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Wednesday December 5 2018
Milan hanging tough despite injury crisis

The Rossoneri’s documented injury record threatened to derail their early-season hopes of top four, but Gennaro Gattuso and his squad have coped well, writes Matthew Santangelo.

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.
 

Have your say...
Gattuso needs to leave. and why is calhanouglu stepping foot on a pitch in a milan kit. cant run, cant pass, cant dribble, can only shoot yet not dribble to get free for a shot. guy is garbage winger. Gattuso needs to leave just because of the fact we crash out of EL needing a goal, yet entire team is defending rather than attacking. NOBODY IS MOVING FORWARD WITHOUT THE BALL. fullbacks too deep. center mids TOO deep. CalHANOUGLU IS ON THE PITCH
on the 13th December, 2018 at 10:56pm
@Viktor

as i said i hope rather than expect besides it has happened when milan brought deulofeu on loan he brought balance to the milan attack the team actually had interchanging wide players something we milan fans haven't seen in years.

This team has been put together by several madman with vastly different ideas on how to build. Even if gattuso isn't the manager for milan he needs to be given time to build a team which makes sense. It really isn't as simple as blaming the coach
on the 7th December, 2018 at 9:27pm
As usual a lot of complaining and unrealistic commentary. If any of you were told at the beginning of this season that we would be in fourth in december despite no available first choice center backs and two first choice midfielders, you would all have denied it. Further that we would only lose to Inter and tie Lazio on injury time goals, as well as play all teams above us and in contention strong, you would have denied it. Just enjoy the progression of this club and manager. Things will improve
on the 7th December, 2018 at 4:30pm
superior” Serie A is or how some players cannot “cut it”. The fact is the Spanish league is the best league in Europe and has the Champions and Europa League trophies to prove it. If Silva is dong well in Spain then Italian teams need to start asking themselves why is Serie A not getting the best out of talent. Paqueta has the attributes for Spain. We’ll see what he does in Serie A.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 10:51pm
@ Dani My issue with Gattuso is that he has no experience and is largely untested. The manager makes such a difference that I just don’t think a team like Milan should be taking punts. A punt can still pay off. And so far this punt is - sort of. There’s very little point judging players including Silva and Samu. The fact is players under-perform at Milan. We’ve seen far too many come and go. In the case of Silva he’s gone and done well at Sevilla. I’m not interested in hearing how “tactically
on the 6th December, 2018 at 10:48pm
@MaldiniHeir I agree with Paqueta, not entirely sold on him yet but can't help but be optimistic with Leo, Kaka, Maldini and Rino there with him. Bakayoko went from useless to tactically pivotal under Gattuso so anything is possible.

@dami If Milan make UCL I'd bring back Silva if possible. You need more depth at that point.
Samu still has time but I don't think he was ever that great a fit in the first place. Happy to be proved otherwise though.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 6:44pm
Surprised to see people say that Castillejo has failed aswell. Fair enough Laxalt has been poor but I think people had too high expectations for Samu, he came in to be an option off the bench for both wings with pace and he's been just that. His pace has helped open up teams like against Roma late on. On Bakayoko he really seems to be making strides, if he can continue this form then we shouldnt think twice about buying him, hes been arguably our best player since the Inter game.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 3:24pm
Young Patrick played his way into not being loaned out last year, Silva couldnt even play his way ahead of a failing Kalinic. Silva has 1 league goal since September, people here obviously just read his stats. Paqueta will bring back some flair which we have lacked since Ibra tbh, if Rino can help to shape his game team wise without discouraging his flair then we could have a real force of a player going forward from midfield that we've lacked since Kaka.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 3:21pm
@Maldini's Heir wow for once nothing negative to say about Rino, suppose he's winning even you over.

