Stefano Pioli has been faced with numerous challenges during his two-year tenure as AC Milan boss, and he has another difficult moment to try and manage now.
La Gazzetta dello Sport writes that Pioli must open his ‘repair shop’ again and quickly with Inter at one point behind and Atalanta at four behind, while Napoli are three points ahead. Some have already begun to think about February 2021 when Milan lost back-to-back games against Spezia and Inter, surrendering top spot and falling behind in the Scudetto race.
The win in the Champions League almost certainly sapped a lot of physical and mental energy out of the team, and the number of young players in the squad is a reminder that inconsistency can happen at any time. The likes of Rafael Leao and Brahim Diaz are struggling for form while Theo Hernandez, Alessio Romagnoli and Franck Kessie have made big mistakes.
Pioli has repeated several times that the club has equipped him with a “very strong” squad, and in the name of this idea he has democratically distributed minutes, but now he has encountered a dilemma because too much turnover can jeopardise the balance on the pitch.
From Kalulu to Messias, from Tatarusanu to Krunic, from Gabbia to Florenzi, from Bakayoko to Ballo-Touré – there is a ‘second string’ at Milan who are all eager to step up when given the chance but they are not all guaranteed to succeed.
Milan and Pioli must field a better matched midfield, must rekindle Ibra and find effectiveness in the other attacking players, the defence simply has to improve and the ‘reserve’ players must be used at the right times to find rhythm. Still plenty to work on, therefore.