Devil’s Advocate: The negative side of Giampaolo’s man management

By Oliver Fisher -

After two games of the Serie A season, we are seemingly no closer to seeing Marco Giampaolo’s concrete formula moving forward.

Having used the 4-3-1-2 system at both Empoli and Sampdoria and all throughout preseason, Giampaolo scrapped it after the dismal defeat at Udinese.

He told Sky Italia after the game (via Football Italia) that he is considering scrapping the 4-3-1-2, and as a result we saw a switch to the 4-3-2-1 for the game against Brescia.

The only certainties at the moment appear to be Gianluigi Donnarumma, the back four and having three central midfielders – but the latter is actually very significant.

Giampaolo is both demanding and precise in equal measure when it comes to the functionality of his midfield; something which can have a mixed effect on players.

For example, Ismael Bennacer should in theory be the perfect man to be deployed in the ‘regista’ position at the base of the trio, and the early signs from his performances in a Rossoneri shirt suggest exactly that.

The problem though lies with players like Lucas Paqueta – someone who has seemingly been typecast by Giampaolo as a mezz’ala (central midfielder) than a trequartista. recently claimed though that there are traits that the Brazilian had which Giampaolo is not fond of, such as his ‘tendency to hold onto the ball’

In addition, the head coach wants to see ‘more understanding of his position’ from Paqueta in relation to his team-mates. 

‘He has talent and an ability to take risks that sometimes makes the coach angry’, concluded.

Why should we be worried by this? Because the €35million spent by Milan in January of this year to bring Paqueta in was seen as an investment in an exciting player with heaps of creativity.

The best quality of Milan’s long line of Brazilian heritage – which includes the likes of Kaka and Ronaldinho – was their ability to win games and make things happen out of nowhere.

They acted on impulse and instinct and were encouraged to run at the defence and get Milan on the front foot. At the moment, it seems like Paqueta’s job is to do anything but that.

Obviously, Giampaolo spends time in training with players every day and can see what is best for the team as a whole.

Discipline is obviously a key part of making the team as compact and hard to beat as possible, but the worry surely has to be that he is simultaneously coaching the flair out of certain players.

There are similar argument related to Suso and Krzysztof Piatek – two equally crucial members of the squad.

The former has been messed about, quite frankly, in preseason; having been shoehorned into the No.10 role and now moved back out to a wider role.

It is important for the sake of the season that Giampaolo decides on a formation and a role for Suso and sticks with it.

Meanwhile, Piatek’s lack of goals recently should be a concern. He failed to net once in preseason and has fired a blank in the opening two Serie A games.

The change Giampaolo saw necessary was to move Piatek back to being a centre-forward so he has less support up front, and to move him back to being a ‘penalty area’ striker.

It all contributes to more change and more uncertainty. Of course, the head coach should be awarded time and patience to find the right formula, but the results must come in the mean time as well or fans may quickly turn.

READ MORE: AC Milan’s summer mercato – all the official signings

Tags AC Milan Krzysztof Piatek Lucas Paqueta Suso
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