GdS: Arguments for and against Milan’s crisis being mostly Pioli’s fault

By Oliver Fisher -

The most criticised man since AC Milan’s downturn began has been Stefano Pioli, and while he is to blame for several things there are other reasons for the collapse too.

La Gazzetta dello Sport have published an article which pits the two arguments against each other, namely the factors that Pioli is responsible for versus the things that are outside of his control.

His Milan built a reputation based around intensity in their style of play, and that strength became a weakness. Milan are in pieces today due to injuries – which have been a constant since the beginning of the season – and athletic condition.

In the Dubai training retreat, more than one thing went wrong and questions arose about the series of muscle injuries and whether it is right to call them a coincidence any more given how long it has been going on.

There are rightly questions asked such as whether it was right to have Theo and Giroud play on January 4th shortly after coming back from the World Cup, and whether the new signings like Thiaw and Vranckx could give a boost.

Then there is the squad management. Milan have 30 players but a huge gap between the 5-6 best (Theo, Leao, Maignan, Tonali, Bennacer) and the second/third tier. Pioli has made rotations due to injuries or choice, and hasn’t been able to motivate the team for a month.

Rafael Leao started the games against Sassuolo and Inter on the bench, and then there is criticism aimed at Pioli for the failure to integrate new signings such as Charles De Ketelaere, Thiaw and Vranckx.

However, the same source notes that even though the head coach has undoubtedly made his mistakes, he’s not the only one and he actually has quite a lot of alibis starting with the 2022 summer transfer window.

Milan closed the summer mercato with a net spend of €40m while the balance of Napoli – who are 18 points higher at the moment – was an €11m profit.

Seven players arrived at Milanello, two of which are on loan, while Maldini and Massara decided to invest almost all of the budget on De Ketelaere (€32m plus €3m bonuses) who is on the bench today also because he never blossomed.

Then there is Divock Origi who was a Giroud-style bet that has not paid off so far, and the most significant risk was that a worthy replacement for Franck Kessie was not found either, with Pobega and Vranckx failing to convince.

The idea of the squad having had their hunger vanish must be talked about, because from Tomori, Theo Hernandez and Calabria, from Kalulu, Tonali to arguable Leao as well, the general decline is sensational.

The World Cup in Qatar was a factor that brought unknowns, though now we know Theo and Giroud came back exhausted having reached the final with France, who lost in the final to Argentina. Meanwhile, Lautaro has 7 goals in 2023, 2 of which against Milan in the Supercoppa and in the league. Giroud has one.

Finally, Pioli had to manage the follow-up season to the Scudetto win without two fundamental leaders in Maignan and Ibrahimovic. The impact of the goalkeeper is fundamental because of how he influences the system, makes match-winning saves and distributes, but he is also a leader while Tatarusanu is limited.

Then, there is only one Zlatan and his presence can make the difference even just in the dressing room or on the bench. A year ago, he scored 8 goals – more than Leao and Giroud – and this season has not played a game.

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. Squad depth Is very poor, and team in general dropped in terms of statistics.
    They Had much more games until end 2022. So the squad needed depth. Maldini was wrong not bringing Enzo, and Pioli did bad decision not using more Vranckx, Pobega, Thiaw and De Keteleare no matter of result, like Spalletti in Napoli. So the pressure on our best players was to high and they fell part.
    The biggest Ac problem in near future is Elliott and RedBird handling club. They might have knowledge to gain some money, but they can’t handle club in sportive and winning way.

  2. Anyone else noticed that our run of bad form started when Theo and Giroud came back from the WC without their blond highlights?…. surely significant.

  3. The blame is on owner and management but don’t forget to mention Pioli because Milan lost points because of him until we cannot even register a single shot on target.
    1. Our last season first eleven are there apart from Kessie but we can not even dominate Empoli, Monza,….. we are becoming a mid table team like during Montela, Seederof, Inzaghi errors.

    2. We are tactically poor compared to other teams that are fighting for top 4.

    3. To be honest football is about consistency but Pioli has never been consistent in his entire career until he won scudeto maybe by chance. His weakness is exposed everywhere

    1. You forgot about the players. They’re to blame too. Poor attitude and weak performances.

      The medical team is to blame too. Too many injuries and MM16’s recovery has been going poorly.

  4. Blame is equal, Pioli and Management. No good summer signings, all children with “potential”. No good January reinforcements. Letting big players go for free rather than re-signing or trying to sell, Calha, Kessie, Donna, Alessio. Pioli to blame as he’s never been good, tactically not a good coach, always gets outclassed by better smarter coaches, doesn’t manage youth well, doesn’t put players in the best positions to benefit their skillset, keeps jamming a 4231 for when it doesn’t fit us and then makes a drastic change to a formation we haven’t tried v our biggest rivals rather than easing the team into it and even selects bad players for it (i.e. – Messias)… Prior to Ibra, Pioli wasn’t good, once Ibra was less present here recently, Pioli hasn’t been good again so was he ever really good or just average and a coach people liked as a person?… both are to blame… heavily.

  5. nobody is to blame.. After good games comes, always, a fall in form. Milan just had a more steep fall that was anticipated.
    Last season was so above, what this collective can do and it set false belives that they can do that again and again and again. Now reality hit, they cant. The second reality is that Milan does not have enoug finanes to buy players that the club needs.
    No crying elliot or redbird doesnt give money… grow up a bit and realise this is italy, nobody has money to buy here.. Milan doesn spend a lot in return the books are green. Inter, juve, roma spend a lot in return their books are red. Not sure where napoli stands (green or red), but theyre doing now what milan was doing last year..At least they know when to sell someone and replace them after

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