AC Milan seem to be in free fall at the moment as they suffered a 5-2 defeat against Sassuolo at San Siro this afternoon to continue the horrendous start to 2023.
Calciomercato.com have published a piece which takes aim at head coach Stefano Pioli for his role in the current crisis, starting with a look at the athletic condition of the team which at its lowest in the last two years.
The many muscle problems sustained by the squad – with Tomori and Dest the latest to miss a game – deserve some introspection. The decision at the beginning of the year to turn to the Serbian guru Andreja Milutinovic – the personal trainer of Juventus forward Dusan Vlahovic – has so far seen no changes.
Milan are out of shape and the World Cup mid-season didn’t help, and a certain number of players have been working overtime, but there is of course a tactical element to such a bad run of form after the 18 goals conceded in the last seven games.
The 4-2-3-1 seems predictable now and no longer seems to offer the right security in the non-possession phase, but Pioli will not change and insert an extra midfielder to make a 4-3-3 and give coverage to the rearguard that needs help.
Milan’s summer transfer window didn’t offer any big signings except Charles De Ketelaere, but Pioli has done very little or nothing to try to insert and enhance the new players who arrived. The exclusion of Malick Thiaw is a mystery given the defensive issues, while Aster Vranckx and Yacine Adli are also not seeing the field.
However, it is the situation surrounding the Belgian that generates the most confusion. He cost over €30m and is already being talked about as a flop. He seems to be struggling to adapt but he is not being helped by Pioli’s use of him, as he throws him on in the second half often in complicated situations such as the last half hour against Lazio and Inter at 3-0 down.
The most recent questionable move was the one concerning Leao, who was surprisingly excluded from the starting eleven against Sassuolo with a simple reason: “He has lost his brilliance.” He came on at half-time with the team 3-1 down and was asked to try and drag the team out of a hole, yet could not be entrusted from the start.