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Saturday December 12 2015
Milan's cautious revolution

The latest Milan revolution is more realistic but must continue to cut away the perennial team failures, insists Federico Martone.

Expectations finally seem like they are being managed correctly in the half of Milan that is slowly accepting they have become the Liverpool of Serie A. At the beginning of this season sections of the Italian media, that amazingly included the Berlusconi-owned parts, were tipping Milan to come third. In retrospect that would appear to be a red herring that most of the club's fan base saw through.

Proof of this new pragmatism from many of the fans (granted some still want to party like it's 1998-99) is in their reaction to recent results. A 4-1 home victory against a Sampdoria side that have made a habit of being embarrassed this season was not treated as the beginning of a Scudetto charge.

Similarly the scoreless draw with Carpi - a club whose wage structure could probably be funded by what drops down the back of the Milan players' sofa at night - was not received with white handkerchiefs and/or suicide watch. This illustrates that the fans are willing to place their diminishing faith in the 'back to basics' approach of the club's latest Coach Sinisa Mihajlovic.

Mihajlovic quickly and correctly worked out that the club simply does not have the players to play like a 'big' team and should adopt a more prudent mentality. That instantly elevates Mihajlovic above the two rookies that preceded him, Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi.

He has also been canny enough to get some of the fans onside by playing young Italians like Davide Calabria, Rodrigo Ely and amazingly 16-year-old goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma - who probably thinks in fluent emoji. Milan fans can be pedantic and point out that Roberto Donadoni was available in summer, but in all honesty it could have been 10 time worse...it could have been Gennaro Gattuso.

Miha is certainly not without his questionable judgment calls, though. Despite early signs to the contrary, Riccardo Montolivo has remained as the most insipid and emblematically weak and negligent captain of the Berlusconi era.

Mattia De Sciglio was also once billed as the new Paolo Maldini but is well on his way to being the next Francesco Coco. He seems to have a similar candy-floss constitution to Stephan El Shaaraway, thusly, it is hard to tell if regular injuries are a genuine derailment or just another excuse for not being up to the hype.

On the subject of hype, fewer people are indulging Mario Balotelli the way he would like and that can only be a good thing. Balotelli was looking ready to win matches again before his own injury curse struck but is apparently on the verge of a return to action.

Italy Coach Antonio Conte is playing 'the carrot and stick' routine well with the eternal man-child at international level, but make no mistake, when your other option is as limited as Graziano Pellè: beggars can't be too choosy.

Let's not pretend calcio's most tawdry telenovela is even close to being cancelled, though, Adriano Galliani still resembles the conductor ordering the band to keep playing on the titanic and Silvio Berlusconi looks like a Teflon-faced oil state dictator. Despite Mihajlovic's rightful appraisal of the lack of quality (particularly in midfield and defence) in his squad, €86m was somehow invested in summer - even the quantum physicists at the Large Hadron Collider would struggle to furnish you with a logical answer as to how the signings of Andrea Bertolacci and Alessio Romagnoli equate to well over half of said figure.

Even more harrowingly for Milanisti however, is that the once imperious team Berlusconi built seems to have been weirdly reverse engineered to something closer to the Serie B outfit that he started with.

Back on the pitch, Jeremy 'The Phantom' Menez is still nowhere to be seen. With some projections for last year's stalwart to return to the pitch in February, Mihajlovic has given game time to M'Baye Niang and Alessio Cerci. Niang has age and a measure of goodwill on his side, but Cerci is perennial nearly man. He nearly makes the difference by nearly scoring a curler into the top corner, nearly. Now would be the perfect time for Cerci to move to the MLS and score 30 goals against college kids from Nebraska that earn a similar annual salary to Andrea Pirlo's Manhattan dog walker.

Milan fans need to be patient with Carlos Bacca, he's hit a dry spell but a player with the poacher's instinct and intelligent movement can turn it around quickly when made to feel confident and trusted. Gonzalo Higuain is a case example of this, the Argentine looked a diminished force at the end of last season, fluffing his lines when it mattered with a declining goal ratio and career (and hairline) some thought may be going the way of Giampaolo Pazzini. Higuain is now world football's in form striker, he's even outshone Robert Lewandowski, who looked like Marco Van Basten for a couple of months!

Patience and realism is the order of the day for all Milan fans as one must not get taken in by fairytales like Santa Claus and 'Mr Bee' heading towards Christmas. 

Federico Martone - @FedeCalcio

Have your say...
Bacca, Adriano, Romagnoli, Kucka, Bertolacci have all done well so far !!!

New CB (Glik) and 2-3 quality MID's needed ASAP. Bring back Paletta too

Out go Zapata, Poli, Noce & NdJ..for free or to the dogs with them !!!!! Suso, Calabria, Ely all need loans for experience...potential

Root cause for all this delayed overhaul....the take-over. Until the Milan take-over is finalised and Bee or whoever...comes-in and joins the Berlusconi's then no game changing transfer's are going to happen
on the 16th December, 2015 at 10:27am
Winter break will be crucial to Milan. With Menez,Bertolacci,and Balo healthy,Miha needs to decide on a formation and make transfers accordingly.Personally,I'd go with a 4-3-1-2 with Menez behind the strikers and Bertolacci,Jack,Monty in midfield.And Cristante is my surprise but realistic winter signing. He comes in to back up and eventually replace Monty.KPB is better cover than most of the guys we have but I think he would be a disruptive force.I'd sell Suso,Nocerino,Zapata and loan out Mauri.
on the 14th December, 2015 at 11:24pm
It's time Milan Stops signing players and let this squad play together for at-least a year. Every 5 months we have an entirely new starting 11 and the same old Blame Galliani , blame Berlusconi talk. Milan has a decent enough line up for a top 3 finish but they need time.

