Wednesday October 9 2019
Pioli set up as just another Milan flop

Stefano Pioli is only the latest poor sap to take the thankless task of leading Milan, as Susy Campanale identifies the real culprits.

People have noted that political satires like The Thick of It and Veep are providing scenarios less ridiculous than the ones we see playing out on the news every day now. The chaos at AC Milan feels much the same. There comes a point when ‘banter era’ doesn’t really cover it. This is a club without a plan, a leader, an identity, just endless half-thought-out projects that are thrown out to the public before they’ve been properly vetted, then abandoned once enough negative feedback arrives.

There’s a quote from The Thick of It when spin doctor Malcolm Tucker is explaining to Minister Nicola Murray why she won’t be fired yet. “Sacked after 12 months, looks like you’ve messed up; sacked after a week, looks like we’ve messed up.” Well, dismissing Marco Giampaolo after seven games and a club record 111 days is without a shadow of a doubt a sign the club has got this badly wrong.

Milan messed up twice here, because they got the wrong man for the job and then didn’t even have the guts to try supporting him through the first few hurdles. Giampaolo never stood a chance, because – as per usual – there was no consistency to this supposed project at all. They hired a Coach who famously plays 4-3-1-2 and didn’t get him anyone who can play in the trequartista position in the hole. They spent all summer trying to sell Suso for €40m, failing, and therefore having to accommodate him and his endless cut inside from the right to shoot with the left foot forays. Hakan Calhanoglu started every game this season because… actually, I’ve got nothing for that. Not a clue what managers continue to see in him. He’s a free kick specialist who can’t take free kicks, a midfielder with no real attacking or defensive qualities and who can’t seem to pass the ball to a teammate without giving it away for a dangerous counter-attack. He’s like a figure in a children’s story who goes through all these different jobs until he figures out where he belongs. It’s a longer book than any Milanista wanted and we’re not sure there is an ending other than ‘somewhere other than San Siro.’

Stefano Pioli is in now, although in keeping with Milan’s strategy towards everything nowadays, he wasn’t their first choice. The club very publicly went for Luciano Spalletti – a bad idea too, if you ask me – and pulled out because he was too expensive. Cheap and cheerful, that’s the Rossoneri way in 2019.

To keep the TV theme going, the Milan directors are increasingly like that group in The Apprentice who want to create the biggest profit margin by selling burgers for £20 made of squirrel meat and roadkill. The fans are the ones getting ripped off, as every time a Press conference is held describing their intention to qualify for the Champions League, aim for big objectives and bring this club back to where it belongs, and we know even at the time none of it will happen.

Look into Pioli’s eyes during that presentation – even he knows he won’t be there for long. At least Ariana Grande can sing ‘Thank you, next’ by saying she learned from her exes. What have Milan learned from everyone who traipsed through here since Max Allegri was fired in January 2014? Did they keep any of the positives from Sinisa Mihajlovic, Vincenzo Montella or Gennaro Gattuso? Have any of those errors in management and transfer strategy been corrected? Of course not.

This obsession with a top four finish is unhealthy. Gattuso finished one point off Inter, but was written off as a total failure, just like every other Coach who came through the door of Milanello in recent years. At what point do you realise it’s not just his fault?

Ivan Gazidis can state all he likes that Milan were salvaged from bankruptcy, but that’s not the point. Money was spent, and a lot of it, just not very wisely. Giampaolo never got the players he asked for and decided to transform system after one match because it was better to work around the characteristics of his squad rather than try to shove a round peg into a square hole.

So fans can blame Giampaolo, Pioli and the next poor sap who comes along, but the problems at Milan won’t change until there is a fundamental overhaul of the culture there. We see too many directors, all with different ideas, seemingly working entirely independently of each other and the Coach. I’m not clear what it is Zvonimir Boban and Paolo Maldini actually do. Add Ricky Massara to the mix, then there’s Gazidis and Paolo Scaroni, all of whom answer to the shadowy London offices of Elliott Management. Who is, ultimately, in charge at Milan? I don’t think even they really know.

