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Thursday November 2 2017
Montella can revive Milan again

Vincenzo Montella fixed Milan’s problems once and he can do it again, writes Richard Hall, if given time.

The Duomo di Milano sits proudly in the aptly named Piazza del Duomo and is perhaps the ever- present symbol of Milanese patience. The ground was broken to create the structure in 1386 and it was officially completed in 1965. The city’s second cathedral, at San Siro, has also evolved over the years and it is perhaps to these great creations that fans of the Rossoneri should look to when beckoning in change. Their team is also undergoing a vast facelift and, whilst the results are not yet as beautiful as they want right now, there is reason to be patient.

Vincenzo Montella is, as will be in any such situation where a team is struggling for form, the focal point for the anger and is largely held responsible for the current situation. Remember what he walked into back in 2016, what he changed under difficult circumstances and how he was lauded at the end of the last campaign. The world has changed in a summer for the Rossoneri and, like the Duomo and San Siro, a new structure is being built on the old one. This takes time, but the blueprint is there.

When Montella arrived, he had five key objectives to make the rag-tag bunch of players he saw before him operate like a Milan that the fans could associate with again. Firstly, he had to shore up a defence that had shipped 50 goals in 2014-15 and 43 in 2015-16. Secondly, he had to utilise the youth system, as Milan didn’t have cash in abundance to spend at this point, but the Primavera had been praised for its youth development, so the challenge was set. Thirdly, he would have to be able to be tactically and strategically aware. Marcello Lippi once told Gianluca Vialli when he started coaching that you must have a strategy before tactics, especially with players being dropped in and out of the team.

His fourth task was to re-create a Milanese identity, allowing Milan fans to connect with a club that they had struggled to lately. Finally, he had to do this whilst managing expectations, as the takeover hadn’t happened yet and the Rossoneri had to live within their means.

When the dust settled on the 2016-17 season, Montella looked at his checklist and saw five ticks. He had improved the defence, they had qualified for Europe and Gigio Donnarumma had been a revelation. This also proved point two, as Donnarumma and numerous players like Manuel Locatelli had come into the spotlight and were performing. The tactics were attacking and easy on the eye and they were being referred to as ‘Baby Milan’. The fans were happy with the progress and the future was bright. Five ticks.

Much has been said about the new Far Eastern investment, the entirely new team, the results against Juventus, the Derby and all the other defeats. The season that started with such hope is now being touted by many as a failure, but this isn’t so. Recent results against Chievo and arguably in the defeat to ‘The Old Lady’ have shown signs of promise and the team still needs time to gel. Montella is getting the message through, but before the media or fans jump to say it isn’t quick enough, they should ask themselves a question.

Has Montella now got to sort out the same five challenges he had to last season all over again? Despite increased quality, the defence must gel, they will need time and work. This is proven by the fact he has had to adapt a new tactical strategy, a body of work that doesn’t happen overnight. He also has to find a way to integrate the best of last year’s youth policy with the influx of stars, not an easy task when that amount of money has been spent. Whatever happened to Baby Milan? Who are they now? What is the new identity? Worst and perhaps the hardest of all of these, is the fact that he has to manage the fans’ expectations, a task so complex due to the pomp and ceremony of the new money and new arrivals.

With or without Montella, these problems are real in Milan, they will exist for him or the next man. Perhaps the reason Marco Fassone has said ‘Milan are going in the right direction’ is because he knows one thing. Vincenzo has proven in worse circumstances that he can fix these problems and the results are for everyone to see. Now the new ownership is simply letting him do it all over again. Milan as a city has an impressive way of creating great institutions, they just don’t happen overnight.

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Have your say...
I actually think Milan's participation in the Europa League has worked against them, with all the squad rotation. When you have so many new players squad rotation is very disruptive in getting players to play together. And with Napoli and Athletico Madrid etc. likely to drop down to the Europa League, winning it is will be very difficult. I would rather they concentrate on Serie A and stop rotating so much.
on the 7th November, 2017 at 12:00pm
From what i read the only real alternative at the moment is Gattuso, and i don't see why we would go gor that. His main thing is that he might be able to wake up a few players, but he is already on the books, so bring him in as a motivational speaker, have him on the touchline along with Montella for a few matches and in training, and let him make it clear what it took to get to 3 cl finals in 5 years...
on the 4th November, 2017 at 11:00pm
Personnaly I do not care who takes over our team. Gattuso could be a better alternative to Montella, if he manages to activate its players, mostly through a "shout". It seems that our team has no ideas, they just walk around, play the boll back and do not open space for others. I was in Athens in both UCL finals and I remember what wonderful games we had. And on Thursday, my relatives in Greece just loughed at me...ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
on the 4th November, 2017 at 5:42pm
Why is Gattuso the only option available if/when we get rid of Montella? Gus Hiddink has come in countless times midway through seasons and turned teams around. Mazzari, while not a long term option, could do a job in the short term. Why not disrupt Atalanta or Sampdoria by stealing their managers? Paolo Sousa? And just how much money would it take to convince Ancelloti? There's plenty of options.
on the 4th November, 2017 at 11:28am
I am no fan of montella i think he needs to go but for me it is case of him leaving at the end of the season. I just don't see what coach milan could bring in who is capable of installing a clear identity whilst getting the best out of this group of players mid season.

