For Milan, there’s no shame in losing to Napoli. They’re one of the best sides in Europe, and play some outstanding attacking football, especially at home when they’re on top of a side. Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit that you got beat by the better team.
When Milan arrived in Naples this Saturday evening, many fans and neutrals were excited for the game, as they should be. But it became apparent early on that this may not be the contest we were hoping and, maybe wishfully, thinking it would be.
Napoli were exhilarating, fast on the ball and their usual self whilst Milan were a step behind, and that all started in the midfield, which then filtered down to the striker who didn’t have any service to work with. The Rossoneri may have won their last game prior to the international break against Sassuolo, but the fact of the matter is Vincenzo Montella was still under intense pressure following a huge summer of spending and a less than impressive start to the Serie A season. A win here wouldn’t have erased all of the pressure on Montella’s shoulders, but it may have been the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes.
But the result isn’t what will put Montella under pressure. Like I said, losing to this Napoli isn’t a shameful thing, not at all, but the lack of team shape from Milan, the jumbled positions of multiple players and the lack of activity in the substitution department are what everyone will notice, and most of the blame will fall at the feet of the coach.
If it wasn’t for the fact that Suso got injured in the first half, Andre Silva wouldn’t have been on the pitch at the final whistle. This is an Andre Silva who signed in the summer for 35 million euros and has 11 goals in 18 international caps for Portugal, yet he struggles to get any game time for Montella’s side. Why? If it wasn’t for the fact that Suso got injured, Montella wouldn’t have made his first substitution until the 77th minute, which was bringing Ignazio Abate on for Fabio Borini at right wing back. I’ll ask again, why? You needed a goal, so you bring on a wing back?
By saying Montella should be sacked won’t shock anyone, but I don’t think there has been a time during his tenure at San Siro where the team look as lost as they do in big games right now. The decisions in terms of where players play and who to bring on is certainly baffling, We can sit here all night and discuss the game and where Milan went wrong, but the set up and system from the very beginning sent out the wrong message.
Montella has never been the type of manager to have a certain system that his teams play. When you watch Manchester City, you know it’s a Pep Guardiola team. When you watch Napoli, you know it’s a Maurizio Sarri team. When you watch Milan, you have no idea what’s going on, and that’s the problem.
Will sacking Montella see Milan turn into Scudetto challengers overnight? Of course not, but employing someone who has a set way of playing, a set way of thinking and can install fresh and new ideas into the players is certainly a step in the right direction.