From coaching Virtus Lanciano to being rumoured the next coach at San Siro and even the Italian national team. It’s been one heck of a ride for Di Francesco. Few could have predicted the 46-year-old would be in this luxurious position so soon in his coaching career.
Let’s remember, he stayed just 20 games at Lanciano, 61 games at Pescara, and 14 games at Lecce, before arriving at Sassuolo. It was there that the rise of EDF began. He guided the Neroverdi to Serie A, saved them from relegation during their first season in Italy’s top flight - having been sacked and then reinstated - and has transformed them into a team that plays attractive and winning football with young Italian talent.
No wonder Milan are seriously thinking about replacing Sinisa Mihajlovic with Di Francesco. The Serbian coaches like he played: emotional and tenacious, but not always with loads of tactical ingenuity. More heart than head, in short. There’s nothing wrong with that style of coaching, but it’s not what the Diavolo need at this point in their rebuilding process.
What Milan need is Di Francesco. One would argue that he could do wonders for a player like Giacomo Bonaventura. The 26-year-old has been Milan’s best player this season, but he needs a system that works in his favour. A 4-3-3 formation, like EDF uses at Sassuolo, would help him greatly. No doubt if he gets a free role as playmaker like Domenico Berardi, or Lorenzo Insigne at Napoli.
But the Rossoneri have other talents to develop as well. Just think about Alessio Romagnoli. Di Francesco turned former Milan flop Francesco Acerbi into an Azzurri again, learning him how to use his vision, feet and physicality to his advantage. Meanwhile, Andrea Consigli has blossomed under EDF, which could lead to the conclusion that Gianluigi Donnarumma will be in save hands.
Furthermore, there’s the case of Mattia De Sciglio. In a best case scenario, the right-back will be able to dig into his full potential and become relevant again. EDF did do a wonderful job with Sime Vrsaljko, which could also help the young Davide Calabria.
And who knows, maybe the Sassuolo coach will be able to reignite the fire in Andrea Bertolacci. “There is only one problem with the 4-3-3, which is you struggle to mark the opposition playmaker,” EDF said recently. Hello Bertolacci, there’s your job!
The Diavolo are in dire need of a clear football vision, which is not present at the moment, and Di Francesco offers one. “My football is about vertical passes, give and go, attacking the space. I always tell the lads: two square passes are already too many.”
The Neroverdi Coach has also been linked with the Italy job, with Antonio Conte to leave after Euro 2016, but that would surely be the wrong move for the young tactician, who would likely have the same complaints as the current CT, relating to time spent with his players.
Of course, Di Francesco will have less room for error at Milan and Silvio Berlusconi is not the most patient man. It’s been five years since the San Siro club won a trophy: the 2011/2012 Supercoppa Italiana. Still, EDF is the right man for the job, as he will be able to put the right players in the right places, while using a system that gets the best out of them.
Watch Serie A live in the UK on Premier Sports for just £9.99 per month including live LaLiga, Eredivisie, Scottish Cup Football and more. Visit: https://www.premiersports.com/subscribenow