Tuesday October 23 2012
What Allegri is getting right

Under-pressure Milan boss Massimiliano Allegri has done some good things too this season, writes David Swan.

Massimiliano Allegri has been taking criticism left, right and centre this term. Five defeats in eight League games does not help his cause, but such is the weight of anti-Allegri feeling this season, and even during parts of the last campaign, it is very easy to forget the positive aspects to his reign as Coach.

To ensure the good parts of Allegri are not buried in the negative, here are four things he has got right in 2012-13.

Switching formation

Allegri was hounded last season, and rightly so to some degree, for not having a Plan B. So he addressed that this year with the introduction of 4-3-3/4-2-3-1.

This was not a panic switch after Milan started losing games, as many would like to believe. Milan spent as much time, if not more, in pre-season playing with wider forwards and Boateng as the central attacker, as they did with 4-3-1-2.

That is not the sign of a man panicking, but a man planning, a man aware that his team needed to evolve. He was probably forced to try it competitively a bit earlier than he would have liked – injury to Alexandre Pato and Giampaolo Pazzini not being ready meant he deployed it in the very first game. But its success this season, relative to the struggles with 4-3-1-2, has seen him stick with it. Mind-meltdown in the first-half against Lazio aside.

Protecting Mattia De Sciglio

It is clear De Sciglio is very talented, and the way he is playing this season means he is easily one of Milan’s top two full-backs and thus should be starting most, if not all, games. So far he has started six out of 10 matches, which is perhaps not enough to qualify as ‘most games’, but it is the same figure as Luca Antonini. The natural comparison, in terms of age at least, is with the younger Stephan El Shaarawy, but it is too simplistic to use him as an example.

He had a full season playing in Serie B at Padova, who reached the play-offs that year, and made fleeting appearances in his first year at Milan in a season where they were near the top of the table. His footballing development has been far more rigorous.

De Sciglio has made a jump from Primavera football straight into a first-team that is now struggling. There has been no loan to Serie B, and precious little gradual integration, bar five appearances last year. He is good, but he is not so good that he should be thrust into every game.

Allegri may also have Inter’s experiences with Davide Santon in the back of his mind – a player who was more talented than De Sciglio at the age of 19/20 years, but who struggled mentally with the pressures of a top team.

Improving players

Not something he gets much credit for, perhaps because there is a lot of focus on those players playing below their level this season, for which many hold Allegri responsible.  Nevertheless, Ignazio Abate has gone from being a right-winger out of position under Leonardo to arguably Italy’s first-choice right-back and a Euro 2012 finalist.

El Shaarawy has bags of natural talent, which is always a help for a Coach, but he was not influencing games like he is now, part of which is of course down to the fact he is now playing in a position more comfortable for him on the left.

Antonio Nocerino has been playing in Serie A on a consistent basis for five years, but had the season of his life under Allegri. Kevin-Prince Boateng was struggling to get a game at Tottenham and ended up at relegated Portsmouth, but with Allegri he became a very important player whose absence was noticed, particularly last season.

That we are now talking about the latter two and Abate being out of form is testament to how well they were playing in the previous two years, both of which were with Max.

Removing the old guard

This had to be done. He could have placated them, and some fans, by persuading Vice-President Adriano Galliani to offer them all new contracts, but he knew that most of them were not offering enough to the team and were only going to get worse.

The squad misses their know-how, but for some their ability on the pitch was at the bottom end of the group. For example, Nigel De Jong is a significant upgrade over Gennaro Gattuso, but he is not a legend with over 450 appearances, while Gianluca Zambrotta’s release has given space to De Sciglio.

The ones he did want new contracts offered to – Alessandro Nesta this summer and yes, Andrea Pirlo last summer – rejected them. The man cannot force the players to put pen to paper.

His only mistake was not starting this process a season earlier, rather than having a mass exodus that has left a small experience gap.

