AC Milan’s attitude towards top teams must improve

Adriano Galliani reportedly left the stadium last night without visiting the players in the dressing room. AC Milan’s CEO was disgusted with his men in red and black. Milan were soundly beaten by Juventus in Turin. The away side showed plenty of resolve, reminiscent of a plucky provincial team, but little else in terms of ambition and drive.

Sinisa Mihajlovic fielded an attacking trident of M’Baye Niang, Carlos Bacca and Alessio Cerci. On paper, this front-line is somewhat daunting. However, during the game, none of these players attempted to rise above the mediocrity around them. Cerci was particularly awful and Niang inconsistent as ever. Milan’s defense and midfield launched aimless long-balls into the opposition third, expecting Bacca to chase the delivery down the channels.

Milan’s fullbacks, Luca Antonelli and Ignazio Abate rarely ventured past the halfway line. They held their ground and partnered with the rest of the team to stifle the home side. Neither of the fullbacks managed to record a cross during the entirety of the game. Only one through ball was attempted over the ninety minutes. Milan had arrived with the intent to shut shop and wrestle a draw out of Juventus. But, why would they approach the game with an attitude of cowardice, as the opponent had previously struggled against the likes of Udinese, Frosinone and Sassuolo?

On the day of his appointment as head coach of AC Milan, Mihajlovic’s words were, “Milan have always been a side to be feared and I want that Milan side back. I want my Milan team to instill fear in other teams. We will be like our motto – a team of devils, red like fire and black like the fear we will instill into our opponents. I am convinced that we can achieve good things this season.”

Full points for drama. That is an applause-worthy speech to get the fans on-board. These words, though, have failed to translate into performances on the football pitch. Milan have perennially looked afraid and inferior when facing relatively tough oppositions. The mentality is fragile and zeal nonexistent. This team has suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of Fiorentina and Napoli. Games against Genoa, Torino and Sassuolo revealed gaping problems in the squad and in the tactics.

Milan are currently 7th on the table having lost to four teams in the top six. Milan barely beat Sassuolo (placed 5th) and are yet to face Roma (positioned at 3rd) this season. In the four defeats, Milan have managed an average possession percentage of 43.5%, an average of 1.75 shots on target per game scoring only one goal across four games and conceding eight goals in exchange. These statistics are dreadful for a club of Milan’s stature.

Ever since Carlo Ancelotti passed the baton to Leonardo, the club has signed coaches incapable of imparting confidence and belief to the squad. Mihajlovic was hired to whip the dormant bunch back into life. Although his no-nonsense attitude has helped infuse life into the inert legs of several players, his stratagem shackled the team from taking flight. Ultimately, it’s not defeat that annoys fans, but the manner of defeat that agitates the Milan faithful.

With Silvio Berlusconi openly condemning the coach and taking repeated jabs at him in the media, Mihajlovic is tasked with immediately altering the perspective of the squad. Before reminding the players about the sanctity and legacy of the jersey, Mihajlovic must be reminded that he no longer coaches Sampdoria. He is the head coach of one of the biggest football clubs in the world.

Follow Rajath Kumar on twitter. You can read some of his other work at Sportskeeda by accessing his archive.

4 thoughts on “AC Milan’s attitude towards top teams must improve

  1. As much as i agree with lots of what you say you are also overly-negative and fail to see any bright spots such as Romagnoli, Antonelli, Donnarruma. The team defended well but Juve were obviously better organised and playing at home. Yes Milan didnt win but they werent far off standing toe to toe with Juve. You have to be realistic – its going to take probably another 2 season before Milan are challenging again but players like Romagnoli, Locatelli, Calabria, Donnarumma point to a brighter future!

    • Hi Northernmalewhite,

      Appreciate the comment.

      While I appreciate your optimism, a lot of my analysis is based on hard facts and stats. Romagnoli did have a decent game, but was caught out of position for Dybala’s goal. I can’t agree with you on Antonelli because he had a torrid game. Donnarumma on the contrary played well and is a bright spot. The team has improved defensively, but therein lies the catch. The focus on defense is so high, that other facets of the game have been ignored. I’m not expecting Milan to challenge any time soon. But that Juventus team is not what it used to be. We are a lot better than we pretend to me. If we were a bang average side, I would’ve had expectations to match the quality in the side.

      • Stats rarely explain a game.
        Romagnoli was caught out of position due to Abate. Antonelli had little protection due to Bona/Niang not tracking back which also meant Romagnoli had to step into midfield to help and move over towards Antonelli many times, thus being pulled around all over the place. The main problems are in midfield but i’d expect more balance when Berto returns, Bona moves up front and Montolivo gets replaced (hopefully).
        The focus was on defence as i imagine the idea was to stay compact and try and steal a goal on the counter – a good plan against Juve at home – but obviously it didnt work.
        that Juve team just beat Man City at home so its not an easy game.

  2. I’m in agreement with most of your points. But, my concern is the approach in itself rather than the effectiveness of the approach taken. To play defensively and only to play on the counter against ‘this’ Juventus side is unacceptable, when the gulf in quality isn’t too much. They did beat City, but were largely the inferior team.
    Yes, the team will be more balanced when Bertolacci returns, he is very critical to how our midfield functions. Looking forward to his return.

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