BLOG ITALIA
Wednesday January 14 2015
Rossoneri’s struggling rear guard

In spite of Coppa Italia progression, a struggling Milan defence remains a worry at the start of 2015, considers Sam Lewis.

Despite an intention to ring in the New Year with a new outlook complete with the arrival of a shiny new player in Alessio Cerci, it was the same old defensive issues that hampered Filippo Inzaghi’s side against Sassuolo.

Once again Milan attacked with vigour and should’ve doubled the one goal lead Giampaolo Pazzini gave them in the first half, as chances created from the incisive boots of Stephan El Shaarawy came thick and fast.

Cerci was bright and sharp in his full debut, hitting the woodwork and grabbing an assist as San Siro saw flashes of a Cerci-El Shaarawy partnership that could cause several defences problems.

However, it was once again the problems that the Diavolo defence suffered that nearly let Inzaghi’s side down, when a simple slipped ball somehow snuck through the backline to let Leonardo Pavoletti through. Although the decision to award the spot-kick was a difficult one to accept, the ease in which Sassuolo were again able to penetrate the Rossoneri was a worry.

Nigel de Jong’s winner was a relief, a revealing emotion considering the perceived feeling of grandeur that still exists around one of world football’s biggest names.

It was the second time Milan had suffered to maintain an advantage against Sassuolo within a matter of days, the club starting well before falling off and collapse under the most basic of pressure. The lack of resilience is a deeper lying issue than just personnel, although the continuing addition of forward thinking players in lieu of actually competent defenders is more than a prying concern at this juncture.

Another concern, is the Coach’s relentless positivity: “We must go back to playing with calmness, even if negative days can happen. Now we must restore our energy and come back with a good performance in Serie A.”

Inzaghi’s demeanour isn’t entirely worrying – after all an enthusiastic tactician can rub off on his players. However, the apparent ignorance of seemingly obvious defensive issues is a continuing problem.

Milan’s performance against Sassuolo, as shown by their previous performance against the same team, wasn’t a ‘negative day’ in an otherwise rosy few weeks in Via Turati. It’s an established process of bad habits that has hampered the side under Massimiliano Allegri, Clarence Seedorf and now Inzaghi. In fact, the club hasn’t looked particularly solid since the Scudetto-winning season of 2010-11, which in hindsight has proven to be an anomaly in the post-Carlo Ancelotti era.

January is upon us and in the footballing world it is a transfer window, an opportunity for Milan to address some of the identifiable - and hopefully fixable - issues, both in defence and in the midfield.

However, if Adriano Galliani spends the month trying to convince Roma to loan Mattia Destro out, the Rossoneri will once again spend another six months wondering why games like Sassuolo aren’t just ‘negative days’.

The victory was earned, but if the club doesn’t address or at least acknowledge that Cristian Zapata/Daniele Bonera/Philippe Mexes isn’t a defensive triumvirate that is guaranteeing trophies anytime soon, the drought will only continue.

If the mistakes pursue, Milan’s dream of holding a lead over 17 other clubs in Serie A will fade as quickly as consecutive first half advantages did against Sassuolo.

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Have your say...
Milan just lacks real quality right now in defence...

They're attack and midfield are decent without being great. It's pretty clear they badly need some solid CB's a good LB and probably a good striker to finish chances
on the 22nd January, 2015 at 1:40am
@viktor  If a team concedes as much as they score then the answer is stop conceding- to stop conceding we need defence NOT cerci and suso! Maldini heir kindly pointed out that Milan can now field whole team of wingers...
on the 19th January, 2015 at 1:31am
@eric star fury