Have your say...
foza milano my dear milan fans all what milan need most in that team is a good attacking midfielder, central back and replacement for abate.
on the 24th November, 2012 at 3:22pm
milan's problem can be summed up as follows: garbage in, garbage out.or, you reap what you sow.
on the 25th October, 2012 at 11:57am
Dear Rosario: my previous comment was meant to you. Sorry for butchering your name by mistake. I haven't slept today but for one hour.
on the 25th October, 2012 at 8:59am
How did Milan go from being in my opinion the 3rd best side in Europe last season (after Barca & Bayern) to no where near the top 10 this season? We played Barca 4 times last year and came close to matching them even with an horrendous injury list. What happened?
Too many players lost too quickly, of course. Did we really need to sell T Silva? He would have fitted very well into this new-look emerging side.
Milan will rise again but this season is looking like a complete write off.
on the 25th October, 2012 at 8:53am
Dear Rhese are our four most experienced back four = Mexes. osario:
hernanes is a great player no doubt, but he is not world class. Our defence against Lazio was our most experienced defence as it could get. Yepes Bonera Antonini and Abate. To me Allegri should be axed because of his records against big clubs and against Inter. Because of Allegri Stramaccioni or however his name is spelled thinks of himself a great coach now. Allegri is being outsmarted by good coaches. Sorry but he is poor.
on the 25th October, 2012 at 7:33am
It hurts to see this team play badly but this i saw coming. I have been through this all before as milan fans must take all the bad with the good.
on the 25th October, 2012 at 1:22am
The post match article on this website states that milan 'showed improvement' in malaga. I would dearly like to know which match the writer of the article was watching because he most definitely wasn't watching milan. If by improvement he means that they didn't concede multiple goals whilst not making any effort to try and do anything beyond the half way line then I suppose he would be right. until the gol, Milan had no interest in engaging malaga. no pressing and deep defending!
on the 25th October, 2012 at 12:22am
Heyyy there !!! Italian football fans !!! Do we really want our glory in european football back !!! Then bring back capello !!! Lippi !!!! Ancelottii !!! Sacchi !!! Don't u realise that our success in european club football has disapeared with them !!!!
on the 24th October, 2012 at 11:02pm
allergri does everything right. we can only thank the stupidity of GallianI and the grand Berlusconi for ruining Milan. Milan are finished along with Italian football. a disgraceful campaign we should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing this symbolic team to even wear the Milan colours. Berlusconi and Galliani continue with this bull about Milan being competitive well wake uo coz we are a disgrace to Italian football! pocketed 60million and gave us pazzini!
on the 24th October, 2012 at 9:49pm
@ Viktor

I won't bother replying properly to you, because you really are not worth the bother. Like banging head against brick walls. *Obviously*, you know better than everyone else, and of course your rose-tinted specs stop you from seeing properly. It is shame *you* are allowed to post here.
on the 24th October, 2012 at 9:40pm
I'm really sorry guys but that performance by Milan tonight was probably the worst in my entire life watching Milan. Since 1986, I have never witnessed a Milan side stepping onto a pitch not wanting to play. the tactics were not to get beat and for 65 minutes, Milan literally offered next to nothing. obviously after the goal malaga stepped back a little but honestly that was the worst performance by Milan since I can remember. did not want to play football tonight. extraordinarily sad to see!
on the 24th October, 2012 at 9:40pm
ciao RossoneriFido! Hernanes is a great player but it wouldn't be right to totally blame bonera. in the 1st half, the gap between the defensive and midfield line was too big. ultimately this was evident on the candreva goal as well. there's no doubt that defensively the team can improve. there is a slight lack of experience and for me that has been the main reason for some of the tactical issues. You will never find me calling for a man to be sacked from his job. Allegri is v.talented
on the 24th October, 2012 at 2:39pm
Dear Rosario:
I acknowledge the fact the we've conceded two lucky goals and we were deprived of one. Yet look at the performance on first counter attack Hernanes made a fool out of Bonera and on the second goal Nocerino was no where to be found defending Candreva while Antonini just stood still. Allegri team selection sucks a lot and he will not improve. A managerial change is needed.
on the 24th October, 2012 at 10:17am
Good article, especially the third and fourth points. They aren't elaborated on enough.

