The AC Milan legend may have admitted that he is the worst coach in Serie A this season, but I Rossoneri are hanging their hopes onto the 40-year-old former Milan Primavera manager. Can he be the one to inspire the somewhat struggling Serie A side to a strong finish this season?
And by saying ‘strong finish’, I mean by AC Milan standard. Gattuso and his side must be holding a ticket for a European spot at the end of the campaign, either by finishing at least sixth on the table or by winning the Coppa Italia.
Many people (including me) are actually sceptical about Gattuso being successful at Milan when they announced that the former defensive midfielder will take charge of the team until expectedly June 2019.
He even said that he’s no magician and as we can see now, apparently nothing much has changed since his appointment.
Milan are currently slumping in mediocrity while sitting 11th on the Serie A table – a position that’s even worse than when Vincenzo Montella was still in charge; which was 7th in the league. In fact, Milan haven’t even got to a better position than 7th in the league since they decided to sack Montella and experiment with a less-experienced manager in Gennaro Gattuso.
In fact so far, the team has won four matches, drew twice, and lost three times in all competitions under Gennaro “Rino” Gattuso.
In Serie A, the competition is probably not as tight as other competitions in Europe, but still, getting two wins, two draws, and two losses in six matches wouldn’t get you far in the league.
In Coppa Italia, I could say they did very well to reach the semifinals. Beating Hellas Verona 3-0 and their fierce rivals Inter 1-0 on their way. This competition could be very vital for them as this could be their ticket to Europe unless they could turn their luck around in the second half of the season and finish in a Champions League spot.
In Europa League, well Gattuso and his men lost against Rijeka but the job was already done for him as the club already qualified for the knockout stages. I can’t see Milan going far in this competition though, as they probably would prefer to focus more on domestic competitions.
How do they play though? Are there any improvements?
Ever since Gattuso took over, Milan always played with a 4-3-3 offensive formation (except against Benevento in Serie A and HNK Rijeka in Europa League where they played with a 3-5-2 flat formation). They are now more comfortable in possession too but still very susceptible to counterattacks.
But nothing much changes in terms of statistics. In fact, I could safely say that Montella still has recorded better statistics compared to Gattuso this season.
The defence is still quite shaky though despite playing with four defenders now and the attacking trios are still not as productive as expected. However one consolation is that the midfield looks a little bit more solid than it was before.
Led by Bonucci, the defensive four consisted of him and Romagnoli in the centre, while Davide Calabria and Ricardo Rodriguez occupy the right and left side of the defence respectively. Davide Calabria is often rotated with the more experienced Ignazio Abate though, but it seems like Milan have a better record when playing Calabria instead of Abate – the defence looks more solid and Calabria really shows how much of a bright talent he is lately, contributing to both the attacks and defensive structure, he definitely looks like a proper full-back. Romagnoli is also sometimes replaced with Mateo Musacchio.
The midfield trio often consists of Franck Kessie, Riccardo Montolivo, and Giacomo Bonaventura. Montolivo is sometimes rotated with Lucas Biglia and both didn’t play that bad. Kessie and Bonaventura have both been ever-present for I Rossoneri and performed very well in their own roles in the midfield. Kessie a box-to-box midfielder who’s not shy to go forward and score a goal has been nothing but brilliant for Milan, along with a more attacking-minded Giacomo Bonaventura, who has been the revelation of the first half of the season. The fans are hoping that they would be able to replicate their form in the second half of the season.
Meanwhile, the attacking trio is rotated pretty often by Gattuso. Sometimes, they go with Borini, Kalinic, and Suso. Or Borini, Cutrone, and Suso. Or Cutrone, Kalinic, and Suso. Or even Bonaventura, Kalinic, and Suso.
Now as you could see, the only person that doesn’t get rotated there is Suso. The right-winger has been amazing so far this season with his contribution, scoring a total of seven goals and setting up nine assists along with countless chance creations. The 24-year-old Spaniard is the jewel of the team.
Where will they end up this season?
I’m predicting a 6th-8th placed finish for Gattuso and his men this season.
They are currently in positive form lately as they haven’t lost in their last 3 matches, but they would have to improve and keep playing their football consistently if they want to end the campaign with a strong finish.
Whether Gennaro Gattuso can be the man to lead this revival is a different matter but AC Milan certainly have the players at their disposal, the tough-tackling ex-midielder must figure out how best to utilise them though.