Since the days of the eyebrow-raising Carlo Ancelotti parading the touchline for Milan, only Massimiliano Allegri has been able to provide some semblance of balance and stability, with the current Juventus boss having coached nearly 180 official matches for the Rossoneri spanning nearly four seasons before his sacking in January 2014. From that point forward, it has been a revolving door at the post for the seven-time European champions.
The failure to solidify the bench, among many other factors over the years, has prevented the Milanese outfit from reclaiming past glories and becoming both the domestic and European powerhouse we had come to know throughout calcio’s history.
With the current season winding down, and the Rossoneri clinging to dwindling hopes of a top four finish with two matches to play, the search for a proper replacement for Gennaro Gattuso has surely begun.
Under the assumption Elliott, CEO Ivan Gazidis and management give a resounding ‘yes’ to sacking Gattuso, Milan must pull no punches and make a statement appointment for the bench – from a shortlist of names that includes, but is not limited to, Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri and Gian Piero Gasperini.
Upon Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich ushering Conte to the exit, the fiery Italian was portrayed as the ideal option for the vast majority of Milan supporters. Experienced, a proven track record in Italy, and perhaps the most important element, the ability to build a squad into winners, Conte has always been the preferred option.
The 49-year old turned Juventus into serial winners at the beginning of the decade, and is largely credited with hotwiring this current eight-consecutive league title defence off the floor by leaving his imprint on the Old Lady.
But of course, when you have won three Scudetti, a Premier League title and inspired the entire nation of Italy at Euro 2016, there are certain prerequisites required to obtain his services that go beyond wages; market flexibility, freedom to establish an identity and Champions League competition.
Milan would surely back up the truck to secure Conte’s services, but with the fight for fourth hanging in the balance and Inter already hinting at upgrading from Luciano Spalletti, all signs point to the Lecce native opting for black and blue.
As for Sarri, it remains unclear whether or not he will remain at Stamford Bridge beyond this season - this despite meeting the top four objective and brining home a Europa League crown.
Hypothetically speaking however, should the chain-smoking tactician endure the same fate as many before him, it is hard to ignore the idea of seeing a progressive, offensive-minded manager like Sarri instilling a bit of ‘Sarrismo’ into a Milan side who often play slow and with caution in conceding rather than attacking with vigor.
Perhaps the same can be said about Atalanta’s Gian Piero Gasperini, who has completely transformed the Bergamo-based club from mid-table obscurity to European dreamers by virtue of a youth-centric philosophy and offensive approach.
Despite the 61-year old leader having endured a rather rough spell in a pressurized, big club environment at Inter in 2011, Gasperini is the exact profile the current management value, due in large part to his ability to mould younger talent.
Before anything major can be done on the transfer market this summer, it is imperative Milan sort out their managerial situation early so the new hire may have the luxury of time to properly assess who on the active roster fits into his tactics, and who does not. From there, those up top and in the technical area can work to acquire players who fit this system as oppose to blindly spending just for the sake of it.
Although Conte’s more defensive 3-5-2 has been met with mixed views, it has yielded positive results, supported by his CV. Then, there is Sarri’s system with an emphasis on playing from the back, relying on movement, retaining possession and incisive quick passing as aesthetically pleasing, and when clicking, highly effective.
However, as we saw with his Napoli, the project requires multiple windows, very specific personnel like dynamic wingers and time to construct – a key element Milan may not have at this present time.
Meanwhile, anyone would be remiss to discredit Gasperini’s ability and acumen to forge an identity.
Regardless of who is next in line to take up the job, Milan must make a statement with this hire – and avoid falling behind the top clubs in Italy.