GdS: Milan’s crisis began last summer – a full and detailed breakdown of events

By Oliver Fisher -

It took Stefano Pioli three years to build the AC Milan side that won the Scudetto but seven games were enough for it to collapse, a report claims, after a series of events that started from the summer.

This morning’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (as seen below) writes how the structural failure actually starts last summer with a transfer market that fell in the middle of the change of ownership.

RedBird Capital officially completed their takeover on August 31, the last day of the summer mercato, which means that the entire window was managed by Elliott Management who of course were outgoing and thus were never likely to make a huge budget available.

The renewals of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara arrived on the day of the deadline of their previous contract, which wasted some time in the transfer market too, and then some of the questions from the directors were questionable.

A high-level centre-back was needed because Simon Kjaer is no longer young and was recovering from an injury that needed surgery and kept him out for 270 days out, while relying on Pierre Kalulu and Fikayo Tomori to keep up the same level of performance from the Scudetto season was perhaps unfair. That is why Sven Botman was targeted, but in the end he chose to accept the riches of Newcastle United.

A replacement was also needed for Franck Kessie who played a huge role in the league title win, with Renato Sanches and Enzo Fernandez targeted but again neither arrived. Instead it was Malick Thiaw and Aster Vranckx who came from the Bundesliga, though not as established players and needing time to integrate.

It is in attack that Maldini and Massara chose to allocate most of the budget, with €35m spent on Charles De Ketelaere who was and is considered an undoubted talent. Then, Divock Origi – Liverpool’s reserve – came to assist a 36-year-old Olivier Giroud and a 41-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic who is still not back to this day. Pioli needed much more help.

One hundred days after the Scudetto triumph at the Mapei Stadium thanks to an utterly dominant 3-0 win over Sassuolo, Milan returned to the same stadium and were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw with a confused performance that made it clear Pioli may struggle to maintain the hunger and ferocity of last season.

The defeat against Torino and the 0-0 draw in Cremonese also provoked warning signs, but there were results such as the derby win against Inter thanks to Giroud and Leao, the dominant 2-0 victory over Juve and the 4-1 against Monza that helped reach the World Cup break in second position, behind a Napoli side on record-breaking pace.

The squad then jetted off to Dubai and it is there things seemed to really unravel. Perhaps 10 days were too long, with the time zones, the long journeys even to reach the training facilities, and the friendlies against Arsenal and Liverpool – who were more ready due to their earlier return to action – that damaged confidence.

In the month of December, Milan also received the news that Mike Maignan would be out for several more weeks with his calf not healing well, all while the World Cup limited the squad available for training and sapped played like Theo Hernandez, Giroud and Leao of their energy.

Milan always seem to be fighting against the tide when it comes to renewals after the Donnarumma exit, captain Romagnoli leaving for another Serie A club, Calhanoglu crossing the city rivalry and the Kessie saga, and now the Leao shadow hangs over the management.

The paper asks: ‘What is Milan without Theo’s run, Giroud’s goals and Leao’s happiness? What does it become without the athletic condition to support the aggressive and intense game that has yielded a miraculous Scudetto?’

Competitive action then resumed in the new year with a 2-1 win against Salernitana that should have been a bigger margin and a 2-2 draw against Roma where the game was mostly in hand but featured a capitulation inside the final few minutes.

Then things really fell apart: five defeats in the last six games, 16 goals conceded, defeated in the Supercoppa, eliminated in the Coppa Italia and now in sixth place. Pioli tried to keep on top of things by sticking to the system and brand he knew, but it did not work.

Once it became clear the same approach that won the Scudetto was unable to protect a defence in disarray, he switched to a 3-5-2 to try be more compact, aiming to hit Inter on the break while counting on the Nerazzurri’s tiredness from the Coppa Italia.

It is a collapse that has been gradually occurring over months and has accelerated in the last four weeks, but now the whole Milan environment must rally around the coach and the team, or that top four goal could become a mirage in the distance.

Tags AC Milan


  1. Well yes… non investment = losing positions.
    Elliott is still on the rudder of ship call Milan. I thing RedBird owner only once was at the match.
    Milan will be similar to Atalanta, profitable club without big result, and that’s how RedBird is gonna pay loan to Elliott.
    These are not god news for the fans.
    But we don’t need stories about how much americans going to lose if Milan don’t qualify.
    We want news about plays and players.

