Questions have surrounded Milan throughout the entire season, from Gennaro Gattuso’s shaky start out of the gate and concerns over the quality at his disposal being sufficient, to the injury outbreak plaguing the Rossoneri’s quest for a top four finish. Despite the utter depletion of the squad however, Gattuso has managed to stave off mounting pressure over his job status and have his Milan in a favourable position with one month remaining in 2018.
Lucas Biglia, Mattia Caldara, Alessio Romagnoli, Mateo Musacchio, and Giacomo Bonaventura all currently sit on the sidelines with injuries – some more serious than others. At no point this 2018-19 Serie A campaign has the animated Italian boss appreciated the luxury of a fully fit squad to work with. Yet, with a bit of flair for the dramatics in the form of comeback victories, stars like Suso doing much of the heavy lifting, and Chelsea bust Tiémoué Bakayoko rediscovering his Monaco form, Milan seem to have steadied the ship through turbulent waters.
Through 14 matches, the Rossoneri are the sole possessor of 4th place in the table, ahead of direct competitors in Lazio and Roma – and just four points off rivals Inter in third. In addition to their current league positioning, the San Siro outfit are favored to advance out of their Europa League group as they sit just one point behind Real Betis in second and three ahead of Olympiacos.
By no means have Milan been convincing in their collective efforts to this point, and warning signs persist in spite of their recent climb into Champions League zone that the club can regress. But by piecing it together down the stretch here when the fixture list is a bit friendlier, and several close competitors are struggling for form, Milan’s fortunes have turned when they are in need of it most.
Consider the end of December as Milan’s major checkpoint for the season. Prior to the shifting in calendar to 2019, the Champions League hopefuls have five league matches on the docket - Torino (H), Bologna (A), Fiorentina (H), Frosinone (A) and SPAL (H) - as well as a pivotal Group F encounter with Olympiakos to determine who follows Real Betis into the Round of 32.
On paper, Milan must fancy their chances at capping off the calendar year strong and circumventing any sort of hurdles into January, which promises to be a very active for sporting director Leonardo and heralded club legend turned director Paolo Maldini. But of course, Gattuso must not take anything to chance and will do everything in his power to ensure his group’s resilient approach through the injury crisis sees the club in prime position for a second half run towards a top four finish – with health and significant reinforcement at the heart of it.