AC Milan 0-1 Torino (AET): Five things we learned – summer window scrutiny and disappointing depth

By Ivan Stoev -

After the embarrassing collapse against Roma at the weekend in which AC Milan dominated for 85 minutes but then conceded twice to throw away a win, the chance to respond came a few nights later in the Coppa Italia against Torino.

Stefano Pioli rested a lot of his starters which meant the likes of De Ketelaere, Dest, Pobega, Vranckx and Gabbia all had the chance to start the game. Unfortunately for Pioli, they were all subpar and offered nothing to help their team win the game.

The game ended a goalless draw even after Milan were a man up for 20 minutes after Djidji earned himself a red card, but  Milinkovic-Savic kept everything out that was thrown at his goal while there was also some wasteful finishing.

Torino hit Milan on the counter in the second period of extra time as the home side pushed for a winner, and Milan were unable to respond in the remaining time as the Granata went through. Here are five things we learned from the game…

1. De Ketelaere remains an enigma

The Belgian got his start and this was supposed to be the game in which he took on a bit more responsibility, but he ultimately failed to deliver. There is the argument that the players who started around him were ultimately not from the starting XI so he had less quality service, but eventually most of those players were subbed on and yet De Ketelaere drifted in and out of the game.

It’s a big issue for Pioli and we’ve seen similar first seasons for the likes of Leao and Tonali, but the youngster is really struggling to produce even a moment of genius at this stage and the result of the game won’t do any favours for his morale.

2. Summer window scrutiny

We are halfway through the season now and it’s probably fair to start judging the summer transfer window at this point in time.

We already mentioned De Ketelaere and his struggles, but he’s not alone. In terms of expectations the playmaker was the one meant to make a difference, but even his compatriot Divock Origi has managed just one goal and can’t seem to stay fit. When he has been fit he certainly hasn’t been pleasant to watch.

And then there is Dest, who started against Torino has had some good moments, but is yet to really establish himself it would seem and it’s more than obvious how much of an upgrade Calabria is.

Vranckx also started the game and he’s been fairly consistent if we are being honest, though he didn’t have the best of games and has been just recently given more playing time. As seen against Roma when he gave away a foul before the 2-2 goal, his age and experience – or lack thereof – are obvious.

We can go on about Yacine Adli and how he has barely played, but the point is that the summer transfer window did not offer any solutions whatsoever to Pioli and he is once again forced to produce wonders with the limitations around his squad.

3. Disastrous departments

Out of all the players in midfield and attack, it’s probably just Tonali that had a positive display. Dest seemed lost at left wing-back and Vranckx didn’t look much better either. Pobega and Saelemaekers were a tad better on the right, but ultimately offered very little as well.

De Ketelaere didn’t really manage to impose himself in the game and it seemed like all he does is pass the ball back right after receiving it as he didn’t look like he wants to take on the responsibility.

Brahim had his usual good moments showing of his technique, but then in the final third he was not efficient yet again. This just highlights the really sub-par depth that Pioli has to work with and despite all of these playing being young and having potential, they’re just not quite there yet.

4. Struggles persist

After seeing the difficulties in attack, Pioli subbed on Olivier Giroud in the second half, but the Frenchman yet again failed to impose himself in the game.

He tried a lot of flicks that just seemed unnecessary as they were not efficient at all., and often resulted in Milan losing possession as they looked to build pressure. His usual good link-up play was also not there and he was not able to help his team find the back of the net.

It is a bit worrying for Pioli especially since the 36-year-old has appeared to be suffering from a fog of sorts since returning from the World Cup. We’ve talked about the fatigue he might have, but as we’ve seen with De Ketelaere up front there no other options in attack at the moment, meaning he needs to get firing.

5. Little impact

Whilst we could have expected more from Giroud, it was more surprising the little impact that Leao, Theo and Bennacer had on the game.

The Algerian looked nothing like himself as he struggled to dominate the midfield which was probably expected especially since the Rossoneri were a man up and the objective was to get the ball into the final third as soon as possible.

Rafa tried to make something happen, yet he too was missing that final touch. He also insisted on going central which did not help as Torino were defending with lots of bodies in front of goal, resulting in the Portuguese winger often firing way wide while going for the spectacular.