  2. So exactly what I said. Its been happening for a long time, people were just too busy celebrating Scudetto and missed the team falling apart in front of their eyes. Oh well…

    1. Most people expected that new owners might spend another 50M that could get us a proper RW and maybe a bit more ready midfielder backup but yeah…If you ask me the team is missing a CF even more, if you have a 9-10 goal player as your first team starter, you have to be super lucky or have Leao in top form to win the title. People flame Leao a lot, but he practically won the title alone last year. Without him Milan wouldn’t be in CL this year.

      1. He says Leao won us the title practically by himself last season, then he turns around to criticize Giroud because he ONLY scored 11 goals at age 36. Guess how many goals scored the player that you say practically won us the title by himself? 11, too. Even though he attempted 2x more shots than Giroud .
        Milan won last year because they played as a team, not because Leao won us the title by himself.
        Leao had 21 g/a output last season in 34 games and supposedly won us the title by himself.
        Just for comparison.
        So far this season in 17 games Osimhen has 19 g/a,
        Kvara in his first season in serie A has 17g/a in 17 games.

        1. So the CF is to blame here? So it’s always the CF’s fault? Since Ibra left a decade ago how many CF’s have tried to succeed in Milan? 10-20? There was Torres, Higuain (the one who had scored the record for most goals during one season just a few years ago) etc.

          So it’s always the CF’s fault no matter who has tried? It has been so bloody obvious ever since Pirlo left that Milan is lacking creativity in the midfield. There is no one to create chances. Even if we had Haaland as CF we wouldn’t be on top of the table has the service is seriously lacking.

          “People flame Leao a lot, but he practically won the title alone last year. ”
          LOL!!!!! Leao is still playing yet Milan are struggling. What has he done this year? It’s MM16 who was the real MVP. Ever since he got injured it has been a nightmare.

  3. Once again, the myth of Giroud is just incredible. He scored 11 goals in the whole season last year. 11 goals for a striker. 11. Eleven. And 2 were penalties, so 9 goals in the whole season. You can find a wooden pole that will do the same, just redirect crosses. He needs to be shipped out anywhere next year and they need to buy a striker to be a serious team. Since Milan is a cheap club now, Beto from Udinese still looks buyable in terms of price. Scores more or the same number of goals as Giroud, but at Udinese. Doesn’t waste a bunch of chances every game. Anyone.

    1. Uh, oh! Now you’ve done it.

      We don’t badmouth Giro here. Even though he was a benchwarmer in PL for years, and was brought in to be a benchwarmer for Ibra in Milan, and even if his performance is way below mediocre at best, he is still considered a second coming and the greatest that ever lived.

      1. I’m sure that Colombo would score 9 goals + 2 penalties. It would be better if we had him, at least he is a talent and can grow as a player.

  4. Our problems didn’t start last summer. It has been going on for many many years. Biggest problem has been the striker position. We haven’t had good strikers until Zlatan came in. And when he was injured we had to rely on Giroud. And just lok att how we won games and points last spring. Many 0-0 games and 1-0 wins. We need to find better strikers and have more depth in the squad. Just look at Inter. They have 3-4 good strikers depending on how you look at is. And one is world class in Lautaro. To have a player like him is a luxury. He not only scores goals but opens up spece for others with good runs and has a solid passing game. I have no idea who we could afford who vould come close to that capability. Probably we need to rely on either our primavera guys or buying players like Lazetic and hope they develop into world class players.

    1. They have Lukaku, Lautaro, Džeko and Correa. All of them would be starters at Milan. Literally every one of them is better than Giroud…

  5. Milan punched above its weight to lift the Scudetto last season. Without summer reinforcements this charge wouldn’t ever hold up. Sure Pioli hasn’t yet been able to stop the bleeding effectively. With a poor lineup we only conceded one in the derby – still a loss. But what does he have to pick from on the bench? Management failed to bring him reliable depth players. Vranckx? Origi? Dest? The mystery of Adli and Thiaw? Inter brought in Gosens and Brozo off the bench. Their depth is solid. Ours is just non existent.

    Plain and simple – we just don’t have the depth to compete. Pioli might not be able to steady the ship this time around, but it wouldn’t be entirely his fault.

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