The love for Silva here is absurd, granted he's been good at Sevilla but we have Cutrone to develop, we dont need a second young striker. people here were complaining at the start of the year that we had no experienced striker and now want for us to bring back Silva to partner him with young Patrick. Make your minds up people. The guy showed nothing special at Milan unlike Cutrone did.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 3:18pm
@paolo

So you think that Paqueta will bring "balance" to the team... Thats an interesting thought.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 10:09am
Castillejo needs more playing time just as Bakayoko got from the injury of Biglia. The biggest regret was loaning Andre Silva as he has big talent. Just play him (Silva) alongside Cutrone for a month or two and you will get the result. The problem was just playing time.
Once Caldara, Romagnoli, Bonaventura, Mussachio are back then these squad is 80% complete. Also with the talent like Paqueta coming.
on the 6th December, 2018 at 2:16am
i think people have unrealistic expectations of milan which nothing new the team may look good on paper but it is a real mess in terms of a functional team. The transfer under galliani was suicidal under m and f is was completely unfocused under leonardo it has been fairly decent. Trying to make sense of it all without 4 starters plus a couple of important subs is hard going so in that sense gattuso has done well. I really hope that paqueta can bring some balane to this milan team.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 10:23pm
@ Jad completely agree.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 9:10pm
YouTube he seems to do the sort of things that Gattuso hates. So that’ll be an interesting relationship. Whatever about the media creating a news cycle, sporting directors justifying their existence and agents creaming transfer fees, I really wish that fans would support the players they have rather than constantly wishing and hoping for some new wonder transfer. It’d be good if not everything in life was as temporary as a person’s wardrobe.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 9:07pm
Obviously everyone is getting very excited about the January transfer window. Apparently for a team that is currently sitting fourth to finish fourth it needs to sign another load of players. With the injury crisis it probably makes sense to sign players but with Milan linked to 3-4 players it looks like we’ll be changing nearly a third of the starting line up. And then we’ll wait for the players to “adjust”. My prediction is that Paqueta’s not going to work out too well. Looking at his videos
on the 5th December, 2018 at 9:02pm
Romagnoli didn’t make an error against Empoli or Lazio or Inter didn’t get a last minute goal or Higuain didn’t miss the penalty against Juve. All of that could’ve cost Milan the title. Yes, the title. Equally last minute goals by Romagnoli against Udinese and Genoa probably balanced things out. So we are where we should be. In the coveted Champions League spot. Well done Gattuso.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 8:58pm
He’s done an excellent job. I’ve questioned his abilities and/or experience but the fact is that nobody knows Gattuso’s level because incredibly it’s his first job in Serie A. He may be the next Conte. We don’t know but at the moment he’s definitely showing some signs. If nothing else he’s engrained a level of toughness in the side. Football comes down to moments and there’s many moments this season which could’ve gone differently. If there are parallel universes perhaps there’s one where
on the 5th December, 2018 at 8:54pm
Experience keeper on the bench on a counter we are slow , the last game against Parma we should have been 3 goals upwards but kessie was too selfish goals different would have helped at one point in the league, Rino has a lot of work to do how team Runs a lot first half and get worked out the second half with no impact please Management key work Forza Milan , what’s the point of buying players when you don’t give them a chance to play ? Manage the ones you have Silva didnt play much so Management
on the 5th December, 2018 at 8:47pm
Rino is the major problem with the injury crisis he doesn’t rotate the squad he use the same starting eleven each game then ask yourself how come 4-6 starters are all injuried at the same time ? His management is poor , substitute making and reading games are always poor , he was stubborn as a player but as a coach sometimes you have to be liberal and objective , there are times Suso isn’t in a game why play him for 90mins same goes to how overrated goalkeeper when we have an experienced one
on the 5th December, 2018 at 8:43pm
Rino and the squad deserve massive credit turning the season around after the derby. The amount of injuries in insane and it's unfortunate we'll be forced to make some emergency signings in Januray.
I don't hate the idea of Fabregas but I'd prefer someone like Sensi, who'd only come in the summer.
Unless it's Godin no more CBs please.
This team is growing and only a couple more intelligent signings are needed to complete it. Too many could throw things in disarray.
Excited to see Paqueta.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 7:18pm
Taking into account all that happened with Milan, they are doing great. CL can be a dream, but ending up in the EL is not a failure all things considering. Hope Gatusso stays until the end of the season at least, he may not be the best tactician, but he gave Milan the helmsman and that at the moment is more important IMO.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 7:10pm
No Silva should not come back, he was pretty awful for us and we need to focus on our one youth talent up top, Cutrone. His ceiling is higher than Silva's and he's already scoring for us. Cesc would be an intelligent signing as our midfield lacks any creativity. People STILL wanting Rino sacked? What can I expect when most fans believe what the papers tell them. He has us in 4th with half our squad available. If we can get through this relatively easy month till Jan we're looking good for top 4
on the 5th December, 2018 at 6:57pm
@Viktor