With Theo Hernandez on and a man advantage, it was fair to expect to see Frenchman bursting forward and cause a lot of trouble, but it was not happening for him on the night.

He skied a couple of shots and didn’t really threaten going forward, which was disappointing to see given his usual exploits. He curled an effort wide on his left foot just before the referee blew for full time, which was a fitting symbol of how the game went.

Tags AC Milan Milan Torino


  1. Backup players who are not qualified is not new news. And what hurts more, boasting how important the coppa is, but then fielding players not in their original positions with formations that are rarely used on the grounds of nonsense about rotation.
    Never liked Pioli’s approach in several matches which seemed to take his opponent lightly, then lowered the team to the bare minimum while hoping for a miracle.
    At the start, Pioli managed to lift the morale of the team and get them to work together for a goal. But it looks like Pioli’s magic is starting to fade.
    Pioli is still on fire, but it doesn’t burn like it used to.

  2. The summer signings have been a disaster. They did not adequately replace Kessie, and now Maldini says they will not make any moves in the winter. We will be lucky to finish top 4, which apparently is all this management and ownership really care about. The original lineup they started was never going to score. And Pioli waited too long to switch back to the 4231 once Leao entered the game. That’s why Leao was playing centrally which doesn’t work for him. There’s just no ideas or gameplan for this team offensively. Maybe Ibra can hurry back and give this team the kick in the butt that it needs.

  3. Man, we are really grasping for straws to say anything positive about the horrendous job our management M&M did over the summer.
    How can we say that Vranckx has been fairly consistent when the man has played around 60 minutes all together this season prior to last night’s game.
    Our starting striker is 36 years old, and his backup is 41 tik tok Star. Or maybe Giroud is just the placeholder for the starter Zlatan. That’s crazy
    And then we get upset when other team fans don’t take us seriously

  4. Oh dear this constant moaning from “fans” and the media after Milan won the title last season and are hitting their targets this.

    Whether or not Milan manage to retain the title (Napoli won’t be able to keep up their record breaking form forever) or get passed Tottenham, Milan will still be way ahead of where we thought they’d be by this time.

    On the transfer market I’d say we signed too many players as usual. Instead of wasting time and money on Origi we could’ve kept Colombo – would he have been worse?

    Unfortunately it reflects the general tendency to always look at transfers and always give the benefit of doubt to expensive new signings whilst always doubting free youth players.

    Youth players have to perform at twice the level of expensive new signings to stand any chance.

    Cutrone (yes I’m going there) outscored the likes of Higuain and Silva but it was still not good enough. He was sold (for a “profit” that counts as a loss when we consider how much we waste on new signings) and we have destroyed his career by turning him into a journey man. This was a player who had scored at every level including at senior level and now look at him.

    It’s not really surprising. If you took some genius lawyer or doctor and moved him around 5 times in 5 years they’d struggle. These are supposed to be elite footballers. We treat them like cattle.

    If Cutrone was the only failure then you could put it down to the player but virtually nobody has gotten through except, ironically, Calabria who was probably the weakest out of his group with Locatelli and Cutrone. (As great as Tonali is we already had a completely free player in the form of Locatelli so we’ve wasted millions and years sorting out a position that could’ve been sorted).

    Calabria benefited from injuries (to Conti) and from playing a position that doesn’t attract too much attention. Strikers are the worst because directors feel the need to add at least one striker every window.

    For this reason I doubt Colombo has a future at Milan or probably in football. He’ll have 10 clubs by the age of 30.

    This kind of constant moaning just gives directors and agents more excuses to engage in endless transfer activity to the detriment of the players and the game. The media would be better off investigating corruption in the transfer market than spending endless timing speculating about football transfers like some kind of gossip magazines.

    1. He accuses fans of moaning but he goes on to moan about the bellow average academy products not being kept.
      The “moaning” is because the directors are making mistakes signing players.
      The other thing is, I guess Milan won the title for this decade, so we should be just satisfied with finishing in top 4. Is that what we should do @Maldinis Heir be satisfied with just top 4?
      Real Madrid fires coaches if they don’t win a trophy in each season but we should be satisfied with 1 title per decade.