It is partially a hangover from the last 5 years under berlusconi there really wasn't a worthwhile group of senior players capable of showing the youngsters how to perform how to win you know what to expects from zapata and mont
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 11:39pm
No he can't! Get a proper manager or we will finish mid-table and no way on earth we are going to win Europa league!
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 5:00pm
Montella needs to go.The team is completely lost and u can see the frustration on most of the players.Locatelli was visibly and rightfully mad yesterday while Cutrone didnt seem to see the point in trying.I'm hoping Gattuso takes over.He's not completely new to coaching like Pippo and Seedorf were and his team is only 3 pts off the top.I bet we wont get ridiculous post match comments from him and maybe he'll put a stop to the infuriating Bonucci tweets.
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 1:12pm
i agree with maldinis heir.
we had a verry Strong spine.
there was never a need to buy 11 new players in the first year.
maybe if your team was full of loosers.
but we had for the first time a baby milan.
where maldinis and baresis are born out of it.
now they destroeyd the wole baby milan in order the big Money players gets some time
but it was baby milan who worked together and made montella where he is in milan now
we lost kucka and bacca even lapadulla should have given time
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 1:07pm
It really would have helped if milan didn't sell kucka especially when a deal for pasalic wasn't feasible. Milan has pretty much lost all it reference points in midfield probably a big reason for milan malaise so far this season. It just adds to a lack of identity and effectiveness from this team.
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 1:03pm
Even last season towards the end milan showed a lack of team identity now they have virtually signed a new team is seems to inflated the problem. Still montella is at fault he is constantly changing tactics personal and formation he doesn't know his best 11. I don't know whether it is down to pressure from he management but he seems to stick with the new signings. In any case i don't see what can be gained by getting rid of montella at this point of time without a better manager being brought in
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 12:58pm
Forget the mistakes of the past.The question is what can be done now to save the season.(1)Abandon the back 3.We're getting no extra security from the extra defender & no added value up front from the wing backs.A back 4 would give us a much needed extra man up the pitch.(2)The regista,not Bonucci,should be bringing the ball from the back & initiating play.(3)Play fewer long balls.(4)Make more use of Cutrone,Silva,Locatelli,& MAURI!!!
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 12:46pm
Poor Milanisti. I predicted this will happen actually. You can't just but lots of players and expect them to bond so quickly and get results. Patience is key. I am just surprised how much of you changed your minds suddenly. Before you Milanisti were expecting to win the Serie A. Overconfidence is bluffing as they say. Anyway, I hope Milan get top 4 next season, its good for calcio
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 12:34pm
Towards the end of last season Milan had an identity...pressing, possession soccer and it all just vanished...the new players lack confidence and its hampering the process we made last season. And the expectations did not do us any good, because it comes with loads of pressure.My only criticism about the transfer campaign was letting Bacca go and replacing him with Kalinic...If you let someone go, be prepared to bring in someone better...So what now...wait??????
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 10:12am
Not patient enough for Montella. No, he demanded 12 new signings and is surprised that the team is taking too much time to gel. So how about we find a manager with a bit more patience? And who can beat teams below his.
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 8:27am
Calling for patience when Montella showed no patience with players is also a bit rich. What exactly did Kucka and Bacca do wrong last season? Why didn’t he show more faith in Romagnoli, Calabria, Locatelli and Cutrone rather than blocking them with new signings? I had all the patience in the world. 2-3 good quality signings this summer to boost a side that finished 6th and then we push for 3rd or 4th. Then we consolidate and then we challenge for the title. Patient enough for you?
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 8:25am
The single biggest reason I objected to all of the summer signings was because it would take too long for a new team to gel. So when that is the exact thing that has happened you bet I criticise. It’s like telling someone not to press that red button and then they press the red button and the emergency door opens and they blame the red button. Montella wanted to press the red button. I’m not going to sit here and start blaming it. Me, a randomer on the internet should not need to point this out.
on the 3rd November, 2017 at 8:22am

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