AC Milan were dumped out of the cup by Inter last night as they lost 3-0 at San Siro, showing there is still an awful lot of work for the management to do.
As our colleagues at SempreMilan.it write, Milan’s season has been above expectations and Stefano Pioli has done a masterful job of fixing the defence and building a tactical idea. The Rossoneri concede few goals, they are still at the top of the table and in the Champions League they did what they could.
Despite the scoreline, Inter’s passage to the final is not a bad reflection for the team or for the coach because not many fans would have imagined Milan to be in a title challenge with five games to go, because the squad on paper is not up to par with the big European teams and is inferior to Inter.
However, it is not even the fault of Paolo Maldini and Ricky Massara who have tried to make a competitive team with limited resources. It seems harsh to blame Junior Messias who until a few months ago was with Crotone and gave us moments like the Atletico Madrid winger, but he is not going to be a difference maker for a serious side.
The choice not to replace Hakan Calhanoglu is costly too, because keeping Brahim Diaz and hoping that Rade Krunic, Daniel Maldini or a solution found by Pioli (like Kessie) could solve the problem was naive. The fact remains that Elliott did not make the resources available for the attacking midfielder, aside from Yacine Adli who is on loan at Bordeaux for the season so a few million could be trimmed off his price.
The Turk went to Inter and his back-up (Brahim) was promoted without an alternative on the bench. On balance in that area of the pitch the Rossoneri have both a qualitative and a quantitative gap, without a real reserve.
Maldini and Massara convinced Olivier Giroud to join Milan but few resources were made available. Instead just a few million were spared the loan of Pietro Pellegri which was ended early and then the permanent signing of Marko Lazetic.
While Milan had known age problems in the department with Giroud and Ibrahimovic heading into January, they stayed still while Juventus snatched Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina and Inter got Robin Gosens from Atalanta.
Gosens and Dzeko came on in the second half of last night’s derby with the score at 2-0, while Pioli had to deal with yet another absence from a 40-year-old Ibra and bring the following: Messias, Krunic, Diaz, Lazetic.
Pioli is doing everything possible to get the best out of what he has been given but the gap in squads is there to see and for the first time this season (after two draws and a win in February) it was there to see on the field. If the Scudetto were to arrive, it would be almost a miracle.
There are of course accounts to look at and a budget to be respected, yet football business shows us that the indebted Barcelona, Juventus, Inter and others continue to spend money.
The Blaugrana got Ferran Torres in January along with Adama Traoré and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Inter, after the sale of Lukaku and Hakimi, reinvested in Denzel Dumfries plus Edin Dzeko, Joaquin Correa and the latest coup Gosens at the request of Inzaghi in January.
Juventus unleashed a big hit with Vlahovic and while the Nerazzurri dream of Lukaku’s return, Milan are looking at a free transfer like Divock Origi who has not been a regular starter for years.