 2017 at 10:23pm
@ Sam Man City played 3-1-4-2 as recently as the Liverpool game in September. It seems hardly fair to rule out both Conte and Allegri's Juve when they are the first team in Serie A history to win 6 back to back titles and they've been in 2/3 Champions League finals mostly by playing 3 at the back with Bonucci in the middle. And then we can't even do a comparison with Barcelona players (and Chelsea, Leicester and other recent title winners who used minimal rotation).
on the 19th October, 2017 at 10:19pm
Conclusion,Montella is being an idiot/coddling Bonucci or Bonucci is backed by management.A Juve icon, comes to Milan and gets captaincy ahead of Jack and Romagnoli,takes Kessie's number,forces a change in formation,plays horribly and still starts every game.This is AC Milan and we are looking at a fifth year without CL.Montella should be sacked if he doesnt win the next 4 Serie A games(Juve included).It's possible.I recall Leonardo given 2 games vs Roma and Real to keep his job and won both.
on the 19th October, 2017 at 5:44pm
@Maldini'sHeir Man City and Dortmund currently play with a back 4 and like I said,other than Conte's teams,you'd have to go back to Roma 2001 to find a League winner with a back 3.Regardless,my main issue is Montella forcing a setup they havent worked on during the summer and look uncomfortable in.He scrapped the back 4 after 1 loss that Montolivo started and Romagnoli&Conti didnt play and Hakan&Jack came on after we conceded 4.Now,we've lost 3 in a row with a back 3 and he's unwilling to change
on the 19th October, 2017 at 5:24pm
@Maldinis heir you should not use Messi or any Barcelona player of Pep's era especially Messi as an example of non rotation because Barcelona used to enjoy at least 75% of possession in most games. Trust me that is not tiring especially when his team mates were creating space for him to use. It's a different matter both physically and mentally when you are not dominating, winning or playing in a clear consistent manner. I do find it odd that suso n bonavetura hardly combine
on the 19th October, 2017 at 10:22am
If anyone's still reading this I've been looking at some of Messi's stats. If we take a random season (14/15) Messi (this is actually unbelievable) played the full 90 mins in (guess what?) 55 games. FIFTY FIVE games??? He subbed twice; once starting and once coming on. He was rested for just 3 matches. So out of the 60 games that Barcelona played that season Messi was rested for just 3/60 matches. He scored 58 goals in 57 games. Forget about ability why can't every player play 58 games a season?
on the 19th October, 2017 at 9:01am
are using 3 at the back including Chelsea, Tottenham, Man City, Arsenal, Juventus, Lazio and Dortmund. Both Conte and Guardiola use the formation. Milan won the title with it in 98/99, Roma in 01/02 and Juventus since about 11/12. It's not my preferred formation but it's clearly possible to win with it if it's done right. When Montella does eventually leave I think Milan should go for Pochettino at Spurs. He's managed to implement the 3-4-3 system there to great effect.
on the 19th October, 2017 at 2:44am
The lack of uncertainty works its way through the whole team and effects our defence. Ultimately a team needs to play the formation that suits the players. Bonucci, Musacchio and Romagnoli are top defenders and have the perfect characteristics for a back 3; they're a little slow but all have a good sense of positioning, are comfortable on the ball and are the perfect balance of right and left footed. They have to work as a back 3 and indeed it's where Bonucci has excelled. A lot of teams these
on the 19th October, 2017 at 2:29am
@ Sam It's basically as Dan says below. The reason nobody looks comfortable in any formation is because the line up keeps changing. Montella acts like he's the first manager in history to have to play every 3 days. Messi has been playing every 3 days for the past 10 years. Players can cope. Sure we might have a small bit of rotation here and there but generally we should be working off a consistent line up. We should know who our first choice strikers are. Who are our first choice strikers?
on the 19th October, 2017 at 2:25am
@Maldini'sHeir:No one looks comfortable in a back 3.Bonucci & Donarumma look uncertain on who should go for the balls played between them.We're struggling to play the ball out which makes Bonucci the playmaker instead of Biglia.Wing backs are not sure about their defensive duties.Last season,we looked much more solid with a back 4 with Paletta and Zapata.Out of curiosity,other than Conte's teams,who has won a top League or CL over the last 10 years with 3 at the back?
on the 17th October, 2017 at 4:10pm
The team reeks of indecision. You don't know what the formation or line-up will be from one game to the next. They look so disjointed at times. In this regard they are the antithesis of Napoli. There are the occasional flashes of quality, but this is probably in spite of the coach & not because of him. It doesn't help that they signed so many players during the summer, but he really should have decided on a first choice 11 & system after pre-season & then allowed it to gel.
on the 17th October, 2017 at 12:55pm
Correction I meant Bonucci not Borini who is getting lots of stick some of it deserved some not
on the 17th October, 2017 at 12:52pm
Again 3 at the back is not the problem. Lots of very successful teams play it including Conte's league winning Juve and Chelsea. The issue is not the formation or the players but the manager. Bonucci and Biglia didn't suddenly become bad players over night. 3 more games seems fair. 6 points from Genoa and Chievo has to be the minimum if we're to have any chance of finishing in the top 4.
on the 17th October, 2017 at 9:52am
As for Borini before he is totally lambasted from all quarters remember he did not have a pre season and this is a new club for him virtually never played with almost the entire squad before
on the 17th October, 2017 at 9:25am
Imagine if you will that you are Abate, not long ago you were the captain of your club and now you have a second rate striker playing in your position ahead of you. I really do not get why Borini is in the squad let alone the team. Even Kessie would be a better choice if you have lost faith in both Abate. n Calabria. I honestly don't know what Milan's style of play is or what Montella is trying to achieve with the Borini bias
on the 17th October, 2017 at 9:22am
@DJ Sneijder

