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Saturday December 19 2015
Miha can't win at Milan

Sinisa Mihajlovic is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, argues Edoardo Dalmonte.

“If we win, we could do better. If we draw or lose, we’re in trouble.”

It’s hard to disagree with Sinisa Mihajlovic’s frustrated statement, and even harder to evaluate the Coach without analysing the hot mess that is Milan's front office at the moment.

In the crazy world that is Italian football, the Rossoneri have got that tiny detail we call P.R. back to front: whilst the media was arguably giving them a pass and criticizing Inter (who were, you know, actually winning games) early on, President Silvio Berlusconi has done almost everything possible to antagonize and belittle its Coach in public.

Whether it’s insisting that the team play with two strikers – something Il Cavaliere also asked of Carlo Ancelotti after he’d already won the Champions League– or visiting the opposition’s dressing room to congratulate the visiting manager, it’s hard to argue that Mihajlovic was being given the benefit of the doubt as little as two months into the job, what with all this supposedly in-house chatter somehow finding its way to the papers ("Adriano, when are you going to fire Miha?").

Though the Serbian has begun to fight back both off the pitch (half-jokingly telling Berlusconi “not to walk into the wrong dressing room next time”) and on it, reports are that the club’s President will opt for someone else next season, with Antonio Conte leading the shortlist. Mihajlovic could be sent packing as early as January if the next few results don’t conform to expectations.

But conform to what, exactly? Remember when Milan were embarrassed at home by Napoli to the tune of four goals and Lorenzo Insigne dancing like his boots were crawling with red ants? That was a whole 11 games ago, and Milan have only lost once in that time, to a resurgent Juventus.

Spending around €86m on transfers doesn’t mean the team will be spectacular (at least not immediately) or even top the league. And how can one wave that sum in Miha’s face without considering that Vice-President Adriano Galliani arguably overpaid for Andrea Bertolacci, and that the squad was in a pretty poor state before he did? Though promising, injuries have prevented Bertolacci from emulating Alessio Romagnoli, another roundly mocked transfer.

Anyway, €25m (€30m with bonuses) of that went on Carlos Bacca. What, the same Bacca who was one of Europe's best strikers at Sevilla and has netted seven Serie A goals despite only taking 1.2 shots per game? Hey, maybe that Galliani guy isn't the complete idiot we all think he is!

For those who haven’t noticed, this league has improved recently since Milan finished in 10th place last year. Inter (who finished in 8th) are leading the table, Fiorentina (4th) and Napoli (5th) are competing, and Roma are still in the mix. Sassuolo have somehow sneaked into sixth place, and Juve are back in the title race. There is no shame to not qualifying for Champions League football, Mihajlovic's stated objective.

It's just as hard to point the finger at the Coach when the club has been such a total mess in recent years. After the Clarence Seedorf and Pippo Inzaghi fiascos, trailing fourth place by five points - and with a decent squad on which to build on -  is a picnic by comparison.

This is not to say that Sinisa is a great manager, or even the club's Coach of the future. The attack has looked listless, the midfield has yet to really kick into gear and the team often hikes long balls forward. I wasn't sure about bringing in a manager who was coming off just one good season at Sampdoria, but had failed at Fiorentina and has not shown much else.

But what's the point of bringing a Coach in if he isn't going to be given a fair shake?

It's bad enough that Milan are in negotiations with Bee Taechaubol, a man who tried to run the club's transfer window despite not having bought the club or even proved that he has the funds to bid for it.

Now it’s torpedoing a man who has at least helped reorganise the defence. From last year’s 50-goal shipwreck to conceding just seven in 11 games, Mihajlovic has made progress with an ageing Alex, the sloppy Ignazio Abate and Mattia De Sciglio.

The midfield can count on Giacomo Bonaventura - who has played superbly – and the returning M’Baye Niang, who provides width and an attacking threat. Juraj Kucka actually played decently after moving from Genoa, as has Alessio Cerci. With Mario Balotelli and Jeremy Menez hopefully starting regularly in 2016, this team could finally make that step forward fans are looking for.

If Silvio Berlusconi lets it, that is.  

Have your say...
@me
He is better than Balotelli and thats the most important thing. The last thing we want is to be relying Balotelli.

