GdS: Pressure piles on Pioli – further slip-ups could prove fatal

By Oliver Fisher -

Stefano Pioli’s job is not at risk at the moment, but a defeat against Fiorentina would make it three home losses in a row and would significantly weaken his position, a journalist has written.

In a piece for La Gazzetta dello Sport, Sebastiano Vernazza writes that Milan cannot afford anything other than victory on Saturday evening at San Siro against Fiorentina, because it would not be acceptable for the Rossoneri to lose their third home match in a row in the league.

It is not quite at the stage of Pioli needing a positive result to save his job, but a negative one would mean the management are faced with a decision: keep faith in him or try and reverse the collapse forcefully and urgently.

The match against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday could keep the club from making an immediate decision. Milan have not won in the league since 7 October, the 1-0 at Marassi against Genoa – since then draws with Napoli and Lecce (2-2, from 2-0 up) plus defeats at home against Juve and Udinese (both 0-1).

Milan are in third place which is enough for the Champions League, the minimum objective of the season, but they are two points above fourth-placed Napoli with Atalanta and Fiorentina breathing down their necks.

Milan started strong, with a trio of results and dazzling performances in the first three days, against Bologna, Torino and Roma, medium-high level opponents swept away with ease. The 5-1 loss in the derby was a mental, physical and strategic collapse.

The team seemed to limp on in Serie A and the Champions League, and the journalist poses the question that ‘the group perhaps no longer has full faith in Pioli’. Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shadow ‘has raised an unhealthy fog, weakening the coach and his staff’.

It is a bit like what happened in Naples with the appointment of Rudi Garcia by Aurelio De Laurentiis. At Milan the matter was more nuanced, less dramatic, but everyone understood that the club doubts the coach.

The fact his contract is expiring in 2025 has so far been an excellent deterrent, however the ‘breaking point seems ever closer’ and another stop would make it looming. Pioli has been coaching Milan since October 2019, four years and a month, a long window.

He risked his job immediately, in the Covid season when Elliott Management were about to replace him with Ralf Rangnick. He was saved by Paolo Maldini – no longer here – and he won the 2022 Scudetto.

The yardstick is Inter, more successful in the same period, thanks to Antonio Conte’s league title and Simone Inzaghi’s domestic cups. However, it was the semi-finals of the last Champions League that dug a furrow.

Tags AC Milan Stefano Pioli
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