Milanisti must understand that their club is a work in progress. If AC Milan were to appoint the best manager in world football right now, the Rossoneri wouldn’t rapidly return to their 1990s glory days overnight or in the span of a single season. We all saw what happened when they splashed €200m in the transfer market ahead of the 2017-18 campaign – thinking they were instantly going to be a Scudetto challenger.
It has been tragic to see a Calcio titan such as Milan in disarray for the last six years. But ever since Gattuso took the helm, the Rossoneri have slightly improved. From finishing 10th in the 2014-15 Serie A season to obtaining fifth four years later, the Diavolo is slowly rising from the ruins underneath the San Siro. But with Gattuso’s grinta taking this current Milan side as far as possible, now is the ideal time for owners Elliott Management Corporation and CEO Ivan Gazidis to appoint an exceptional tactician for a long-term project.
With Gattuso’s recent departure, Marco Giampaolo has been tipped to replace the Calabrese as the new Milan manager. Some Rossoneri fans are questioning this move – raising awareness that their rivals Napoli have Carlo Ancelotti, Inter now boast Antonio Conte and Juve are linked with Maurizio Sarri. Having a seasoned and successful manager is an expectation for Milan. Yet, other certain Milanisti think Giampaolo is the right move going forward, particularly in establishing a clear identity on the pitch.
Giampaolo may not boast the most decorated CV, but the Italian tactician has been capable of getting mid-table sides to play an entertaining and effective brand of football. Before the 51-year-old’s coaching career took off at Empoli, the journeyman technician couldn’t even establish himself at Cagliari and in Sicily with Catania.
But it was in Tuscany where some of Giampaolo’s attacking brand of football had gained recognition throughout the 2015-16 Serie A season. The Swiss-born Coach guided that Empoli side to a 10th-place finish, including being responsible for rejuvenating striker Massimo Maccarone.
Giampaolo’s Ligurian three-season journey at Sampdoria has been fascinating to watch. And while the former Brescia boss has only managed to achieve two 10th-place finishes and one ninth with the Blucerchiati, the attractive style of football has struck a chord with the neutrals.
Giampaolo’s 4-3-1-2 formation could prove to be fruitful at Milan. With Gattuso having used the 4-3-3 formation for the majority of the 2018-19 season, the 4-3-1-2 model would finally allow Krzysztof Piatek and Patrick Cutrone to play together up front. Behind the two strikers, the Rossoneri could deploy Brazilian youngster Lucas Paqueta as a central attacking midfielder. This would mean Suso could also be trialled as a Mezzala (half-winger) – a role that Sampdoria’s midfielder Dennis Praet has played under Giampaolo.
The Doria manager could also implement high pressing and a one-touch passing system – tactics that share some parallels with Sarri’s beautiful football. However, playing an attacking brand of football does require time for players to gel in terms of passing combination and building up attacks. The reality for Milan fans is that Giampaolo’s style of football might take one season to come into full effect.
With Sampdoria trying to challenge for a Europa League spot for the last three seasons, some Rossoneri supporters are turned off due to Giampaolo’s inconsistent results. But with more talented players at his disposal, the tactician’s brand of Calcio could thrive even more. Remember, Sarri’s Empoli avoided relegation in the 2014-15 Serie A season, but were still playing a crisp style of football. The following season Sarri guided Napoli – with more talented players at his disposal – to a runners-up place in his maiden campaign with the Partenopei.
So it’s time Milan stops hiring former players, as this has become too much of an emotional ride recently with the likes of Clarence Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi, Cristian Brocchi and Rino Gattuso all failing to meet the club’s demands. Appointing Marco Giampaolo would be a suitable step for the Lombardy side’s top-four ambitions, and get them playing attractive football once again.