This whole teams a mess. This bunch of players have no place in any team trying to get back into Europe and actually reach the heights of passed greats.
on the 22nd December, 2015 at 8:39pm
Carlos Bacca is not one of Europe's best. He's a really good player and not the striker for a team wanting to win Serie A..I mean not as the number one option.
on the 22nd December, 2015 at 4:26pm
Godman100, yes he may well have, but his experience hasn't been very productive, both at club management and international management.
Which is why I mention Sarri and Ranieri, who both have proven to be excellent coaches without the need for a big checkbook. They actually are on the training ground coaching, making their players better.
Miha won't be in charge next season at Milan, so hopefully they find a coach who can produce.
on the 21st December, 2015 at 9:09pm
Bertolacci and Romagnoli aren't bad buys but the money spent on them was ridiculous. Bonaventura has certainly been superb and for the amount he was signed looks to be a steal and Bacca I think was perfect to bring a clinical presence to the frontline. What I can't understand why they would loan out Paletta and keep Ely who clearly needed more Serie A experience whereas Paletta has several years at the top level. Now the club has to rely on Alex, who's on his last legs.
on the 21st December, 2015 at 3:56pm
@maradonamac - Miha actually has significantly more Serie A experience than Sarri. As for Ranieri, truth is his career has been very much hit and miss, and I personally don't really rate his work at Leicester as spectacular because frankly the defending in that league is so abysmal any pro attacking team would excel.
on the 21st December, 2015 at 3:45pm
He's a lucky boy to get such a job, but it's way too big for him.
The board need to sort themselves out before they kill this amazing club any further.
Look at the last 3 coaches for goodness sake! Somebody, somewhere tell me why they can't find an experienced COACH/MANAGER, not just a name or a former player. Look at Napoli with Sarri, Leicester with Ranieri for example.
This is AC Milan, and must be doing better.
on the 21st December, 2015 at 2:54am
I think Ac Milan players are lazy and do not have fighting spirit. They should work harder and show more determination and confidence...
on the 20th December, 2015 at 7:02pm
I know I keep saying this over and over but Milan were only good when Galliani had someone like Braida holding his hand. After he left Milan Galliani took over completely ( with regards to transfers) and things went south really fast. Galliani is a bargain basement shopper. Milan needs someone who can spot quality. It can be done, Kaka in 2003 being the most recent example.
on the 20th December, 2015 at 7:22am
Few points behind Juve and all we hear is how bad they are etc. When was the last time you editors wrote anything good at all? How about an article about Donnadrumma who seem to be the seasons, the leagues most promising youngster? The fact that our entire D changed totally since he started playing??
on the 19th December, 2015 at 11:31pm
Hm..yeah, i agree with some of what has been said; though i can't rid myself of the thought that our main problems are at the head of the club. At times i really wonder, i mean; chopping and changing managers are getting us no where, i feel the club itself has problems. I may be wrong but for us to be the team that we where in the past, the structure of the club will have to change and for me, that starts with Gallaini.
on the 19th December, 2015 at 9:54pm
Cont. Galliani and Berlusconi are at fault for Milans struggles and the so called sale of the club should have been finished long time ago but for some reason it's being dragged on. The sale just has a really bad vibe about it, this could well blow up in Berlusconi's face and hurt both Milan and the fans. I just hope to see Milan sign a couple good midfielders and perhaps a defender and they could end up in the top four.
on the 19th December, 2015 at 8:53pm
Miha isn't a bad coach but he isn't a good one either. He certainly is a step up on Seedorf and Inzaghi but not by much. Yes he has done better than either before mentioned coaches but he also has had more experience and a better squad at his disposal. Milan should have gone after Di Francesco he may not have the experience but he certainly has proven himself at Sassuolo. While Miha hasn't really done anything noteworthy at Samp. and was a disaster at Fiorentina.
on the 19th December, 2015 at 8:48pm
Midfield has always been our main weakness. Attacking coaches and sacking them will not change anything if we didn't address the main problem. How can a team of Milan's caliber not have a Box-to-box midfielder !!!!! We clearly need one such as[Liverpool's Emre Can, Chelsea's Ramires, ..]not the idle Montolivo or slow Kucka. Let's just hope that Boateng can fill that big void in our midfield. Also, why drool over the 40 m $-rated Esco when we have the creative Sousa?
on the 19th December, 2015 at 6:10pm
Miha has been unlucky.He had clear ideas with the 4-3-1-2 but early red cards against Fiorentina and Genoa and an unlucky loss against Inter put his ideas into question.When the team showed signs of growing into the formation,the 4-0 loss to Napoli caused panic and there was a lot of pressure on Miha to change things and to his credit he has proven able to adapt.But I think he should go back to a 4-3-1-2 when Menez and Balo return with Menez as terquartista and Berto taking over as regista.
on the 19th December, 2015 at 4:59pm

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