Milan is still struggling to get results but without spending money on stars in January, how can this squad be expected to improve once Allegri is gone? Another coach might be able to motivate them better or try different tactics but this is a young Milan side and most of the young players need to play. Having said that, not all of them can play like 'the Little Pharoah'.
on the 24th October, 2012 at 1:56am
We saw tonight why Juve are doing so well. If Milan played like that they'd lose 5-0! Milan need a little luck. The first goal from Lazio at the weekend was ridiculous. Juve have had enormous luck and some dodgy deacons. At least they've never got those decisions in the Europe. I wonder why....
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 10:00pm
Terrible performance and result from Juventus. They where terrible. They shoudl easily be winning these games. There goalkeeper played well, but it highligts once again the need for one or two clinical strikers liek Llorente and Drogba. Matri and Giovinco are rubbish, I cant believe they started the game. Neither are anywhere near champions league quality. I think Juve have blown it, europa league now to look forward too. Cant see them beating Chelsea or Shaktar away. Really bad news for italy.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 9:54pm
Lets all be fair on max now! without anger cloudying our toughts!, lets forget the last seassons since they are in the past and only losers talk of the past! are you a loser? no so shhh. Anyways max have never had a fully fit team! he never had the luxury of that! so the team is always being introduced to new players because some 1 is injured! some mights say it's his training methods! lol you get paid 4mill euro a seasson and you are that weak?!? this are athletes they should handel it! end.:(.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 7:40pm
Pirlo and Nesta didn't want to extend BECAUSE of Allegri not despite him. I can never forgive him for his treatment of these two legends and Inzaghi.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 7:07pm
@RossoneriFido! Milan didn't play well in 1st half but got punished by a deflected effort&a screamer that no keeper would have saved. In 2nd half, Milan played well and reduced lazio to v.few chances. In the last 30 minutes, Lazio wasted a lot of time&ultimately the block by dias on el sharaawy shot denied Milan a much deserved point. selection will improve with a now fitter squad and the defense has to also be more alert. the opportunity is there to turn the corner vs genoa, palermo&chievo!
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 4:58pm
@Evo1953! Milan scored the most goals in Serie A last season. They played the best brand of football despite the fact that one cannot deny that Juve were definitely more of an efficient winning force.

as for his first season. Ibra, Pato and Robinho all finished on 14 goals. A collective team effort along with a tight defence won milan the league.

I also have one phrase for you. Support your local team.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 4:53pm

"2 trophies in his first season and last season despite juve winning the league, Milan played the best football in serie A by a mile."

My friend, you must have been watching a different kind of sport. I've got one word for you - Juventus.

As for Allegri winning his first scudetto a couple of years ago, I'd say it was not as a result of his ingenious coaching skills but because of one little uknown player named Ibrahimovic. His tactics were pass a ball to Ibra and he'll pull us out.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 3:15pm
These are the things that kept me defending Allegri for the past couple of years. While everyone criticised his tactics I noticed that he got the best out of many players. I remember Abate was almost a failure before Allegri came. Now he's a fantastic right back. Also, the removal of the veterans may have gotten Allegri a lot of flack, but it was something that had to be done. Despite these good things I think he needs to be sacked. He looks out of ideas.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 3:11pm


Your the only person on earth that claims SES is lucky and only runs alot. Your aware of he's age? The guy is proberbly up among top 3 talents Italy has right now. Insigne, veratti, SES
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 3:09pm
While Galliani & Berlusconi deserve to be criticized for leaving the club in this condition as they had plenty of chances to buy during the summer, Allegri is getting all the blame now. Let's not forget that no coach is a magician and miracles can not be performed over night especially after only 8 or 9 games. This team needs to find it's identity and experimenting with the back four is part of it. Give Allegri until January and once a couple decent players are bought his team will perform again
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 3:01pm
@ Eewstafa

Struggling the last two years? You mean the year he won the league and last year when he came second? If it's one thing i hate its whe people who are so biased they start to dislike other teams for no reason. It's a shame they still allow you to post here. You contribute with only anger, spite and provacative nonsense.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 3:00pm
@x milan fan

Your a disgrace to milan fans. You never been a real fan if you give up this easy. Demoted o serie b?? Never
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 2:54pm
I wouldn't pay Boateng in metal washers he is awful!
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 2:47pm
i just know for sure that things will soon get better for acmilan, it will only take some winning to put them on the winning lap.just 8 games and more to come, i love acmilan and their losing today cant stop me from them,it will be better they leave the team like this and add up some mature players,all this has be cause by the management of milan and not the players or Allegri
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 2:32pm
The biggest myth of all, is that Allegri has only struggled this season.

If anyone wants to know what Allegri is doing wrong, just look at the results against the big teams last season. The best managers are at the biggest clubs, and he is consistently out thought by the managers at those clubs.

Not surprisingly, things havent changed this season. The biggest sides we have faced are Inter, Lazio and Udinese. We have managed zero points from these games.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 2:28pm
All good points but the thing I find most worrying is his failure to pick a first choice back four. This is the most important department on the pitch, especially the centre back pairing, and there appears to be no logic to the changes. Bonera is woeful at times but if we are going to put faith in him (it's only been 6 years) then can we just play him in every game until he learns how to defend. Meanwhile, if we are paying Mexes an absorbitant wage can we play him?
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 2:05pm

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