Salernitana 2-2 AC Milan: Five things we learned – enthusiasm fades quickly

By Ivan Stoev -

Following a big 3-0 win against Monza, AC Milan were looking to clinch another win against the bottom side Salernitana. However, it ended in a frustrating draw for the Rossoneri and the star defender Fikayo Tomori also sustained an injury. 

Tomori opened the scoring after 17 minutes with a nice header, showing off good reflexes, and Milan continued to create chances after that. However, instead of a second goal, Salernitana found an equaliser through Federico Fazio.

In the second half, Salernitana grew in confidence and managed to take the lead through Antonio Candreva. It was a big howler by Mike Maignan and the Rossoneri had to be rescued by Luka Jovic, who scored the equaliser in the 90th minute.

Let’s dive into five things we learned from the game.

1. Defensive disaster 

Heading into the clash, Salernitana averaged a little more than 0.50 goals per game and with that in mind, it’s certainly worrying for Milan to have conceded twice.

Now, we can go into debates about whether the first goal should have stood and the many injuries in the defensive department, but the reality is that you defend as a team and it’s not just the backline that needs to work hard.

Salernitana were given more space than they should have and on the second goal, a long-range expert player like Candreva was given time to shoot. Of course, Maignan also should have done a lot better on that one.

The goalkeeper made several saves before and after that goal because the players in front of him failed to close the gaps. Unfortunately, this is just a common theme at this point, with similar goals conceded in various other games this season.

2. Former Chelsea duo disappoints

Christian Pulisic and Ruben Loftus-Cheek both had an underwhelming night against a side that shouldn’t have troubled them that much.

The Englishman was sluggish throughout the game and offered little going forward. The one time he did find himself in a very good position in the opponent’s penalty box, he wasn’t clinical enough. In short, a really poor display from him and he was partially to blame for the first goal too.

Pulisic was also subpar against a side you’d expect him to shine a bit more, especially given that Salernitana’s left side was in theory the weaker one. The American failed to produce anything on the flank and it’s interesting to see him go from a brilliant game to an underwhelming one.

This brings up the question if he is more useful through the middle rather than down the flank as he lacks the speed that Leao and Chukwueze have and a lot of the wonderful plays the American has been involved in this season have been down the middle.

3. Underwhelming by Leao

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Rafael Leao, who was expected to be the leading man for Milan after the hefty contract renewal before the summer. However, his season has been plagued with ups and downs and a couple of small injuries that have kept him from being fully fit.

Despite these setbacks, the Portuguese winger has indeed done a lot this season to help his team and the expectations were that he could lead the way against Salernitana too. Unfortunately, he was a shadow of himself as he failed to threaten the opposition that much.

The even more worrying sign was the lack of desire and urgency after his team fell behind, as he didn’t look like he wanted the responsibility which is more concerning than the defeat itself.

You would have expected a player like Leao to terrorise the defence which had conceded at least 2 goals per game on average. Instead, we saw a couple of glimpses of his talent and then just wastefulness.

4. Jovic proving a point

The Serbian is gaining momentum with three goals in his last three league appearances, scoring the equaliser against Salernitana after coming off the bench. Despite this recent positive form, the feeling is that Pioli hasn’t given him a proper chance.

At the same time, although Giroud has two assists in the last two games, he has been rather disappointing in his goalscoring duties. The link-up play simply didn’t work yesterday and Pioli should probably give him more rest, giving the hungry Jovic more chances.

Not starting an in-form striker, after all, could backfire for Pioli who is already on his last life ahead of the Sassuolo clash next week. The question is if he will have the guts to start Jovic ahead of the experienced No.9.

5. End of the road?

Pioli has made several questionable decisions this season and we are not even at the halfway mark yet. He does have a lot of excuses, such as the injuries, but we need to look beyond this and also understand that he is partly to blame.

Milan are a predictable side and they appear clueless most of the time, with no proper gameplan while in possession. Tactics and discipline are just not there, and it doesn’t look like Pioli changes much based on the opponents.

Furthermore, there seems to be a mentality issue and this was highlighted against Salerninata, as we just didn’t see a great desire from Milan to turn the result around after conceding the second goal. Injuries are one thing, but the players on the pitch should be hungry for the win and Pioli should act as fuel in that sense, but he doesn’t.

As we said, the game against Sassuolo might just be a do-or-die moment for Pioli. If it ends up being the latter, the question will then be: who will replace him?

Tags AC Milan Salernitana Serie A Stefano Pioli


  1. “As we said, the game against Sassuolo might just be a do-or-die moment for Pioli.”

    Aight, the jynx has been said. We’ll win against Sassuolo.

