Friday October 26 2018
Worrying times for Gattuso & Milan

Successive defeats to Inter and Real Betis signal a major wake-up call for Gattuso and his Milan side, writes Matthew Santangelo.

When Gennaro Gattuso was handed an extension until 2021 by Milan’s former ownership in April, the club’s fan base were somewhat divided on the commitment to their ex-midfield enforcer. 

In one corner, you had those whose love and affection for ‘Rino’ the player, as well as his initial success in taking over the club from Vincenzo Montella, took precedence and warranted a new deal. Then there were the others, perhaps in the minority, who - despite being infatuated with his ‘grinta’, motivational tactics and spirit in an improbable run at a top four finish last season - feared he was in over his head and felt appointing a Coach like Antonio Conte was of paramount importance to the restoration plan of a fallen giant. As we have seen with the collective group of results thus far in the 2018-19 Serie A season, it seems as though the Rossoneri find themselves in yet another coaching quandary.

Despite Milan picking up more encouraging results heading into the last international break, supporters had raised plenty of doubts about the Italian and his credentials to coach under such pressurised circumstances. The winning mentality to handle provincial teams and put them to the sword is non-existent. Marginal leads are not built on to put fans at ease and convince the rest of the League that a Gattuso-led Milan are a force to be reckoned with. Instead, the seven-time champions of Europe have struggled to forge a true identity in how they wish to perform, leaving them prone to conceding and dropping points in the process. 

What seemed liked a turning point for Milan with three straight wins against Sassuolo, Olympiacos and Chievo prior to the break has now become a mirage with the two most recent performances for the club. Disregarding the late winner from Mauro Icardi to give Inter victory in the Derby della Madonnina, Gattuso’s tactics and overall approach were dull and did not transmit desire to chase a win. In a scoreless derby against an arch-rival, a conservative mindset is simply unacceptable and will only bring attention to a distinct lack of a consistent, winning blueprint, which happened to be the case during Thursday’s abysmal 2-1 defeat to Real Betis in front of the home crowd.

Gattuso elected to rotate his starting XI at San Siro but stood by his 4-3-3 formation. And as we quickly learned, it was to be yet another lackluster day at the office for the red and black. Building out from the back has been effective in very brief spurts this season yet induces heart palpitations and moments of both concern and boredom. Certain individuals keep hold of the ball too long and the narrow passing windows shut, before resetting play becomes the only option. The players are not creating the space to open passing lanes to advance play and effectively push forward to break down the opposition. Instead, that was exactly what Betis boss Quique Setien sought to accomplish and succeeded in doing.

Yes, you can pin some of the blame on reserves like Tiemoue Bakayoko, Fabio Borini and Cristian Zapata, who have no business turning out for a Milan team with Champions League aspirations. Yet it is very alarming to see such an inadequate showing against a Real Betis team who, while boasting a few notable talents in Paris Saint-Germain loanee Giovani Lo Celso and one-time Real Madrid starlet Sergio Canales, were by no means expected to control in the manner they did. 

Sporting director Leonardo, Paolo Maldini and Elliott Management will continue to back their manager when confronted by the media, but the hot-seat gets hotter with each and every failing performance. If defeat to Inter wasn’t already a loud enough wake-up call for Gattuso then the loss last night should be. 

Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports and get your first month free. £5.99 thereafter until September with promo code: ITALIA

Have your say...
Milan should leave San Siro and build their own 60.000 seater stadium. That way they can afford better players in the long run.
on the 31st October, 2018 at 11:12pm
LoL its always so funny to see all the internet experts and their myopic opinions. This thread is FUNNY. You all have the answers, maybe you should be the coach lol.

