Wednesday December 19 2018
Mundane Milan drop the ball

Pedestrian and uninspiring, the Rossoneri deliver one of their worst performances of the season in a scoreless draw with relegation-bound Bologna, writes Matthew Santangelo.

When Milan supporters took a glance at the slew of matches their Rossoneri were to finish the first half of the 2018-19 Serie A season with, the general feeling was a positive one despite the injuries that have plagued Gennaro Gattuso’s squad. Yet, as a result of a slim roster, both in talent and able bodies, and the lingering tendencies to produce consistent results worthy of a 1xbet code, it has been made clear that the Champions League hopefuls cannot be counted out to drop the ball with their friendly schedule to close out the year.

After the Italian giants bowed out of the Europa League last Thursday at the hands of Olympiacos, there was a certain curiosity surrounding Milan and their plans to respond against Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dall’Ara. Last night’s reply, however, was anything but the answer supporters were looking in the scoreless draw, a microcosm of Milan’s season to date; sporadic in form, diminishing attacking ideas and the steep toll taken from injuries. 

Parallels can be drawn between the loss to Olympiacos and draw with Bologna, and in many ways, were mirror-images of one another. Unimaginative and uninspiring, yet still deploying an adequate amount of talent to get the job done, Gattuso’s approach versus the league’s 18th positioned side left plenty to be desired and was far too pedestrian for what talent was on the pitch. 

Captain Alessio Romagnoli returned to his rightful spot in the back anchoring the defence after Ignazio Abate served honorably as an emergency centre-back – and turned in an encouraging shift off an injury. But that is where the positives end. 

Dominating possession (72 per cent-28 per cent) and doubling Pippo Inzaghi’s side in shots (18-9) obviously does not paint the full picture, like statistics fail to do in many cases.

Through the midfield of Franck Kessie and Tiémoué Bakayoko lies a lack of a real creative presence, not that it should vital to break down, but clearly effected Milan from playing with an effective attacking mindset. Even wide men Hakan Calhanoglu and Suso failed to muster up anything of note as the side’s two expected creative plugs. Patrick Cutrone and Gonzalo Higuain, who hasn’t found the back of the net in nearly two months, were left to fend for themselves as proper service failed to arrive. Bologna’s game-plan clearly catered to conceding the bulk of possession and absorbing pressure, which enabled the Rossoblu to stay compact and rule out a magical moment from Milan’s lone creative spark in Suso.

You can point to the creativity deficit, lacking end product or Gattuso unveiling limitations in his attacking approach as the cause for the disappointing result. In the end, it boils down to the fact that Milan aren’t showing the same ferocity and ambition required of a team vying for a top four finish that we saw in large amounts last season when Gattuso first took over; that falls on the manager.

Even with injuries stacking the odds against them to qualify for the Champions League as a result of misfortune, the mentality must remain the same for Milan, especially when presented the opportunity to separate from the likes of Lazio and Roma who, by way of their own erratic form, are opening the door to take firm control of fourth.

But as mundane and middle-of-the-road as Milan have been through 16 matches, they still find themselves two points clear of Lazio for the final UCL spot, and only five from rivals Inter who sit third. Be that as it may, at some point, Milan cannot bank on their competition’s own shortcomings to keep them in the thick of things. But instead, use abysmal performances, and the critical points regularly being left on the pitch, as motivation to regroup before luck runs out.

