Coming into this season, Milanisti had very promising expectations for the club that had been going through one of the darkest times in its history. After spending roughly 200 million euros and acquiring excellent players like Portuguese international André Silva and Leonardo Bonucci from rivals Juventus, the club finally looked positioned to emerge as a European giant again.
Milan had qualified for the Europa League before and was looking to build off the progress of last season by gaining a top four position to play in the UEFA Champions League next season. However, as of right now, that dream seems to be a bit of a reach.
Despite a solid start to the season, Milan would start to struggle for a number of reasons that included fitness, chemistry, and even managerial issues. They have not been living up to the expectations everyone set for them at the beginning of the season. In the Europa league, Milan placed first in their group and as a result, advanced to the round of thirty-two. While domestically, they sit eleven points behind fourth-place Roma who have a game in hand, there is still a lot of football left to play with roughly half the season left to get this thing right.
Milan management decided to sack manager Vincenzo Montella and hire former Milan player Gennaro “Rino” Gattuso. His previous managerial experience included Palermo, Pisa, and the Milan Primavera. While his time spent as a senior manager can be looked at as underwhelming, it should be noted that he was not placed in the best position to succeed. While that is not an excuse, Gattuso should still be given the benefit of the doubt now that he is in a more prime position to succeed; before his recent appointment as Milan’s manager, he was in charge of the Primavera side who sat third in the table before he departed.
Rino’s Milan gained a much-needed win this weekend in light of the bumpy first two games under his tenure. The next couple of games are on the easier side and he has to use that to his advantage; these games can be vital for getting Milan’s season back on track.
The next three games on tap for the Rossoneri are against 19th place Hellas Verona – in both the league and Coppa Italia – and 11th place Atalanta. Gattuso should use these games to evaluate his players and find a formation that best suits the style of football he wants to play. If he can use these games to sort out these issues, than Milan still have a fighting chance of salvaging this season.
The first thing Gattuso should look at is his player, and primarily in the attack.
One of Milan’s major issues this year has been their inability to score, so using these games to find a striker that can lead the attack over the rest the season is a must. With the issues at the striker position this season, it would be the perfect chance to see what André Silva could do when given the starting position.
Silva has shown tremendous talent and goal-scoring ability in European competition this season, but has failed to find the net domestically. It doesn’t help that most of his appearances in Serie A this season have been as a substitute.
For a player of Silva’s age, confidence is key. So if Gattuso gives him the opportunity to find his footing and prove himself in these easier games, it will go a long way for both the player and this Milan team as a whole. Croatian striker Nikola Kalinić has struggled up top for Milan as well so if Silva proves he can handle the responsibility as a starting striker, he could easily become Rino’s number one option for the rest of the season.
Now through his first three games, Gattuso has fielded three different formations in his starting eleven, with his most successful being the 433 formation. These upcoming games can be the time where he either solidifies that as his preferred formation or explores others.
Milan has struggled to find a brand of football to call their own in recent years and with the upcoming slot of games, the fiery boss has the chance to fix that by finding a style of play that highlights the strengths of this squad.
The best teams in the world are the ones that have an identifiable style of play, and that’s a major factor in their success. This is evident when looking at Milan because the team has a great deal of talent, but that alone has not been enough to produce success, hence why these next few games are so important for Gattuso to explore different tactics and formations to find one that elevates his side.
With over half of the season still left to be played, the red and black are in prime position to salvage their season. Whether it’s domestically or in Europe, Milan still has a chance of returning to Champions League football. However, the next few games are critical for them since Gattuso has the opportunity to assess his team and address some of the major issues that currently exist – like a lack of identity and their striker woes. While these are not problems that can be solved overnight, Gattuso can use the more forgiving matchups coming up to address these problems and possibly find some solutions.
It’s obvious Gattuso is not expected to lead this Milan to a Scudetto this season, but he still controls the team’s destiny and is in a position to still achieve the preseason goal of a Champions League berth.