GdS: Pioli’s time is up but blame for Milan’s collapse must be shared

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli is likely to be the one who falls on the sword after a disappointing campaign on all fronts for AC Milan, but the blame extends beyond just him.

La Gazzetta dello Sport write that Pioli has tried everything to salvage the season. He hammered on the need to grow in defensive attention, he prepared a new tactical structure for the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico, he led the pre-match huddle and he trusted his leaders.

Instead of reviving Milan, they remains flatlined like at San Siro in the first leg. Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez were still quiet, Olivier Giroud impalpable, the defence was all at sea and the team generally failed on second balls.

It  must be acknowledged that Pioli’s Milan no longer exists, not because the players are playing against him or because the coach has suddenly become totally incapable, but because there are cycles which must end.

Even if everyone continues to put Pioli in the docks, the blame for the debacle must be shared among all the components. Pioli remains one of the best Italian coaches and will be remembered as one of the best in Milan’s history.


He took the team from the rubble, in 11th place in 2019-20 when he was put in charge, and will probably leave them in second spot, after bringing a Scudetto win that was unexpected and to the semi-final of the Champions League, filling the San Siro with hope for five years.

The players who go on the pitch are much more responsible. Rafael Leao is concluding yet another season as an unfinished player, in June he will turn 25. If at San Siro he was surprised by El Shaarawy’s trap, what did he do on the return leg to get out of it?

How many matches from Theo and Leao can be this season can be truly called top performances? In the storm, there were no leaders at the helm and here the responsibilities of management come into play as well.

It is useless to count the goals of Noah Okafor, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Luka Jovic to argue that it was a good summer mercato. Instead, it was culpably incomplete: Sandro Tonali was not replaced, a midfielder of depth and personality – like Teun Koopmeiners – was needed.

A deputy to Theo and a solid alternative to Olivier Giroud were required. As expected in the summer, Paolo Maldini’s void took its toll. Pioli lacked a technical interlocutor and the players lacked a presence.

It will be up to him to Zlatan Ibrahimovic to help the rebuild. He will have to do it, first of all, by building a competent team around him, choosing the right coach and conducting a mercato that will have to fix the defects. As omnipotent as he is, Zlatan is still an apprentice to the role.

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli


  1. Yea, the players have to take responsibility. The thing is though, when one or two players don’t perform, you can blame them individually.

    Our team as a whole didn’t perform for 180mns to a weaker team on paper. That’s a systemic collapse. That’s on leadership, coach.

    They looked clueless both games: no ideas, confusion, no movement/pressing/defending as a team. Scattered and individualistic.

  2. Angry, furious fans blame Pioli for everything, and turn a blind eye to the lack of quality in the team, especially the low quality of the midfield and the silly mistakes defenders keep making. Compare the midfield of Inter with that of Milan and the difference is quite big. Even us with a much better midfield failed against Atletico and got kicked out in the Coppa Italia. The standards have gone up a lot in recent years. Pioli should go but he did well given what kind of team he has had at disposal. The second place in the Serie A and quarter finals in the UEL is not bad for a team where the best mildfielders are supposed to be Bennacer and Rijenders (with all due respect for them).

    1. An Inter merda fan telling Milans fans that we suck. The ballsyness of some people
      Have your club give back Juve their Scudetto. Scum and scam of a club

  3. We need to stop blaming the coach. They played horrible. I am not a fan of our current coach but he has done a great job with the players he has had during his tenure. This time for a change and hopefully we pick a coach that will us to new heights and those of the glory days of AC Milan…

  4. Very poorly written and sentimental article.

    2019/2020, Pioli introduced something phenomenal with Ac Milan, but once he got figured out, he became a monumental failure.
    Milan has been riding on the back of individual performances from drivers like Leao, Theo, you can name them, Pioli’s Milan has never been for tactical dominance but rather has been known for spirited performances from highly motivated players, for example Kalulu showed that if properly motivated and his spirit is right, he could easily be playing at Madrid.

    Other than motivation, I don’t see what else Pioli offers tactically anymore.

    1. Exactly. Sure, Pioli did FANTASTIC job – no one can deny that (well… some people do try…). But like you said, he has been figured out and basically everyone knows how to stop Milan. They only fail when certain individuals have an exceptionally good day. We are not a team. We rely on individual magic – which those guys cannot deliver week in, week out. Unfortunately.

      Better to rely on teamwork and tactics instead. And Pioli isn’t capable of providing those. Like it or not.