Try Macann New York.
on the 18th January, 2015 at 11:51pm
Lads calm down. Lets not starting getting personal. As I've said before the point for me is that within the current financial limitations at Milan we simply are not prioritising our defence. We spent 8m on Bonaventura this summer and 11m on Matri last. If both of those signings had been defenders we may not be having this discussion. Its not about money. Its about priorities. I just wish that instead of making 9 signings we just made 1 key signing.
on the 18th January, 2015 at 11:41pm
stupidity which earns a 6 digit salary a year must be a member of the milan managerial staff.
on the 18th January, 2015 at 6:52pm
@my sure name's 'Anonymous' Don't see what personal hatred does at a football italia page, clearly the editor thinks your approach is suitable which i find very weird. Sorry miss typed 2014 and not 2015 huuuuge misstake Niang never had a peak nor was he raw talent, mastour is great with tricks and such but has he proven himself as talented footballer? SES is talent and just need consistency. You seem to know nothing about Milan. Btw, my stupidity earns me 6 digits a year, can't you say the same?
on the 18th January, 2015 at 5:14pm
@viktor
It's 2015- well it is for us on planet earth! You are clearly still as stupid as you were in 2014!
I think Milan could use your unique nurturing skills; you nurture stupidity, in the last few years your blogs have become more and more stupid, if Milan could nurture young talent and make them grow like you have nurtured your stupidity we could have had a team as strong as Barca!
Viktor you get my vote for AC Milan head coach anyday, you would work well with the deluded Berlusconi family
on the 18th January, 2015 at 1:38am
@my sure name's 'Anonymous'

And buy bale, ronaldo, james, neymar, messi and ask baresi to make an comeback. Wake up. Its 2014, were not what we use to be and we won't be until drastic measures are taken, which won't happen sadly.

For niang, ses and master you don't know what your talking about. Ses decides hes own future, niang still has time a head and mast our is 18. Just old enough to drive a car.
on the 17th January, 2015 at 4:24pm
2/2... i would like to sit with inzaghi and ask him exactly how the 3 of them (berl, galli and himself) go about picking players to loan and buy? I would like them to explain to me how the rest of the world can see that WE CANNOT DEFEND and that suso, cerci, and god only knows who else they are trying to add to this minestrone of rubbish, is going to stop us conceding goals!?! Some say we need 2 CB i say we need an entire over haul at the back, get rid of all of them and start again!
on the 17th January, 2015 at 9:48am
Defence defence defence! Galliani/berlusconi/inzaghi whoever is actually in charge please stop signing needles players and unsettling the team more! We need to cut this team by half and then make 4 absolutely ground breaking BUYS NOT LOANS- we need an whole new defence. 24years+ with experience in Champ. League. Get rid of every single other defender in this team! We have actually ruined ses, de sciglio and niang, Mastour is next. We have no idea how to treat genuine talent... 1/2
on the 17th January, 2015 at 9:37am
The budget being what it is milan just has to make the best of what it has at its disposal. if they was money however natasic would have been my ideal choice the likes of kjaer schar mussacchio alderwiereld dragovic would have made strong options hell even bocchetti or paletta would have probably been a discernible improvement on what milan has at this point in time.
on the 16th January, 2015 at 12:17pm
reasonable point the amount of squad rotation is frustrating but probably brought on by injuries, I would think all things being equal alex and rami are the preferred defensive partnership. Squad rotation however doesn't disguise the cb are extremely average at best especially in comparison to what came before. They are also very limited in age profile rami and zapata the only ones being under 30.
on the 16th January, 2015 at 12:06pm
so that the players have a chance to blend and then we can judge. I'm sick of seeing constant changes to the squad. In the summer I count we sold/loaned out 18 players and brought in 9. We've made another 2 purchases and we're only half through January and no doubt there'll be even more changes by the end of the month. I can't keep up and I've actually lost interest in the side. This isn't a football club. It's an airport.
on the 15th January, 2015 at 11:25pm
@ Silvio Cianfichi While I agree with some on your list I don't think anyone is in a position to judge most of the players. They simply have not been given sufficient game time. None are playing anywhere near their potential. Niang made great progress in 12/13 the year we finished 3rd. But since then his career like so many others at Milan has faded. I don't want to see any more signings until the summer. We need to get the squad down to 25 max, pick a consistent starting line up and formation
on the 15th January, 2015 at 11:19pm
@Viktor