Lol you think the season is over after 7 games??
on the 17th October, 2017 at 6:58am
Inter may not have looked impressive but they​ never looked like they were going to lose. Milan always looked like they were at risk of giving up goals. Inter's goals were class Milan's goals​ were sloppy and more of a consequence of Inters mistakes. Milan did play better in the second the first 10 minutes were their most dangerous, but it was more down to individual desire than to any style of play they need to figure this out or it will get worse this seasonH
on the 17th October, 2017 at 3:41am
good team. These 2 maybe good businessmen but they really know nothing about football, let alone building a team from scratch. Before we start looking for a new coach, we need a new sporting director and a new plan that involves a fair amount of patience.
on the 17th October, 2017 at 3:18am
Goofy, is the word of the day, goofy campaign, buying whomever is available and selling reliable and not-so-reliable but nonetheless effective backups(Kucka, Niang).. Goofy coach, no matter the circumstances, this squad can't be so outsmarted by Sampdoria, Roma and destroyed by Lazio, I'm all for giving a coach the time he needs and I'm still against sacking him even now as stability is needed and this is not only his fault.. Goofy management for thinking a quick splash of cash will make a ..
on the 17th October, 2017 at 3:12am
Inter were the better team overall, despite a better second half by Milan. Spalletti nailed it in the conference. Milan threw everyone forward and went for it. borini stopped defending. Very easily could have been a rout if inter chose to be more attacking. Also inter's 2 biggest engines, broz and j Mario wer out. Second half both gags and Valero were desperate to come off. Both stopped running as were tired from controlling 1st half. Had broz and j Mario been available, could have gotten ugly
on the 17th October, 2017 at 12:29am
I said we needed a winger before the mercato ended (Keita) and only now Montella realizes it? Should have just kept Niang and Kucka.
On the positive, we showed heart and quality in 2nd half. Borini's performance did a complete U turn.
Jack and Suso!
Cutrone made an impact.

Milan should have won the game if not for stupid errors (BIGLIA and Bonucci) but Icardi was clinical.
Cannot believe Biglia's error leading up to goal 2. He was absolutely shocking tonight.
on the 16th October, 2017 at 11:36pm
Just want to say hi toall the Milan fans.

How does it feel to support such a failure of a football club. Your season is over already ha ha.

Take care and hail Bonucci the marker. Great job on Icardi!
on the 16th October, 2017 at 11:24pm

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