Forza Milan.
on the 30th October, 2018 at 5:39pm
I dont understand how Milan can justify signing Paqueta for €35m when they have huge debt and a negative transfer balance this summer. They must go through several years with a very slim budget and pray for the mercy of UEFA if they are going to be just slightly competitive.
on the 28th October, 2018 at 9:06am
The single most important person at a club is the manager. If you want to be a top team you need a top manager and Gattuso is not a top manager. Before Conte came to Juve he'd had success. Same with Ferguson before United. Gattuso had a poor record before coming to Milan and his record at Milan is the same as it was before. Until Milan have a proper manager it's pointless talking about the players.
on the 27th October, 2018 at 11:32am
How is Higuain your problem? Its your goal keepers. Both had shocking displays
on the 27th October, 2018 at 5:53am
You guys are right - Samu and Laxalt still have potential and we should withhold judgement for now.
My main point is that Milan didn't succeed in
1) getting a pacey winger who takes on his man,
2) proper cover for Kessie and Biglia.
Now our first midfield option from the bench is Bakayoko and it's unacceptable.
We're still fielding Borini as LW and even Cutrone sometimes.
Hakan isn't a LW either.
Gattuso always played 433 last season yet we never picked up a proper winger.
on the 27th October, 2018 at 3:14am
Milan need an experienced manager no newbies. They need guarantees not experimentation. They have been bad for too long. The squad is not that bad, I think its Gatusso's fault that they are failing. Look at Anchelotti doing wonders with the trash Napoli has. Milan has a more talented squad than Napoli. GET RID OF GATUSSO or its all over. Milan should go for Conte.
on the 27th October, 2018 at 1:01am
1st off get rid of Biglia. 2nd, start Crutone and Higuain. Use Suso as possible swap for either or every 3 games. Better yet GET BACK Silva and Locatelli. Borini bless him,he has played at some big clubs Liverpool Roma Chelsea BUT plays with absolutely no experience or true talent. If he hasn’t blossomed by now he will never. He’s entire career has been a flop. Why does Milan keep buying players who are utterly useless? I’m all for Prandelli. Gattuso is a Serie B level best.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 11:28pm
Sam Crow - Especially that teams know this and they are pressing us high.

PrimoCalcio - Samu is decent. He cannot lead a team with Borinis, Bakayokos, ... If he plays with the first team he will do well. He can play on both wings, so you need someone like that.
Laxalt was needed for covering up the left back.

The main question, if we knew we will not play Montolivo, why did we sell Locatelli? If Biglia is injured, what do we do?
on the 26th October, 2018 at 8:02pm
I think with the current group of players they should try a 4-2-3-1:


This would allow for the greatest utilization of our attacking midfielders in various combinations.

They should get rid of Donnarumma and his dead-beat brother while sending Higuain back at the end of the season to balance the budget. Let Plizz develop or get Perin when he tires of the Juve bench.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 7:12pm

I only agree with you on Bakayoko. I think Higuain was a mistake. So sad to see Cutrone on the bench when it seemed that this season he could have taken the next step. He's a combination of Inzaghi(60%) and Bierhoff(40%) and he's Milan through and through. He's got the energy of a 6 month old kitten. Higuain just jogs around and complains. He only scores against the small teams. Castijello gets spot starts so we don't know his worth, and Laxalt was only for depth.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 7:03pm
People are now trying to scapegoat Higauin which is laughable, guy has spent his entire career being a world class finisher and that is what he is. He isnt a striker who will create for you or himself he needs service and so far he has received little. Honestly, I struggle to comprehend what some people on this site expect from certain players. Rino has done a good job but perhaps it may be time for a change, I hope this form is temporary and we get back to where we were before the break v Samp.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 6:22pm
The constant pass backs and this infatuation with starting the play from the back is just terrible and so predictable. Awful!!!! Just awful!!!!
on the 26th October, 2018 at 5:25pm
Milan's squad isn't on the level of Napoli, Inter, Juve so whoever is coach needs to get the best out of them to have a chance at CL qualification.

I hope whoever Milan bring in, they do so at the right time and with a clear plan to get back to UCL. Conte is the clear choice but I don't know if he suits the project.

