‘A more balanced team’ – Fonseca faces big challenge to fix Milan’s leaky defence

By Oliver Fisher -

One of the big challenges that Paulo Fonseca faces as the new AC Milan head coach is fixing a defence that was very leaky last season, to put it politely.

There is a lot of pressure and expectation on Fonseca to lead a new era at Milan and he arrives amid a mixed reaction given some fans wanted a more high-profile name. While waiting for the new season, you could check out a casino.

The numbers

Milan conceded 49 goals in the league last season and 69 goals across all competitions, which has led to a rather predictable inquest into the defensive department.

Injuries certainly didn’t help with the likes of Pierre Kalulu, Malick Thiaw and Fikayo Tomori all spending long spells on the sidelines, but time after time Stefano Pioli’s side appeared wide open in transition.

The data shows that it is usually the team with the best defensive record that wins the Serie A title, as was seen in 2021-22 when the Rossoneri conceded just 38 goals in 38 games.

The season before that Antonio Conte’s Inter let in 35 goals, then in 2022-23 Napoli conceded only 28 times and last season Inter only picked the ball out of their net 22 times.

Fonseca’s words

Fonseca was officially presented to fans and journalists at Casa Milan on Monday morning, and as well as speaking about what he wants to bring as the new head coach of Milan he was asked about the need to let in less goals.

“I studied the team and I don’t want to make comparisons with the past. I have to look at what I have to learn. One of the things we have to improve to win is to be a more balanced team. I studied the defensive issue, we have to improve. This is related to the way we defend.

“What I can say is that we want a more aggressive team that defends further from our goal. I will work to improve this phase. We have good defenders and I don’t think it’s an individual problem, we have to improve collectively. The priority is a striker at the moment.”

He was also asked about how he plans to use the full-backs, given the sheer number of reports claiming that he wants a right and left-back who push up and contribute in attack.

“Theo is a very important player for us. I think I play with different structures. I have to understand the characteristics of the players we have. If there is a very strong Theo offensively, on the right I can’t have someone like him.

“Maybe we can play with a more defensive full-back or with a more attacking one, it depends on the strategy for each match. We have solutions for the different structures we want, it’s positive.”

Tags AC Milan Paulo Fonseca

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