CorSport: Pioli takes a gamble and loses as mass rotation fails again

By Oliver Fisher -

The decision to make big changes to the starting line-up will always raise eyebrows after previous precedents, and Stefano Pioli has once again ended up in the dock for his choices.

As this morning’s edition of Corriere dello Sport (via MilanNews) recalls, an assessment of the result against Monza last night must begin by looking at Pioli’s initial choices as he chose to rotate heavily.

The coach gambled and his risk did not pay off in the slightest. All this was already very clear at the end of the first half, so much so that the Milan coach himself immediately retraced his steps.

He sent on Tijjani Reijnders in midfield in place of an immobile Yacine Adli, plus Christian Pulisic and Rafael Leao on the flanks for the very dull Samu Chukwueze and Noah Okafor.

Pioli of course made the changes with an eye on the calendar and the many close games together, but the attitude of the ‘reserves’ must also be questioned because they were waiting for their opportunity and yet none of them really took it.

Yesterday the worst on the field was Malick Thiaw, who returned to the starting line-up after more than 80 days and who only had a short stint against Rennes with the match virtually over.

It was decided to risk him from the first minute and he was also left on the pitch for 90 minutes after a period of inactivity of almost three months in total. Another gamble by Pioli, the one that turned out to be the most disastrous.

Thiaw had a negative impact on three of Monza’s four goals, the decisive ones. The penalty foul comes at the end of an action where he commits three errors in rapid succession which highlight the German’s total lack of match rhythm.

From there he went into a tunnel: he was skinned by Colpani before the second goal and he did not hold the line on the occasion of Monza’s third goal. Thiaw is guilty, yes, but perhaps he shouldn’t have been thrown into the fray in this way.


Tags AC Milan Monza Milan


  1. When Milan wins, it’s thanks to the incredible depth of the squad thanks to the magnanimous investments of last summer. When Milan loses, it’s because Pioli rotated too much with that depth. This guy will never get any credit for anything haha

      1. Not funny, I can explain: I hate Redbird and this management of clowns. To me they are harming the club that I love. This is my guilty pleasure to trash them, and to me it’s justified. In case you didn’t notice, sports media and this comments section are mostly subjective opinions. This is mine. Free speech, etc. You seem to know who I am so just don’t read me when you see my name bro. Have a nice day 🙂

    1. Why is it a surprise? This is not the first time though; the guy didn’t even get credit for the Scudetto. Many people think that it was a fluke or luck favoured him.

  2. This has been a continuous problem for Pioli’s Milan. The first season, when there was no pressure or expectations to win, Pioli used and rotated much more than the following seasons. Then the whole group also performed on a completely different level.

    It seems he doesn’t dare to rotate when there is pressure to win. He sticks with the same 11 until they run out of steam, and then mass-rotates to give them a rest in “less-important” games… always with the same result. Why not continuosly rotate and have more players involved all the time?

    If he doesn’t learn from the mistakes it is a sign of either stupidity or stubborness.. He will soon be gone, and to be honest I think it is time for a change.

  3. Truth be told I’d forgotten about Pioli’s previous rotation gambles – if I’d remembered them I wouldn’t have been so blasé about last night. And is anyone else getting worried about Maignan? I lived through 10 years of Dida and still wake up screaming some nights over his howlers.

    1. This season shows that he also have flaw(s). I still remember the safe and confidence feeling everytime he’s on our goalpost, but now that feeling slowly fades away. And if he still playing long game on his contractual issue, well, there’s no reason to keep him any longer.

      1. Sure, he could at least TRY to save a penalty for a change… Even a blind man could have seen Pessina was aiming for the right corner, yet MM16 decided to jump to the wrong corner.

  4. It’s hard to imagine why Pioli thought this was going to work after so many failings last season.

    But it seems he, like just about everyone in the universe, was convinced that the issue last season was the lack of DEPTH.

    It wasn’t that players like CDK and Saelemaekers who now play for teams just below us struggled to play in entirely new teams that were thrown together overnight, it was they lacked QUALITY.

    The QUALITY obsession is at the heart of all of the problems in modern football and the number one thing holding back Milan from returning to the top.

    Because it both leads to the constant disruption that occurs every summer, and the lack of patience with new signings and youth players, and at the same time it consistently causes Milan to underestimate opponents – we believe we’re better than the opponents by virtue of being Milan.

    How many times have Milan lost to relegation threatened sides in the past 15 years since we’ve fallen from grace?

    And this absolute myth that the Great Milan sides were chock-a-block with supercalifragilisticexpialidocious players – forged in stars.

    The secret to the great Milan side – the secret to all great sides including great sides today, is consistency and longevity AND treating every game as a must win.

    The great sides are almost robotic in the way they play at the same level week in/week out.

    And that is very difficult to recreate. Napoli did it last season, a change of manager, and then suddenly it all goes to pot.

    This is mostly the same Napoli squad. The same QUALITY. And now suddenly…..not the same QUALITY.

    Even during the glory days of the 90s there were periods of ups and downs. Great sides one minute turned into not so great sides the next.

    In 1994 Milan added Gullit to the squad that had won the Scudetto and the Champions League and they finished 4th (and they made it to the final of the Champions League (with Massaro and Simone upfront!).

    There is finest of margins between success and failure, between the top team in Serie A and the bottom, between winning and losing.

    It’s hard to fathom how a manager of a football team could not understand this.

    1. “The secret to the great Milan side – the secret to all great sides including great sides today, is consistency and longevity AND treating every game as a must win.”

      This. Every game is a game worth 3 points and full focus should be on getting the 3 points.

      1. To play the devil’s advocate a little bit, sometimes, when you play 3 times a week, you have to think of the least important game in which you can rotate.
        And frankly I’d rather conceide 4 goals to Monza which doesn’t change our position anyways, rather than risking whatever Pioli does again Rennes in France where losing like yesterday can be catastrophic.

    2. That is not a myth.
      THE DIFFERENT GREAT MILAN TEAMS WERE FORGED IN STARS. IT’S fact. Longevity and working together was an added factor.

      TALENT, and developing said TALENT does play roles in making a great team.
      Agree or not you can’t make something out of half baked dough. Stop underselling the greats like they were not gods in their own right.

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