By average i mean the squad is at its minimum objective. Overachieving is if theyre challenging for top spot. Injuries are part of the game. Hence you have 25-28 players in the squad. If 15 of them are useless then whose fault is it!? The club.
And yes im a milanista.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 6:25pm
Milan are lucky to be in 4th at present. Gattuso has made one or two poor substitutions during key games. Thankfully he is learning and has improved his decision making. The squad overall is not strong enough. Need to revert to Christmas tree 4-1-2-1-2 formation. Buy a new deep lying central midfielder like Fabregas to dictate the play and a number 10 (Suso/Paqueta) to play off the strikers. Also need to bring back Silva next season and buy another proven striker to play alongside Higuain.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 6:21pm
Milan are lucky to be in 4th at present. Gattuso has made one or two poor substitutions during key games. Thankfully he is learning and has improved his decision making. The squad overall is not strong enough. Need to revert to Christmas tree 4-1-2-1-2 formation. Buy a new deep lying central midfielder like Fabregas to dictate the play and a number 10 (Suso/Paqueta) to play off the strikers. Also need to bring back Silva next season and buy another proven striker to play alongside Higuain.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 6:20pm
@Jad

"hey are certainly not overachieving, at average right now"

How on EARTH are the only average now considering 4-5 starters are long time absent and they have to rotate every game.

I noticed you used the word "we" so im not going to give you hell but trust me, cherish our efforts lately because its been beyond expectations.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 4:43pm
They are certainly not overachieving, at average right now. They need to trim down the squad and make some intelligent signings.
Fabregas - seems over the hill but im not a scout. Sceptical at best.
Paqueta - relatively unknown. Could be the next gabigol or andre silva 2.0.
We dont need a CB. Romagnoli and Musacchio will be back in 2-3 weeks. No need to spend resources there. Same for a striker, no need.
A LW and creative Mid are needed since Castellejo and Laxalt are a letdown.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 3:53pm
Well it’s a tough call. Milan’s target goal is top 4 finish....Challenging effort with Lazio Roma Atalanta also pushing for that last spot....only one can have it.

Shame too is Andre Silva loan. They threw away a great talent.

Glad Rino is still on, but he’s hanging on by fingernails. He looks stressed, could he make to end of season?

Their in limbo state: win 2, lose 1, draw / lose 1, draw 2 win 1 pattern.
Hopefully it won’t comeback to bite if they never upgrade coach.
on the 5th December, 2018 at 3:33pm
With all the injuries considered, it's been a tremendous effort by Gattuso and the squad. Bakayoko finding form, Abate putting in solid work at CB and Suso's genius being the highlights. In January, with Paqueta arriving with raw potential (and being an unknown quantity), along with rumours of Fabregas joining to add (much needed) creativity and ability to dictate tempo in midfield could be a masterstroke. Add to that a solid CB on 6 month loan & a 3rd striker, top 4 looks very likely!
on the 5th December, 2018 at 1:50pm

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