Have your say...
...look at this way... at least Milan haven’t ( YET ) become like Newcastle. A once strong top 4 exciting team. That somehow have fallen on hard times to relagation, and fought back... even with a winning coach can’t climb back to top half of Premiership, have even lost so much notoriety and are always at risk of being relagated again.
on the 23rd December, 2018 at 9:05pm
@Maldini's Heir: It's hard to disagree with you on the bottom line that Milan is in 4th and that this is the goal. I'm just nervous that Gattuso might be the reason that the team is a level lower than where it could be. Lazio and Roma have been stuck in 2nd gear all season. If either of those two start playing well it will be over. This Milan has not shown the capacity to match 2017-2018 Roma/Lazio (and Inter) at any point this season. It's their under performance, not our good play.
on the 21st December, 2018 at 10:36pm
Given the limitations of the squad at his disposal, I think Gattuso is doing what can be expected of him, and perhaps more.
on the 21st December, 2018 at 7:13pm
Gattuso has sacrificed his tactical ideas for results like almost every other Italian manager. The fluid 433 we saw against Napoli and Roma on day 1 and 2 is no more.
Rino is totally justified in this and even forced.
He lost half his starting Xl in one month though injury. The same players have to play every week and obviously tired.
Rino's pragmatism and motivation is what has Milan in 4th. The squad is suffering and needs relief but sacking the manager, who the squad backs, is not the answer.
on the 20th December, 2018 at 6:31pm
Not like Sami/Laxalt have impressed but at least he'd shake it up. Any other coach would play the same players as well. So it's not Gattuso as much as the players he's got.
Also who told you that Conte/Simeone/Mourinho/Wenger etc and any other coach are killing themselves to come to Milan!? Maybe best candidate is Donadoni - is he really much an upgrade?
In conclusion, he is on target. Theyre not excelling but he's achieving his target.
Curious to see if Paqueto can solve our LW problem.
on the 20th December, 2018 at 12:44pm
Gattuso isn't much at fault here. His tactics are forced by the players (or lack of them) he has. Can you please tell me in the current injury situation, who would you play in the middle in place of Kessie and Bakayoko!? Mauri, Bertolacci, Montolivo? Which star he's benching in favor of Bakayoko and Kessie? None! These 2 are the best he has. I'd only argue against him starting Hakan as Trequarista in a 4231 and have Cutrone as super sub and let Sami/Laxalt battle it out on the left -
on the 20th December, 2018 at 12:41pm
@ AC Milan Fan I'm criticising Gattuso of course but the fact is he's meeting his target. Milan are fourth. All the rest is opinion. If Milan finish fourth he should stay and if he doesn't he should go. And if he does go we need a proper tried and tested coach. It is frustrating watching players not reaching their potential but, again, I repeat - all that matters is fourth.
on the 20th December, 2018 at 11:08am
@Maldini's Heir: Dude, your 3 posts completely contradict your first sentence. "We can't fire Gattuso", but everything else correctly points out that the group of players isn't bad, they got to 4th without a world class coach, you argue for more creative players on the pitch at the same time against a squad like Bologna AND goals from corners stats are dismal because of how we take them. What does that all equal??? POOR COACHING. We could easily have 8-10 more points. Imagine that!
on the 20th December, 2018 at 4:51am
To add to my 4 well written posts below, people also need to be aware that the EPL lost over half a billion on their current tv deal compared to the previous one. With Serie A's rising, that means the tv deals are 700 million closer than they were. And the next EPL tv is projected to fall further as well, by maybe 13%. While the next Serie A one is projected to rise 8%.

