Regression is one word thrown around – in recent days – to describe the 2017-2018 Milan. Indeed the 200 million plus spent in the summer hasn’t improved the team. It is normal to blame the coach and in Montella’s case he did seem devoid of ideas and tactical know how. His number one fatal flaw is and will be best remembered as the coach unable to settle on a starting 11 or not using what seemed his best players all the time.
No one can be sure from the outside looking in but there legitimate questions to be asked. Why didn’t Andre Silva and Cutrone start more games, just to ask one. It is also normal to ask why the starting 11 changed so much and at the very least Montella didn’t find a working formation if not a constant starting one.
The choices made in the transfer market, presumably in consultation with Montella, can be seen, with hindsight, as one source of the problem. Sending Carlos Bacca out, not even for money but only on loan, for Kalinic seems at best to be a sideways move. More generally why not build a team that keeps Suso’s, the star of the 2016-2107 team, spot on the team secure. Paying big money for Andre Silva, Calhanoglu, and Kalinic with the view of letting them be starters (surely when the three cost almost 90 million) limits the formations where Suso also fits. A lot had also been seen and said about Milan’s poor midfield. Was enough done to provide a good and steady stream of supply for the ever changing forwards. Conti’s long term injury has hurt the team but even in the era of offensive and crossing-mad full backs any offence shouldn’t be built on a full back or two (Rodriguez being the other of course).
The deed is done however and it is now almost December and in a move that sounds too much like the Berlusconi/Galliani modus operandi a former player has been given the reins. He of the primavera team after poor to average and sometimes turbulent spells at Palermo, Sion, Pisa and OFI Crete. Can Rino Gattuso, with little experience or success as a coach, relaunch the season? Expectation are low, but not based on his playing time or character. The optimist might say that Gattuso’s no nonsense ways might rub off on the players. Is that enough? That is doubtful without strong tactical ideas to go along with it. In his unveiling press conference he has indicated that he will play a three man defense and four man midfield but that the offence will be worked out, he doesn’t have much time to decide and will need to be flexible yet with ideas.
Milan meet Benevento next. Benevento have exactly zero wins and ties in 14 Serie A games. Gattuso’s time can not start with giving the Campania based team a point.