Decide on a plan, consider it carefully, provide the tools necessary for it to succeed and then stick to it.

Have your say...
Iam an old man 64, have supported milan since the 60's,I seen fantastic players, great teams win and lose, but I have never seen such a total mess, relegation, near bancruptcy were nothing compared to the last few years Berlusconi after spending , taking milan to the top, loses interest, starves the club he "loves" sells to crook,and so the spiral starts,I love milan, but when you don't care anymore because it hurts you too much IT IS THE END
on the 12th October, 2019 at 3:45pm
Leao is just another Niang promising but will get sold at some point just like Andre Silva.

They need to be looking to sign Tonali, Chiesa, Berardi, Belotti and completely focus on an Italian core to get back, imagine:


Calabria Caldara Romagnoli Hernandez

Chiesa Berardi

Need to sell deadwood like - Suso Casti Calag Mussachio Borini Rodriquez
on the 11th October, 2019 at 11:06am
Donnarumma / Romagnoli need to leave for their careers. Milan AT BEST are 5 years from challenging for Serie A and 10 years from being a CL contender that makes Romagnoli 29-34 - what a waste of a career.

Romagnoli is as good as De Ligt BUT he has no exposure or experience even Acerbi is challenging him for Italy CB spot.

REALITY: Not until they have a new stadium (owned), rid of Elliot, revamp the squad completely (especially midfield / upfront) and appoint a solid manager, will they be back.
on the 11th October, 2019 at 10:54am
horrible collapse against Deportivo in 2004. This was the best squad Milan ever had. Sheva, Kaka, Gattuso, Pirlo, Rui Costa, Nesta, Maldini, Stam, Cafu, Seedorf, Billy, Inzaghi. Conte or Allegri would won multiple league titles and more than the two CLs. That squad could have gone to 5 CL finals in a row if they hadn't collapsed against Depo and if they hadn't been robbed at Barcelona in 2006 by non-existent foul on a good Sheva goal. Not sure what I'm trying to say anymore :-)....
on the 10th October, 2019 at 6:33pm
@Maldini's Heir: Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I think it's a combination of good manager and the right players. You wrote a long post, but let's focus on those late 90s-early 00s Milan squads. I remember those years well. Yes, Zac took a group of unheralded players to 1st, but there WAS one really important transfer: Oliver Bierhoff. He basically single-handedly won us the championship in 99. Then you've got Carletto. He go us 1 Scudetto and 2 CLs. But he also lost one CL, and had that
on the 10th October, 2019 at 6:27pm
A team that has been in the cage for close to 10 years and you are expecting mairacle within 2 years? you need to wake up. Look at it this way, Juve before they get it right they spent Millions on players that they think can do it for them like Melo, Kranic and host of others but at the end of the day they count their loses and let those players go, they hired and fired soo many coaches before thn unknown Conte finally arrived and we all know the story after then
on the 10th October, 2019 at 5:09pm
i mostly agree, yet I believe Giampaolo's profile did fit Milan: what you get from his teams were:
- a passing string of a ball moving centre back, a regista and a trequartista
- heavy runners @midfield, who can press the ball and get it higher up the pitch
- occupy the middle of the pitch and let full backs worry about the flanks.

he had almost all he needed (I still think of Paqueta as a trequartista), just failed to put it together, for which he really is to blame.
on the 10th October, 2019 at 10:40am
Having been a. Milan fan for decades it pains me see their dire state. I knew Giampaolo was not the solution. He is a coach with limited success with mid table teams and had only recently returned from obscurity. He was as good a choice as Ventura was for Italy. Now Pioli? Are you kidding me? Another coach who doesn’t have the pedigree to be a Milan coach who will be no doubt ticketed for mediocrity and failure. What is management thinking? Or are they thinking? Is the tail wagging the donkey?
on the 10th October, 2019 at 1:16am
my hopes 1/maldini-boban go quitely in the summer. 2/Luis Campos comes in as sd with his team
3/pioli out 4/ bielsa in 5/elliot sell to qatar. FORZA MILAN!

