With much hope going into the season, Milan failed to turn things around in yet another disappointing season which saw them finish seventh in Serie A.
Leading into the season, Milan were much anticipated to be competing for third place in Serie A in hopes of returning to Champions League football. There were some major changes in personnel heading into this campaign. With big name signings including Carlos Bacca, Alessio Romagnoli, Andrea Bertolacci and Luiz Adriano, the rossoneri believed they were well equipped approaching the opening weeks of the season. The first half of the season looked encouraging for Milan as they headed into the Christmas break, but as we all witnessed, the wheels fell off.
Serie A: 7th place.
Coppa Italia: Lost in Final vs Juventus.
While Milan lacked consistency for most of the season, there is truly no excuse as to why they missed Europe for the third consecutive year. With the roster they equipped, Milan often squandered chances against lower teams in the table which saw them miss out on sixth place by three points. Against the likes of the three relegated teams Frosinone, Carpi, and Hellas Verona, Milan only managed to take away seven points from these six games. Interestingly enough, Milan were able to gain victories over the likes of Inter, Fiorentina and Lazio and draws away from home against second placed Napoli and third placed Roma. This seasons Serie A campaign was very inconsistent for Milan and they struggled to field a consistent starting eleven throughout the season due to the fact some key players were simply not performing up to their capabilities.
The only constant that Milan has maintained over the year was that Berlusconi and Galliani made yet another managerial change, this time midseason after suffering a 2-1 home defeat to future champions Juventus. While there was a considerable drop in performances after Christmas, one can argue that Siniša Mihajlović was on the right track in terms of turning the team around. Despite his recent hiring only several months before, former rossoneri player Cristian Brocchi was promoted from the Primavera squad to the first team manager. Looking for a spark, Milan were victorious in Brocchi’s first game in charge gaining a 1-0 away win against mid-table side Sampdoria. However, down the stretch Milan would only win one more match; a 1-0 away win against mid table Bologna.
Since the beginning of the season, it had been made clear that winning the Coppa Italia was one of Milan’s main objectives due to the competitive nature of the league to gain European qualification. By winning the Cup, Milan knew that even if they slipped up in the league they would still have direct access to next seasons Europa League competition. Milan had a considerably easy route to the Coppa Italia final as they faced the likes of Perugia, Crotone, Carpi, and even Lega Pro side Alessandria in the semi finals. Although Milan needed a Giacomo Bonaventura free kick in extra time to get by Serie B side Crotone, they would ultimately handle Alessandria with ease in the semi finals with a 6-0 aggregate victory.
Down the stretch, it seemed as if Milan would not need the Coppa Italia final as direct access to Europe as finishing sixth placed seem more likely, especially with how their scheduled favored them. However, with key losses down the stretch Milan finished the season four points behind Sassuolo and ultimately needed to win the Coppa to salvage something from this 2015-2016 campaign. While Milan played an excellent match against champions Juventus, they would fall in extra time to an Alvaro Morata strike minutes from forcing a penalty shootout.
Player of the Season: Gianluigi Donnarumma
In a very frustrating season, Milan can consider that they now have a top goalkeeper for a very long time. In a very tense part of the campaign, Mihajlovic made a bold move by starting the sixteen-year-old goalkeeper against Sassuolo. Milan would win the match 3-2 and Donnarumma never looked back. In thirty starts between the pipes this season, Donnarumma managed eleven clean sheets. This is extraordinary for any first time starter, but what makes it even more impressive is the fact that Donnarumma was only sixteen years of age at the time. Gigio made many jaws drop throughout the season with his play even in matches where Milan were defeated and played poorly. Going forward Milan have found a very incredible young talent and a future number one goalkeeper for years.
Signing of the Season: Carlos Bacca
Throughout the summer mercato, it was well known that Milan were in the market for a top striker. After a failed attempt to secure the services of Colombian Jackson Martinez, the rossoneri turned their attention to fellow national team striker Carlos Bacca who was fresh off a Europa League winning campaign with Sevilla. Starting all thirty-eight matches throughout the Serie A campaign, Bacca managed a total of eighteen goals, good for a third place finish in the league behind Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala. For a team that lacked consistent playmaking skills, this can be seen as a great statistic for Bacca in his first season at the club. In a season where Milan lacked consistent play, it can be said that the 30 million euro spent on Bacca was money well spent.
Overall, it was yet another disappointing season for the rossoneri and its fans. With big money signings and a change in manager it seemed Milan at the least would make a return to Europe, even if it was just the Europa League. With a number of poor performances and player turmoil in the locker room, Milan struggled to really put together a solid run of performances that could persuade fans into thinking they had legitimately changed at the club. Going forward, Milan need to solidify a clear identity. Whether it is cleaning house of the players they currently maintain, finding future investors to pump serious money into the club, or even start building young Italians for the future. It was a season of wasted chances and more disappointment from a group of players who seemed uninterested and lacked chemistry. Milan need players who play their hearts out for the shirt and can put in consistent performances to return to European football and once again, a well respected team in Italy.