FFP makes it hard but apart from the Higuain/Caldara deal Leonardo's mercato was poor. Bakayoko, Samu, and Laxalt were uninspiring and inadequate to address the squad's key issues.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 5:10pm
The matches against Inter and Betis were just so worryingly bad that anything other than a complete turn-around against Sampdoria will probably seal Rino's fate.
I agree, Rino'd be wise to freshen up the formation - and play Cutrone close to goal.
Even Higuain was poor in the last 2 matches.

It's sad because Rino did some great work, forged an identity after Montella, played the youth, started this season reasonably well, and the player speak very highly of him.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 5:00pm
Other replacements WHO are better than Gattuso

Spalletti´s dog
Selena Gomez
Pope Francis
A monkey
on the 26th October, 2018 at 4:48pm
Gatusso was a great defensive mid but wtf is he going to give you going forward? Gatusso can plug the leak but I doubt he is able to improve the quality of the team moving forward. And for those calling for Conte, if you have any hopes of winning anything in Europe, stay away, just as stubborn, even more.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 4:15pm
Gattuso's stubbornness to change formation and tactics is what will get him the sack. The 4 3 3 clearly isn't working and the way he presses the opposition when they have the ball. Switch to a 4 2 3 1 it suits the team best. Go even a 4 2 2 2 if you want two strikers. Somethings got to change and it's been the same 4 3 3 since he took over and changed from 3 5 2. Way too stubborn to change tactics that don't work no more. Calhanoglu in the middle flanked by bona and suso will be more productive
on the 26th October, 2018 at 2:51pm
Momentum is very important in football. I don't understand why Gattuso put a team without any creative elements against Betis. The only players who have the potential to break the opponent's defensive line are Jack and Castillejo, but they were absent. Castillejo cannot be given too much reponsibility too early. Who was Gattuso counting on for a creative spark? Borini? Bakayoko? Suso, Hakan, or Kessie should've started this game.
Defensively why is Zapata starting ahead of Caldara?
on the 26th October, 2018 at 2:18pm
Possible replacements WHO are better than Gattuso

Van Gaal
on the 26th October, 2018 at 1:11pm
It is always going to be difficult times when decisions to sell good players and bring in average players continues. We waste to much time and money on average players and not enough on good home grown talent.
Trying to bring the heart and spirit back to this Milan will take more than putting Maldini on the board and Gattuso on the bench. Gattuso should be assistant manager and Conte should be brought in. I think sacking Gattuso would be incorrect as he is a strong character to have.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 12:31pm
Higuani was a big mistake.
Dude is lazy. Cutrone is Our best striker. Works hard and scores goals, moves alot give the other opportunity to make passing Plays.

The deffence after bonucci lost confidence.
Milan should get Thiago Silva back for 1-2 years it will help alot.

Also a 37year old Zlatn would gurantee atleast consistency compared to higuain.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 10:59am
Why is a man like Prandelli not being mentioned as an replacement.

He is better that gattuo, good with talents, tactical fleksible, og konws the liga and is avaible
on the 26th October, 2018 at 10:56am
Milan should've grabbed Conte before Real, now it might be too late.

It's disappointing to see Milan like this for so long. It's a matter of time before they look for a replacement (if not already) and I hope they get someone with experience this time. Enough gambling with young inexperienced managers.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 10:51am
Seriously wtf is Gattuso doing. He was a great player, mainly because of hes grit. As a coach, Ive seen ZERO improvement. The only thing he have achieved is playing with a lot of Younger.
on the 26th October, 2018 at 9:55am

Post new comment

Your email address is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
If you have your own website, enter its address here.
Maximum 500 characters.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Your responses will be moderated, and sometimes edited, by Football Italia before appearing on the site. Your data may be made public and you accept our Privacy Policy. Please keep your comments clean and try to keep them relevant to the blog above. We reserve the right to reject views that we deem unsuitable for publication.