conti/calab duarte/caldara roma theo/rr

kessie krunic

bona paq benna

on the 10th October, 2019 at 12:06am
my hopes 1/maldini-boban go quitely in the summer. 2/Luis Campos comes in as sd with his team
3/pioli out 4/ bielsa in 5/elliot sell to qatar. FORZA MILAN!

conti/calab duarte/caldara roma theo/rr

kessie krunic

bona paq benna

on the 10th October, 2019 at 12:05am
Maldini gave Giampaolo the pieces, he just didn’t use them. They tried all summer to ship Suso out, so what does Giampaolo do next? He centered the project around the unwanted Suso. Same goes for Calhanoglu and Biglia. He needed to use the new players and stick with his preferred formation. His stubbornness and stupidity (Paqueta too Brazilian!) ultimately cost him.
Conti Mussachio Romagnoli Theo
Krunic Bennacer Bona
Leao Piatek
Hopefully Pioli identifies his best 11 early.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 11:42pm
I can live with Suso playing but if Pioli continues to play Hakan as a starter then this is over before it's even begun.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 11:42pm
Disagree Milan having no trequartistas but the rest of the scathing critique is fully vindicated.
This is all so sad and I do not feel much connection to the club atm.
Maybe Maldini's Heir is right and once (if ever) we find the right coach our team will return to being Milan.
But football has changed in the last few decades.
Every season that passes I have less faith that Milan will recover from this.
So much needs to change. Alessio, Gigio, etc... will likely leave before it happens.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 10:38pm
What this all shows again is that we can never predict when things will fall into place. But this is why it's so important to find the right manager. The manager makes all of the difference. Man Utd probably wouldn't have won a single title had Ferguson not been in charge since none of the teams were ever the best in England let alone Europe. He made those teams. Milan need their Ferguson.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 9:00pm
quite a decent Milan side in 2001 which had just splashed the cash for the likes of Pirlo, Rui Costa and Inzaghi. He was a disaster and was fired in November to be replaced by Ancelotti. Ancelotti of course was considered a failure at that point in his career. After a slow start Ancelotti got Milan to 4th. Then the following season with a few more very good signings (Nesta and Seedorf) Milan were suddenly back winning the Champions League. So began a renewed period of Milan dominance.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:58pm
Fatih Terim. Speaking of which this is not the first time in the last 30 years that Milan have faced periods of uncompetitiveness. In 97/98 Milan finished 10th under Capello (of all people) and then Zaccheroni (of all people) took one of the worst Milan teams in living memory and won the title. For those of you who like writing off players as MEDIOCRE that team consisted of Seba Rossi, Luigi Sala, N'Gotty, Guglielminpietro and Ambrosini in his breakthrough season. Later Fatih Terim took over
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:53pm
in Serie A. Which means that Juve, Napoli and Inter have a very good chance of qualifying for the Champions League. Which leaves one space for Milan. This is just the reality of not having one of the top three coaches in the league. We can go off and sign as many players as we like but until we find the next best coach, or the coach with the hottest mojo, we'll struggle to compete. Had Giampaolo been the next Sacchi Maldini and Boban would've been heralded as geniuses. Instead he was the next
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:46pm
Leicester was to Ranieri. Who knows? Certainly not me, this writer or anyone commenting on here. But there are certain things a club can do to minimise risks. Certain managers are more likely to guarantee success than others. Mourinho 5 years ago, Guardiola, Klopp, Conte (provided he doesn't play in Europe), Allegri, Ancellotti and possibly now Sarri are the sort of managers that guarantee success (or at least Champions League football). It just so happens that 3 of those managers are currently
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:43pm
at Chelsea shows just how fine the margins are. Having won the title in 14/15 it's very hard to know what caused Chelsea to collapse the next season. Maybe it was the extra week Mourinho gave the players off before pre-season, maybe it was his public criticism of the doctor, maybe he just lost his mojo. Pioli lost his mojo in his second season at Lazio. Maybe that one season will be Pioli's greatest management achievement. Maybe winning the title with Milan will be. Milan could be to Pioli what
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:38pm
I can think of endless examples of a new manager completely changing things whether it's at the top or even new managers hauling teams out of regulation. It's almost a cliche. Chelsea went from 1st to 10th to 1st to 5th in just 4 seasons under Mourinho and Conte, Man Utd went from 1st to 7th after Ferguson was replaced with Moyes, Juve went from 7th to an unbeaten 1st between 09/10 and 10/11. Lazio went from 9th to 3rd between 13/14 and 14/15 thanks to our new man Pioli. Mourinho's second stint
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:35pm
These events are not necessarily a sign of "chaos" but are a pretty common part of football. I find it very odd that fans and the media are constantly calling for entire squads to be overhauled but when a club makes a single change at the top that is apparently a sign of chaos. Players rarely make a difference. I can think of a few key signings over the years which really changed things for a club: the three Dutchmen, Eric Cantona's signing from Leeds, maybe Pirlo to Juve.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 8:30pm
My Milan lack intensity and that is due to not enough Italian players in the starting 11. Back in the glory days, there was at least 5-6 Italians on the team. Now, and on a good day, its 2 or 3 at the most, 4 with Jacko. I am not trying to sound like Berlusconi, but the team needs a good balance between Italians and foreign players. I think we lost by not signing Sensi. Also Suso has to go.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 7:48pm
@Pinturicchio I second that. This is not the Milan I've known growing up. Arsenal fans can probably see the issues rightaway. Without having watched their games properly, I am baffled as to how they are not identifying a core group of players to build their team around. If this is year zero for them then the likes of Leao have to come into the equation.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 6:42pm
am I juve fan and i feel sorry for Milan ....