I believe the team is good enough right now for eventually winning serie a in 2-3 years time and returning to the champions league. But yes , you cannot expect that in one single season.
on the 14th December, 2015 at 6:59pm
I know this squad isn't stella but i kind of feel that they have it within them to at least beat carpi probably verona if the ref and de jong hadn't ruin milan game, if milan had won both those games they would be level with roma on points. 5th is achievable and realy should be the target only berlusconi and galliani talk about the champions league. Most fans know you can't turn around a team which finished 10th place last season with 4 senior squad signings it takes time and money.
on the 14th December, 2015 at 4:24pm
Donnarumma
Calabria - Glik - Romagnoli - Masina
Soriano - Bertolacci - Rabiot
Bonaventura - Isco
Bacca

Bit young and inexperienced, but a team for the future. Isco may be beyond reach, but if they have 90m to spend last summer then he should be at least be a possibility.

It would also be a team with several Italians - something Silvio could pat himself on the back with for the public and something that would genuinely help an iffy current national team in the long run.
on the 14th December, 2015 at 6:09am
@Maldini's Heir Montolivo is one of those "real men" that Conte loves. Yep, no panini stickers here.
on the 14th December, 2015 at 5:20am
@ Mil_Int That seems to be a pre-requisite for Conte's Italy: not taking responsibility for your own failings and blaming others. In fairness Monty is really good at that.
on the 13th December, 2015 at 10:20pm
As far as Montolivo goes I have noticed that he has been openly berating teammates the last few games. Not sure if that is to fire them up or to cover up his laziness. Knowing the player's history I would say it's to cover his laziness. How he still plays for Italy is beyond me.
on the 13th December, 2015 at 7:51pm
I said it before and I'll say it again, Milan can only become great again if they have a proper transfer guru like Braida to guide B&G. Until then Milan will always be a circus of clear outs and revolution.
on the 13th December, 2015 at 7:41pm
I think AC Milan has improved but they still need 3 players like Hummels, Rabiot and a decent attacking midfielder like Douglas Costa.
on the 13th December, 2015 at 7:20pm
Why every milan articles ended up with faulting on galliani? The man who is long lasting faithful servant of milan!. Why the ongoing ownership saga do not done yet? whom to blame for changing coach like diaper??!! Who has the problems understanding the reality???. Its mr. president, who knows he lost the war still believing he has his old glories . . .
on the 13th December, 2015 at 5:20pm
The sense of realism is from the long suffering fans, I acknowledge in there that Berlusca is still certifiable and has to be brought down for Milan to really regroup. Montolivo is a waif, one of the poorest players I've ever seen represent la Nazionale. A nothing player, if you like.
on the 13th December, 2015 at 4:01pm
I'm not sure where the writer is getting this new founded realism. All of the top brass seem to think we must qualify for CL no matter what. So I assume if we don't we'll fire another manager and sign another 10 players and then do the same the following season. The only way realism will hit Milan is if we accept the fact that it will take time to get back to the top. Rather than starting from scratch each transfer window we actually build slowly. Milan will be stuck this way until Galliani goes
on the 13th December, 2015 at 1:55am
I haven't seen anything worth 30 mil out of either Bertolacci ir Rmagnoli yet. Men is always injured, as is De Sciglio. Midfield is devoid of any play making talent, except for Jack, who clearly doesn't have wide enough shoulders to carry the whole team. L Adriano, is weak. Carlos is struggling to get the service. And defense is struggling with rotations of Zapata and Alex?!?!?!

This is a winning team?? 86 mil invested into this?!
on the 12th December, 2015 at 8:38pm
If any Milan fans still not thankful of what they have received from Romagnoli and Mihajlovic, just look at the comparison from the Sampdoria team of this year and last year. Just need Bertolacci, Balotelli, and maybe Menez back healthy before we start judging. FORZA CALCIO!
on the 12th December, 2015 at 8:28pm
I generally agree except in the criticism of Montolivo and Romagnoli. Montolivio has been the favorite scapegoat for Milan fans, but he's done nothing wrong this season. His passing has been accurate and his defending has been pretty good. If you watch Montolivo he is actually one of Milan's better players.

As for Romagnoli, the article seems to suggests he wasn't worth his price. He is the only reason Milan isn't conceding bags of goals like last season; for that, he's worth every penny.
on the 12th December, 2015 at 3:01pm
Interesting line of thought! You could also include the 'strange environment' that Sinisa pointed out as one impediment to engaging second gear as far as pitch progression/consistency is concerned. In a way Milan seems to be running a bit of bad luck. Out of the blue, Menez has a 'strange' infection that keeps him out to what, 8 months? Balo gets injured just when his contribution is needed to shift the Milan 'game' forward, Zapata worse than he was last season and Monty stagnation
on the 12th December, 2015 at 12:35pm

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