He's not horrible but should not be a starter. He's quick enough to be a back-up. I don't care if he leaves I just think they need a real left back and if Milan can get some money from selling Desciglio, who seems to be regressing, go for it. Another option would be to keep Mattia and just have him be the backup himself.
on the 15th January, 2015 at 6:51pm
Almost forgot Zapata. He is also useless and needs to go. Try signing Perrin, Darmian, and Palleta. That would probably make too much sense.
on the 15th January, 2015 at 12:28pm
Here is the bottom line. Niang, Muntari, Mexes, Boeteng, Rami, Alex, and Bonera. These are all worthless players and have no business being on the pitch. And the coach is to blame. He has no experience and it showed the last 4-6 weeks. Last week he started Niang up front while Cerci and El Shaw watched from the bench. He thinks Bonaventura is the next Massaro and plays him the entire game which make no sense. Inzaghi like to score one goal and then sit back rest of match. Try signing defense
on the 15th January, 2015 at 12:26pm
I think Milan does not need to buy any more attacker or winger.
Just a playmaker and one or two solid CBs.
Play Elshaarawy as center forward!! He is Milan's best finisher and can be a real CF if Inzaghi let him to. Best formation with current players:(never play Bonera)

Menez............................SES...................Cerci

Bonaventura...................Dejong.............Montolivo/Honda

De sciglio.........Mexes/Rami........Alex........Abate
Lope
on the 15th January, 2015 at 9:15am
@Robf810

Armero is horrible..
on the 15th January, 2015 at 12:29am
@Jonas

Nah, we're way better.. and way more trophies
on the 15th January, 2015 at 12:28am
@jimmy_stallion

Losing nesta and Thiago affected us WAY more than pirlo.
on the 15th January, 2015 at 12:26am
In other news why would we re-sign Kingsley Boateng another winger. We can now make a starting 11 out of wingers:

Kingsley Boateng

Abate Armero Suso Cerci

Honda Niang SES Saponara

Menez Bonaventura

Sub: Mastour
on the 14th January, 2015 at 11:12pm
This is the point Zapata made. People have criticised him but how is he supposed to reach any kind of form when he's in and out of the team every week? If we don't have the budget or interest in signing CBs then can we at least just pick 2 and play them for 10 games straight regardless of results. They are all as bad and accident prone as each other so just pick 2. For me that's Alex for aerial ability and Zapata for pace. Mexes won't make 10 day games without suspensions
on the 14th January, 2015 at 11:08pm
That means we have to score at least a goal a game to draw and 2 if we are to win. It's a huge burden on the team. People on here lamenting the loss Thiago Silva and Nesta are of course right but one feature of the last number of years has been the constant rotation of our centre backs. The goalkeeper and centre backs are the most important position on the pitch. They are the foundation for the entire team. Yet we change those positions every week.Who are our first choice centre backs right now?
on the 14th January, 2015 at 11:03pm
I think we'll be writing blogs like this as long as Berlusconi and Galliani are in charge. It is obvious to everyone but them and it doesn't seem to be top of the manager's priority list. With all the bluster of our new attack we've actually scored the same number of goals as last season (1.5 per game). The defence is actually marginally better at 1.16 goals conceded per game down from 1.28 but the fact remains we concede nearly a goal every game.
on the 14th January, 2015 at 10:51pm
Sell DeSciglio. Bring in a real left back. Keep Armero as a backup. Start Alex and Rami. Hopefully Abate can stay heathy as he has looked good. Resign DeJong. Find a midfielder and a CB in the market. There is no need for more wingers at this point.
on the 14th January, 2015 at 10:10pm
Schar? Khedira? Who do you think you are, Inter?! Lol
on the 14th January, 2015 at 9:56pm
I agree with Eric and Jimmy, the team went down hill in the transfer window where they lost Silva and Nesta (Not to mention Pirlo) and didn't replace them. Instead they wasted money on rejected strikers. As a Juve fan I do like Inzaghi but no one can win with Mexes in your starting 11.
on the 14th January, 2015 at 6:45pm
to state the obvious you lose nesta and silva in 1 transfer the later getting you a fee of 43 million euros and replace them with a mixture of rejects and free transfers you are going to have defensive problems. purely in financial terms milan have spent a combined 20 million euros on the likes of salamon rami zapata acerbi and vergara that buys you half of silva.

Saying that I would like schar, I think milan needs to spend money on the players it needs rather than ones it can afford.
on the 14th January, 2015 at 4:22pm
I have been saying it for years, ever since Ancelotti left was when the rot started, especially under Leonardo onwards. Striker after striker, yet we have yet to fully replace Thiago Silva - opting for free transfers - which is a good strategy when it works - but the best players come at a price.

After Glik's outstanding performance on Saturday, he would walk into the Milan defence at ease.
on the 14th January, 2015 at 2:57pm

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