from far away, Milan is sitting back a decade ....
this team needs huge amount of time and constant well organized and well financed to go back where they belongs ..this will need soo much time and effort and this will never come soon ....

wish you good luck guys and really miss our duels during Kaka days ...
on the 9th October, 2019 at 6:41pm
“What saddens me most is that this is happening under Maldini's watch - born and bred Milan legend who by his own admission would bleed this club's colors. Is this it, Paolo? You're OK with what your club has become?”

Exactly my feelings bro, exactly :( 
Like when William Wallace pulls the helmet off the face of Robert The Bruce in Braveheart … simply no words, just darkness.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 6:22pm
We should seriously move the following players along (Suso, Calha, Kessie, Biglia, Rodrigues). Closely examine the game-plan of all of the teams that played against us and they all have one thing in Milan as high as possible, play a running game and if you sustain the pressure you will get a result. The above players are slowing down our game and our transition play is too unimaginative to create any meaningful chances (hence the poor shots on target). I rest my case...
on the 9th October, 2019 at 5:38pm
Actually, this article sucks. So much bile from someone who's never done anything herself but complain.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 5:01pm
Without reading the article... maybe this is their allegri moment just like for juve? But I did say maybe
on the 9th October, 2019 at 3:40pm
And to believe that the revolving door for Milan Coaches all started when Allegri started Milan's best CB at the time in Bonera vs Sassuolo and lost 4-3 because of a Berardi Hat trick where Bonera was at fault for all 3 of his goals and got fired after Barbara B. ridiculed him publicly.......look who's getting the last laugh now !! If this team would have listened to seedorf when he took over as coach who wanted the team pieced then it would probably be better off today !!
on the 9th October, 2019 at 3:29pm
Pioli isn't a good coach by any means but if he plays the right players in paqueta piatek leao and rebic and sits out calhanoglu and suso he might find success. Because of milans past its easy to say they failed which is true, but giampaolo has a lot to do with that. After two months of training for a specific formation and style he scrapped it all in one game and went back to gattuso's style. Anyone playing for him would quickly lose all hope in his project.
on the 9th October, 2019 at 3:18pm

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