So now is the time for Serie A to strike while the other leagues begin to crumble.
on the 20th December, 2018 at 2:07am
So once again December comes and people have convinced themselves the coach is the problem at Milan. Sacking the manager mid season hasnt exactly worked out well for us before has it. Rino has us in 4th albeit playing some awful football but on the other hand the squad has been decimated with injuries this year. Regardless he deserves to see the year out and if he doesnt finish 4th then I agree we should look elsewhere, but no changes mid season as it only ends in disaster at Milan.
on the 20th December, 2018 at 12:55am
I usually support Juve, who are a top 3 team in Europe. But as bad as Milan are, they are one of the hugest clubs there's ever been. Italy needs to copy EPL with tv money. If people around the world are dumb enough to watch garbage like Everton vs Bournemouth, then convincing them to watch quality football from Milan is easy. Hype is the name of the game and Serie A needs to "pretend" it's the best just like the EPL do. 4 Ch Lge titles in 35 years and the EPL still claim to be "the best" LOL
on the 19th December, 2018 at 11:53pm
Then again, Milan usually do well in the Ch Lge group stages. So the "pasting" I referred to might not happen. Even M City with all their money got regularly pasted in the groups stages for many years. I thought Mourinho is the man but on 2nd thoughts he's past it. He's suited to Everton/Spurs/Arsenal where 4th is a success. Milan need to be far more ambitious than a worn out old man like him. Conte or Simeone (who Inter want) is the way ahead If they get 1 of them, they'll dominate Ch Lge again
on the 19th December, 2018 at 11:27pm
same story week after week, milan spend their monopoly money and get slap on the wrist from FFP, superstars don't produce and they spend more to revamp. Rumors float in on who will replace higuain when his initial 18Million loan probably hasn't even been paid yet. This team has no identity and no soul and should be relegated for their shady practices. Who would want to see them qualify for champions league when they prove they are not even a Europa league caliber team??
on the 19th December, 2018 at 11:18pm
One of the most surprising stats I heard was that Milan had not scored from a corner in a long time. It's not that surprising given we take most corners short and thus give up the opportunity to get a cross in from the byline without any pressure. Worse we have Calha who is one of the best set piece takers in Europe and some big CBs and CMs and we haven't scored from a corner? And if you don't score from corners or set pieces then you'll struggle to break down certain teams.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 11:16pm
Capocannoniere. As AC Milan Fan has pointed out some of the players are playing out of position. The fact is Gattuso has, like many Italian coaches, opted for solidity over attacking options. So rather than having Kessie and Bakayoko cancel each other out in midfield we could've played Calha in midfield with Samu AND Suso AND Cutrone AND Higuain. Why not? Bologna are 18th. Instead Gattuso took off Cutrone (who was actually more effective than Higuain) when Milan were still drawing 0:0.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 11:12pm
We can't fire Gattuso. He's got us to fourth. If we finish fourth then he's done his job. That of course doesn't mean we can't criticise him. As others have said he's not (yet?) a top coach. There's simply no point in rating the players until they get a chance to play under a top coach. The fact that the players have got Milan to fourth without a top coach suggests they're not as mediocre as the media and fans make out. Well of course they're not, we've got Higuain, a record breaking
on the 19th December, 2018 at 11:08pm
Milan had 71.5 % possession of the ball against Bologna and if they cannot score after spending 200 million in player transfers last season then that means this team totally sucks. Aren't you glad you got rid of Allegri who was your scape goat for all these years when fault lies with your team.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 10:14pm
Gattuso is not a top coach yet but he has done more good than bad.I think the transfers & injuries are the main issue.Selling Locatelli & yet again failing to land a good left winger have really hurt the squad.Honestly,did anyone think Hakan & Castillejo were as good as Deulofeu?Over 50 million for Bakayoko(loan),Castillejo,Laxalt.Don't tell me we couldn't have signed two of Depay,Brandt,Chiesa,De Paul,Papu,Fabregas,Barella.I think Paqueta & a good left winger in Jan will clinch top 4 for us.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 9:04pm
When the names being floated to replace him are Donadoni and Wenger, I'll stick with Gattuso thank you very much.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 8:53pm
As I said before: why not a 4-2-3-1? With Kessie and Baka the defensive 2. The "3" would enable rotation, even within a game. People forget that Calha has played out of position from day one. He's a central attacking mid. It could be Calha-Suso-Samu; Laxalt-Calha-Suso; Samu-Calha-Suso; Laxalt, Suso, Samu, etc. I hope the next gaffer will try it. I think Gasperini should be given a chance. He's a proven developer of youth and his sides play great football, and on a budget too.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 8:41pm
I think it’s time for Gattuso to be let go... he’s had a decent amount of time,chances and run wasn’t all that bad but Milan is still in limbo. if not for Roma and Lazio having bad run of games they’d be in 6th - 7 th place like the past 5 years at this time.
Going out of Europa like they did and then DRAW against a lowly Bologna I really expected him fired that Sunday night.
I think Mourinho would be great for Milan. Both are hitting some lows in life. Less pressure to overcome for both.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 8:30pm
But I have a reassuring message to Milan fans that fear over fourth spot. Let’s just say Milan qualified, they’d prob be in pot 4 and would simply be given pasting after pasting in the group stage and then knocked out in bottom place and not even get the Europa League. Yes they’ll lose some commercial revenue, but they are so dumb they spend it in such stupid ways that it’s better they don’t have the money and they don’t reach the CL. Saves their fans from more false hope.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 8:17pm
Milan are a hopeless outfit and have been ever since they last won the CL. They had a brief whimper of finding form when they had ibra, Robinho and silva but they cashed that in. Since then it’s been embarrassing. Gattuso should be sacked. Bring in conte. Mourinho is too expensive and his ambitions are way higher than that of Milan. They made a big error in not taking Beppe Marotta. As a Juve fan I need Milan to get back to success, this league is so boring and so easy it’s dull to watch.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 8:15pm
I don't think it would be fair to sack Rino right now, he is in 4th with a limited, slow and unbalanced squad. Give him Fabregas and till the end of the season and judge him then. Chalha is dead weight in any formation and will lose his place to PAQUETA probably, so should go. I think Hig will be gone by end of Jan as well so 2019 could be difficult for who ever is coaching milan in the new year. Leonardo needs to pull out some bargain bin gems from his xmas sack.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 6:55pm
I love Rino but he's out of his depth tactically, especially when it comes to attacking. Injuries don't help him but neither do the woeful performances of some of our "key" players who ARE fit, such as Hakan and Higuain. The formation doesn't suit playing Kessie and Baka side by side, either, as neither of them delivers any creative spark. Could an acquisition like Cesc help? Possibly; or adding him to the fray may turn out to be as effective as using chewing gum to stop a leak in a ship's hull.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 4:20pm
Milan brought Higuain a player that requires spoon feeding, like Icardi, and they don't have a proper midfield setup to pull that out (creative core), so attacking approach will bring mixed results, just like we see in Roma (Pjanic exit), not that any of the teams can choose to play defense.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 4:09pm
It's the coach. Yes, the squad have had injury issues, but points have been dropped so bottom of the table teams all season. Milan could be comfortably in 4th, even 3rd. I loved Gattuso as a player, and appreciate what he's done as a coach, but it may be time to bring in someone with more skill before it's too late. If Baka and Kessie are the middle axis why not try the 4-2-3-1? Calha, Suso in the hole close to the striker, and Samu on the right. Cutrone and Higuain get in each other's way.
on the 19th December, 2018 at 2:39pm
Gattuso has had plenty of time; he's obviously not inspiring the players, and his tactical ability is extremely limited. Elliot Management have spent a fortune on shaking things up behind the scenes, to no avail; time to get a top manager in. Conte, ideally. (But for God's sake, not Mourinho!!!)
on the 19th December, 2018 at 1:56pm

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