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Saturday March 3 2018
Gattuso saviour of Milan

Milan needed a man who could rforge a team and unite the fans. They found him in the unexpected form of Gennaro Gattuso, writes Adam Summerton.

Following the latest false Milan revival at the beginning of this season, I can recall looking at their situation and thinking how they needed a coaching saviour to take on one of the most difficult jobs in football.

Further financial splurge was not an option after a complex buy-out and the restrictions of FFP, so it needed someone with great personality and coaching prowess to get Milan out of a mess and back on the up. Someone, ideally, who could also tap in to the club’s under-appreciated yet very productive academy.

The problem was that Milan had become the sort of club that many top Coaches would no longer risk their reputation on. Names like Ancelotti and Conte were mentioned but with their stock so high it would have been extremely difficult to persuade them, or others like them, to gamble their reputations on a job which comes with huge pressure, scrutiny and expectation, yet far less in terms of the guarantees that come with other jobs of comparable size.

I’ll hold my hands up and say Gennaro Gattuso was not a name that immediately sprung to mind. And if Milan fans are honest, I doubt many of them were truly inspired by his appointment and promotion from the Primavera side in late November.

Described by Carlo Ancelotti as “the soul” of his Milan side, there is no questioning Gattuso’s playing achievements. He won 10 major honours with the Rossoneri, including two Serie A titles, and the Champions League twice – not to mention a World Cup with Italy.  

But his coaching CV, although still in its infancy, was nowhere near as impressive. His first two appointments at FC Sion and Palermo spanned just 11 games between them – he lasted 17 matches at OFI Crete and ended up being relegated from Serie B with Pisa in May 2017, despite having the league’s best defensive record.

All this hardly seemed ideal preparation for what’s still one of the biggest jobs in European football, yet his short-term impact has been nothing short of remarkable. He’s taken a playing staff of confidence-deprived individuals and, within a few months, transformed them in to a well-functioning unit – a united team of footballers who, without exception, buy into the tactics and the system they are being asked to implement… and it’s getting results.

The Rossoneri are now 13 games unbeaten in all competitions, winning 10 of them – they’ve kept six clean-sheets in a row – they’re through to the Coppa Italia Final and they’ll meet Arsenal in the Europa League’s last 16.

Leonardo Bonucci is starting to look like the Ballon d’Or nominated defender we all knew he was, as his partnership with Alessio Romagnoli gets better with every game. Giacomo Bonanventura looks rejuvenated, Davide Calabria is seriously kicking on. Franck Kessie is developing well under a Coach to whom he can truly relate, Patrick Cutrone is drawing comparisons with Pippo Inzaghi and Gianluigi Donnarumma is celebrating not conceding goals in the way we’ve seen Gigi Buffon do for years.

Many more individuals are also worthy of a mention, but the crucial thing to emphasise here is that this is now a team. For the first time in years, I look at Milan and see a group of players who are all in it together and who all believe in the Coach. The defending, if you can appreciate that side of the game, is exceptional at times – as is the organisation, the energy and the tactical discipline.

These are all qualities many would associate with Antonio Conte, and in fact Bonucci has already said Gattuso reminds him of the former Juventus Coach. A man who took over the Bianconeri in a difficult period, without a league title in eight seasons (officially), Juventus had finished seventh in the two seasons prior to Conte’s arrival. A bit like the Milan of today, Juve took a chance on an emerging Coach and club legend who oozed charisma, determination and ferocity. Many will point out Conte also had the head start of two Serie B promotions under his belt. But for me there are undoubted parallels, and if Gattuso can have even half the impact that Conte did at Juventus, then he’ll have done very well indeed.

Have your say...
LOL loosing 0-2 to limped Arsenal in home turf. What a glorious Milan!!!

Thank you Gattuso!

You're the SAVIOUR of MILAN!

Along with Mighty "clown" Bonucci.

Hahahaha...
on the 9th March, 2018 at 1:05pm
@viktor
Inevitably, some fans will be this obnoxious. Might be telling how a Juve fan goes out of his way to troll Milan (see the blog about a hard fought victory over Spurs)

That aside, I agree that the numbers don't lie. I had my serious doubts about Gattuso, and they've only become a bit smaller with or without the Arsenal loss. I'll gladly eat my words about his appointment when league form continues like this or there's a strong reaction after a few bad results.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 9:30am
@GIANCARLO C's Mom

"premature compliments for Gattuso"

Premature???? Lets put it this way, its one thing to knowing fotboll or not, but lets talk NUMBERS because it seems like you cannot comprehend. 15 games without a loss 4 conceded in 15 games... Doesnt those numbers speak for them self???
on the 8th March, 2018 at 12:49pm
I never said Gattuso is a terrible coach. Itu was you MILANISTI. And now you are trying to cover it up with some premature compliments for Gattuso. It's a disgusting scenery! LOL

Win something before you dare to compare an amateur coach Gattuso with the legendary Conte. You can dream as long as you like but no champion coaches would go to this typical "almost broke" mid table team. Including Ancelotti.
on the 8th March, 2018 at 6:13am
To be fair to him, the signs were showing at Pisa that he knew what he was doing. Yes they got relegated but was able to create the best defensive unit with a relegated side, defensive organisation is the hardest thing to implement as a manager and Rino showed here he can do this. With a vastly improved attack at Milan he has maintained his sides defensive prowess and now is finding his team scoring goals as he has the striker in Cutrone and the creativity in Jack and Suso to do so.
on the 7th March, 2018 at 5:44pm
GIANCARLO C's Mom

Sounds like you started watching football in 2011 .... educate yourself before become an embarrassment
If you are going to make an argument use facts and don't let your lack of knowledge again ...embarrass you
on the 6th March, 2018 at 4:22pm
I would bet any money that he will be fired by this time next season .
on the 6th March, 2018 at 3:29pm
I think Gattuso is doing a good job but a bit too early to celebrate him. Milan has won nothing yet and is not back in the Champions League just yet. Forza Juve and RIP Astori. 
on the 4th March, 2018 at 5:30pm
@GIANCARLO C's Mom

CLUELESS?????


bahahahah midtabble... Ok lets go over it againg 14 games without defeat, 6 without concededing, 4 goals conceded in15 games, knocking out inter in the cup, knocking out Lazio in the cup away and beating roma away within 5 days.

Show SOME respect at least we all know that as it is for now he is doing marvelous things.

And let me remind you Rhino was just as much of a legend as Conte players.
on the 4th March, 2018 at 9:27am
@Giancarlo - Don’t clown. Gattuso’s effect is nothing short of amazing. Nobody is truly comparing him to Conte, including Rino himself. But what he has been able to achieve with this team is remarkable considering the team was pretty much written off for the season when Montella left. Having fire and grit is not enough to win games unless you can impose it into your players. We all thought Rino would shake things up with his passion and Calabrese ways, but he’s done a fantastic job thus far!
on the 4th March, 2018 at 2:51am
LOL Clueless Gattuso is being compared to Genius Conte. This is an insult for the Juventus legend.

From the way they play under Gattuso, There's nothing extraordinary. That's how "the mid table teams" should play.
on the 3rd March, 2018 at 11:09pm
Hows was it unexpected? If I had to name 1 player in the last 20 years who could come in and forge grit, commitment and passion unity and brotherhood into a side it would have been Gattuso.
on the 3rd March, 2018 at 10:55pm

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