Journalist Pietro Mazzara has written an impassioned column taking a look at the current issues AC Milan face and what is on the line between now and the end of the season.
Milan have now gone six games without a win and have lost their last three on the spin against Inter, Lazio and most recently Sassuolo, which has turned the Scudetto battle into one just to stay in the top four.
The horrendous defensive record that the team have had this year – which reads seven games played and 18 goals conceded across all competitions, including 12 in the last three matches alone – means Milan are statistically the worst defence in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues in 2023.
Mazzara wrote his usual weekly column for MilanNews and was set the difficult task of trying to make sense of the latest defeat, this time conceding five goals in the process.
“It hasn’t been since the Banter Era that people have left San Siro early during a Milan match. A gesture that I will never agree with, because we all win and lose together. But the discouragement that emerged in every single Milan fan on the globe during yesterday’s havoc is absolutely understandable,” he said.
“A reaction of pride was expected, but Milan went down with what little remained of their certainties. Olivier Giroud’s goal disallowed for half shoulder being offside was the ominous sign of a lunchtime match gone wrong for everyone, which took on the contours of humiliation when the score read Milan 1-5 Sassuolo.
“We were able to resurrect a team that had just got two points in the previous eight games and was in full crisis. Evidently the fractures within Milan are much wider and have led the whole group to sink into a frightening black hole that recalls Pioli’s latest managerial blackouts with Lazio, Inter and Fiorentina.
“A mental coach friend wrote to me: ‘The absolute wrong thing is to think of changing things by continuing to do the same things over and over again’. He’s absolutely right. Pioli persevered in his principles when for over a month those who have been away from Milanello and watch the matches have objectively highlighted how certain things no longer work.
“Yesterday, for the first time and faced with irrefutable evidence, even the coach had to publicly admit his mistakes. The 4-2-3-1 with this format, i.e. without a pure box-to-box attacking midfielder, is not sustainable by the team, but we’ve been saying this for months.
“And this vertical collapse comes at the beginning of the week that will lead to Sunday evening’s derby. A game that, objectively speaking, scares me a lot because already in the Supercoppa Inter were able to penetrate the folds of a Milan exposed especially on the right side and, in general, seem to have a different energy than Tonali and his companions.
“The solutions, in terms of quality, are few and the only one that is applicable, given the return of Bennacer, is to confirm Krunic as a pendulum between the midfield and the frontline, to restore weight to the front line of pressure.
“It is useless to rant about Vranckx and Adli: they are truths built in the brains of the fans who see the panacea for all ills in those who don’t play. What appears evident, even only externally, is that the team is no longer such, at least on the pitch. Tonali sounded the alarm at the start of the season talking about attitudes to improve, maybe he was right.
“In the conversation between Furlani, Maldini and Massara at the end of the game, the situation was analyzed and, at the moment, if there should be an emergency to immediately plug on the market, it is that of the goalkeeper.
“Tatarusanu is no longer playable and if Vasquez is not considered ready (but then why did he come in January?), then it would be appropriate to try to anticipate the arrival of Sportiello. Pay the price tag to Atalanta, who have never given up on the 3-5 million request from the beginning, to get him started now.
“But faced with the facts, where every shot towards Milan’s goal can be a goal if Tata is between the posts, something needs to be done to restore a shred of confidence in the team. A trust that even the players must find again, looking at each other and understanding that certain figures, if you wear the Milan shirt, you really can’t afford.
“The Curva Sud was magnanimous in urging the players at the end of the game, but the stadium started to rumble (with good reason) for the non-show provided on the pitch. There is the derby on Sunday and burying them would have been counterproductive.
“Now the point has arrived where you have to get in the trenches and be less architects and more masons. Because missing the qualification in the Champions League could have unimaginable repercussions, at all levels.”