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.

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Have your say...
Milan is a below average team that is going to get relegated at d end of d season
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:44pm
All the comments before mine all have strong points, just because he changed a formation doesn't solve much cause its not working out for him, he got the best out of KPB and Noccerino last season but now with less players, Constant injuries and european football this squad will get so tired trying to find form is an impossible task itself, a time comes to get rid of the old guard but that experience of seedorf and nesta would have been helpful right now to pull this team through
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:11pm
I suggest you change the title from [What Allegri is getting right] to [What is he getting right?]

And apparently, he's not getting anything right !

The solution for Allegri is to leave. I doubted his ability since day ony. I thought his was never gonna be able to coach a top team. He was struggling in past two years with performance when he had a 'team', and now what do you expect from him with this so-called "team"?
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:10pm
I think we can credit Ibra with improving Boateng and Nocerino, not Allegri, or more specifically making them look better than they actually are. And I would only credit him with changing formation if we play a 4-2-3-1 against Malaga, I don't see how he could have thought going back to the 4-3-1-2 and dropping Emanuelson was a good idea. Emanuelson is so much better than Boateng and Nocerino.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:08pm
Nonsense. Abate has developed as far he can go, El Shaarawy just runs around a lot, and pulls off lucky shots and scores; instead of using Emanuelson as a left-back, Allegri insists on haphazard Antonini, changes his centre-back pairing nearly every other game, no wonder Milan are shocking in defence. Same tactics every match; knock the ball wide, push everyone into the box and get a hopeful cross in. The squad is capable of a lot more -- to use Allegri's scudetto win as excuse is just wrong.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:07pm
Milan still have a good set of players but it seems Allegri doesnt know how to utilise them.
For example:
Emanuelsson, good pace, left foot, play him on the left, not as a Trequartista!
Stick with a settled centre back pairing, any 2 of Acerbi, Mexes or Zapata. Foget Yepes - useless!
Solid midfield of De Jong, Nocerino with Montolivo adding the guile.
Abate bombing down the right from full back (Improved massively when Beckham was in front of him)
Pato, Pazzini or El Sharaway up front
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 12:00pm
Dear Rosario:
We played well against Lazio !!!!!!!!
Really did you even watch the first half.
We did nothing but concede goals against them.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 11:50am
"The man cannot force the players to put pen to paper." - one also needs to see what they were offered! milan's problem is that they replaced quality players, aging or not, with players of lower quality, such as yepes, who has a lot of drive, but was playing with chievo, and who is not any younger. this is especially true in defence, and in fact they are conceding a lot: the main reason for that is surely not wanting to spend much, for which berlusconi and galliani are probably responsible.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 11:36am
Abate was converted as a right back UNDER Leonardo. He initially was tested as a left back in his first few games whilst Antonini was on the right, based on their prior positions as wingers on that flank BUT Leonardo made the decision to switch their flanks in more defensive positions after the first few games in 2009.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 11:33am
Milan played 4-3-1-2 in the first half against Lazio, go figure. Milan have been much better with 4-2-3-1, but Allegri got stubborn again, reverted to type and paid for it. As for revitalising Nocerino and Prince, what you said applied to last season. This season, both players are mere shadows of the players they were last season, which I'm sure is not a coincidence considering Ibra, who used to create so much space for them with his hold up play, left. Neither is a team leader.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 11:13am
The positives are duely noted. However they are not enough. Milan is a big club looking for big results domestically and in Europe. Allegri singly handedly gave away the league last year buy immaturely playing silva and pato at times they were not ready. abate certainly progressed but he is not a top player to invest it and neither is antonini. he has failed at keeping morale and only learned from prandelli to slot shaarawy on the left and montolivo as a trequestista. Unconvincing....
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 11:10am
I am not saying it is all his fault but even with the players on hand, Milan should not be on the 15th spot. Milan should be in between the 7th to 10th spot.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 10:35am
Any person looking to blame allegri for Milan's current plight has either not been following football for too long or just plain fickle. 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. It's clear that Milan just need a break. they performed well vs Inter and Lazio and ahead of them they have a run of fixtures that can help to restore faith and credibility in the team. Tomorrow's game vs Malaga could be the start
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 10:34am
Pirlo and Nesta left because they do not trust him and because he doesn't know how to talk to them.

Abate was not a starter when Allegri first coached Milan. Allegri started with Zambrotta, yet after the poor display from Zambrotta against Madrid in first group stage Allegri then started with Abate.

Yes De Sciglio still needs lots of play time but he aint worse than Mesbah or Antonini.
His 4-3-1-2 should be plan (Never try it again) unless a true treq is at Milan and we know there is no one.
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 10:32am
Has he really switched formations? To me, it still looks like Allegri starts with a 4312, with KPB, in the hole. The only time I see him change formation, is when Milan are chasing a game.
Also, it was Leonardo who converted Abate into a right back!
Allegri should get credit for Nocerino's fantastic showing last season, but does this mean that we should criticize Allegri for Nocerino's shocking loss of form this season?
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 10:30am
At last, someone with some logic! Imagine Juventus selling off Buffon, Pirlo, Vucinic, Chiellini and would take some time to recover! Allegri is doing what he can with a new young squad, they're still looking for an identity. He has brought the best out of Nocerino/Boateng/El Shaarawy/Abate and he's growing De Sciglio. My only concerns about Allegri is his insistence on switching the centre back pair every match, this is destabilising the defence. We need 1 interim season!
on the 23rd October, 2012 at 10:21am

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