    2. I hate this argument ” we are still ahead of where we thought they’d be”. Maybe where you thought they’d be. You talk as if they are some small market mid table team like Sassuolo. This is Milan. One of the biggest most popular clubs in the world.
      The squad needs to be getting stronger every year, and that is not the case. The team is worse than last year, which was actually a worse squad than the year before. They won last year because Juventus was rebuilding from Ronaldo and Inter had just lost their Manager and Lukaku. Add in a few last minute miracle finishes for Milan and you have the Scudetto. Don’t let that fool you that the team is stronger.
      They have let their best players leave for free and either not signed anyone to replace them, or signed some cheap kid who may or may not end up being good in a few years. This is not good enough for Milan.

      1. Exactly @K. How long are we going to talk about that we won the scudetto last year.
        No fanbase lives more in the past than ours.
        You see them arguing on social media with fans of the current top clubs in the world like ManCity, Chelsea or such and keep throwing 7 UCL titles even though the last time was won was over 15 years ago. In th3 meantime ManCity has dominated Premier league and Chelsea has won 2 UCLs a Europa league and few Premier league titles. While we had 1 super cup.
        Time waits for no one . Other clubs have caught up and passed us by.
        But hey, we won the title last season. That can hold us off for the rest of this decade I guess.

  5. @ Poli Below average?

    Is there something in the water in Italy that a football mad country of 60m people can’t seem to produce players?

    Or is it the constant, unrelenting need to move players around for no apparent reason that is preventing them for reaching their potential?

    According to tranfermarkt, just 20 Serie A clubs have had 655 departures and 305 arrivals this season in 1.5 transfer windows. Milan had 10 arrivals (not all new) and 20 departures and we still have a squad of 31 players!

    The only eat we’ll fix this is to limit squad sizes to 23, limit transfers to 3, limit loans to one per career for a minimum of 12 months, and limit January to 1 emergency signing only.

    That way we could actually get back to the game of football.

    1. Other countries like Germany, France, England, Spain, and Portugal seem to be doing just fine producing talents every year.
      Cutrone plays in serie B that’s how good he is, Locatelli hasn’t been able to cement a starting spot in the worst midfield in Juve’s history.
      Juventus, who were always the backbone of the Italian NT, don’t have a single Italian starting, with Chiesa out injured.
      Not even a defender, something that Italy has always been known to produce.
      There is nothing wrong with football.
      Italy needs to adjust to the new way football operates, or they will continue missing the world cups.
      If they are so crazy about football they won’t obstruct clubs for a decade from building a stadium.
      They can either adapt or continue to fall down the pecking order in the football world

  6. @ K I want Milan to be a top team but top teams don’t go out and sign endless numbers of players.

    Top teams are built around a core of players (not all supercalifragilisticexpialidocious players some just solid players who have been at the club for a while) and then they focus their efforts on one or two top, top, top players.

    That is what I want from Milan. This Milan team is an example of how the exact same team and the exact same players can lift their game and reach potential if left alone for more than 5 mins.

    @ Poli Spain have squad size limits and youth teams that play in the second tier. Germany has fewer transfers each window. English clubs – well they’re owned by oligarchs and sheiks and don’t really count as football clubs.

    As for Cutrone – he was a record scorer at every level until he suffered the same fate as Ganz, Comi, Petagna…..He did at least break into the first team and outscore Higuain, Silva, Kalinic ….but it wasn’t good enough. Had to be moved on for a “profit”. How you can criticise Locatelli after he won the Euros is beyond me…

    I have to say Maldini & Co have mostly implemented what I wanted but they still have tendency to make pointless signings. This summer I’d like us to spend whatever money we have on the best RW we can afford. That is it. Leave the rest.

    What’s the point in having a young team if we don’t let them grow old together.

    1. Great teams are trying to win trophies every year and you want our team to grow old together.
      I don;t care if the players are old or young, Italian or non Italian the only thing that matters is if they are good players that can help Milan win or not.
      Locatelli has been an absolute 40 mil bust for Juventus. He was a bench player on an Italian team that won the Euro, along with below average players like Pessina, Cristante and Florenzi.

      1. LOL. Lots of “below average players” in the best European team. Makes one wonder how much more “below average” the players in other countries must be then… 😀

        1. Ha Ha HA
          “Best european team” that can’t even qualify for the World cup for 2 cycles in a row.
          Yeah, a bunch of below average players on that team.
          Best player on that team was Gigio Donnarumma.
          How great of a team is that if your best player is your GK

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