  5. Useless and biased writing i think this post sponsered by Pioli.
    Does Okafur is not etriker better than Giroud.
    Does Chekueza not the best winger
    Does Puslic not No 10.
    Does Terachiano not RB
    Does SiMiC,Pelegerino not CBs.
    Why did Pioli Lined up Giroud Regularly whlile he is nor Playing, and Why is Piioli Benched Musah, and kinrd up Kjear and Calabria and Pioli intetionally Destroyed Milan sean

  6. The huge Milan mistake of the last ten years or so was changing coaches too frequently, such as nearly every year. Now, there is one who has brought strength and personality to the team. Anyone who expected better from Milan, with half the team changed this year, needed to have a checkup of sorts.
    Milan did not need major changes: a strong centre-forward and a star midfielder. Then Milan can go forward with Piloi and Ibra. Pity no, Maldini…..

    1. Inter Milan is winning the league after signing more players than Ac Milan, let’s not use the transfer market as an alibi.

      We maintained the core of our team, our starting lineup was thesame as last season except for Pulisic on the right, RLC in the middle and one of either Reijnders or Musah to partner Bennacer or Adli in the midfield. So there were no drastic changes, only 3 players in the starting lineup.

      But, look at Inter Milan, two of their three starting defenders have never played before, yet they have the best defence in the league, Arcebi and Pavard represents an overhaul of the starting defensive line, and remember Sommer, their starting goalkeeper is also new to the league.
      Thuram also was newly signed. That’s 4 of their starting 11 newly acquired.

      So please, let’s not look for excuses.
      Our goalkeeper: Maignan (no change)
      Defense: Calabria, Tomori, Thiaw, Theo (no change)
      LW: Leao (no change)
      CF: Giroud (no change)

      Only changes were:
      Midfield: Bennacer and Reijnders; instead of
      Tonali and Krunic.
      AM: RLC instead of Diaz
      RW: Pulisic instead of Messias or Rebic.

      Generally, I think we have a better squad than last season, and we have depth too.

      1. Pioli underestimated the importance of Tonalli, went into the transfer market for players to fit a new system of play. Then, for some reason only known to him, reverted to the old system without the key players being replaced. That was a costly gamble.
        I don’t see what Ibra will do differently if he doesn’t have the authority to enforce his choice – and stand by it. Right now, the management will throw Pioli under the bus, but they will not acknowledge who made the purchases that didn’t work. Last year Maldini was the scapegoat. According to reports he wanted to fire Pioli, he got fired instead. now, the same guys who wanted Pioli in now want him out.
        Arrigo said something, which I concur with: “Therefore, it would be ungenerous to judge him for the next results if he didn’t consent and didn’t endorse the market. Otherwise, it is clear, he would have his responsibilities.
        “In the first case he wouldn’t be at fault and if I were the president, I would look at who chose those players, but if Pioli participated in the decisions and then something didn’t work, he is also to blame..” (
        Apparently, Pioli doesn’t have a clear cut philosophy or playing style. That’s why we rely on individual brilliance and not teamwork.

        For next season, the choice of coach and the direction of the transfer market will give us an indication of the intention of management for the club: “the Ajax model” or the milan tradition?

        1. Well, I wouldn’t like to comment on Maldini as it may sound like I’m ungrateful to him.

          But, failure to replace Tonali was only a sequel to the failure to replace Kessie, it is easier to replace Tonali than it is to replace Kessie. They let Kessie leave without a competent replacement and also Tonali.

          They purchased midfielders without signing a number 6. Whichever system Pioli was going to play with, he definitely needed a number 6. The only true number 6 we had left was Bakayoko, and they also let him leave. Even Pobega would have been useful in this midfield which lacks physicality.
          Imagine having Pobega or Bakayoko flanked by Bennacer and Reijnders in Pioli’s 4-3-3 formation.

      2. “I think we have a better squad than last season, and we have depth too.” – totally agree and great observation. I think this season’s failures (if they wanna call it that) was all on pioli and pioli’s tactics. Inverted fullbacks, players playing out of their position, etc. Even sacci said something about pioli trying to invent his own style and failed. Chuck, puli, okafor, reinders, jovic, musah have been great additions compared with the squad we had the previous year. Just baldy didn’t utilize them according to their characteristics. Cheek has no bussines playing up front in my opinion. His characteristics point more like dm not am, but pioli playing his disruptive-pressure up front tactic leaves a hole in the mid. Musah playing on the wing etc, those are all on pioli.

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