      1. Right on. I have been criticial of the team even when we won because performance wasn’t there. Anyways, finding a proper care taker mid season might be a problem since we aim for CHEAP & GOOD. Baldy should have left before the season, and M&M stay for another season. Smooth transition. But the bankers and crap bird jumped the gun. Arabs are knocking.

      2. A win would just postpone the inevitable. Better too soon than too late. The sacking I mean. It’s coming so let’s it over with and focus on saving the season. And the whole future of the club.

  2. 1. Set pieces continue to be a problem that Pioli can’t coach out of the team.

    2. Players need to be held accountable when they don’t perform, instead they are starting game in and game out.

    3. Jovic has scored in each of his last three games. What else does he have to do to get a nod ahead of a 37yo?

    4. Pioli has this team looking confused and void of ideas upfront. Theo inverting inside nullifies his strengths. 4-5 in the middle nullifies Leao’s usefulness. 4-2-4 as we often end up playing leaves us exposed to counters and offensive minded midfielders having to hurry back and suck at defending (see RLC on the first Salernitana goal)

    5. Pioli’s time might be up and because of the uncertainty, the players probably aren’t buying into him anymore? Which is odd because just last game against Monza, the team looked good…

    1. Disagree on the Monza game. Our attack looked good. Our midfield had holes everywhere which caused needed intervention from our D. I do agree with your other points.

  3. – Allegri and Juventus start an 18 year old over Vlahovic who cost them 75 mil and get 7.5 mil salary a year but Pioli is playing Giroud 95 minutes every 3 days instead of playing in form Jovic.
    Pioli starts young players only after the starters have been thru surgery.
    If you don’t have the balls to play the young players when you CAN , a time will come where you MUST play them.
    Now Simic is the starter by default, but until last week Pioli wouldn’t play him a second.

    – Leao has done a lot?
    Hasn’t scored a goal since September. We are a week away from January. Last season he was MIA from January till April.
    He has 3 goals and 4 assists.
    Less goals than 37 years old Giroud and Pulisic, and same amount of goals as Jovic and Okafor who are bench players playing 10-15 minutes every other game. He also has the same amount of goals as Tomori who is a defender, just like Gatti from Juventus.
    You can blame the management, you can sh!t on the new players, but if your so called best player and self proclaimed leader is putting up this kind of numbers and even worse performances, you are looking at the wrong place.
    Milan worst players on the pitch yesterday were Leao, Theo, Maignan and Giroud. And when it comes to Leao and Theo that’s been a regular occurrence , not a one-off.
    Billy Costacurta said: Leao is not a champion.
    Sacchi: Leao is holding Milan back.
    Leao super fans attacked those truth tellers.
    Maldini words were the most telling when he said recently that Leao asked him during last the season if he can release his rap album. That where his priorities are.
    He can be a contributor on a team but doesn’t have the quality, the work ethic nor mentality to be the best player on a team,let alone a leader.
    Being the most talented player on the team doesn’t make you the best player.
    People ask for Conte. If Conte is hired, either Leao will be the 1st player to be sold like icardi at inter or Conte will break Leao so bad physically and mentally that he will quit football and become a full time rapper.

    – Sassuolo was the end for that other Fraud Allegri, let’s see if they are going to be the end for Pioli. Last time Milan won at home vs Sassuolo was in 2019.
    Last 4 games vs Sassuolo at San Siro: 3 losses, 1 draw. 4 g scored, 10 conceded.
    Allegri overstayed his welcome for extra year and a half, Pioli so far has overstayed his welcome for a whole year.

    1. Allegri?

      The manager we sacked, and replaced with Seedorf?

      No doubt you’ve been calling for Allegri to be sacked back then.

      I was. A decision I’ve since come to regret as it cost 8 years.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      Also who sacks a manager when they’re 3rd???

  4. “IKWYDLS 21 December 2023, 20:31 at 8:31 pm
    Salertinana is at the bottom of the table and let in the most goals. it’s obvious we’re going to draw lol 🤣”

    I did that prediction a bit facetiously but at the same time with some underlying truth to it.
    I understand people’s frustrations but even After all of this… we’re still third 🤷‍♂️ meaning we have the third best coach on points. Many other so called good coaches are having a hard time this year. I’m not sure what sacking will do at this stage. But this is more a failure on management than on the coach. This is a poorly managed situation and it started in June and culminated into what we have now.

      1. I dunno for some strange reason I thought it would happen (the draw). U get those “feelings” from time to time.

        If u think that’s funny, I’ll try to dig up my post on the season predictions 😂

        On a more serious note, not even sure where I am with what’s happening rn. There are many other big teams that have had way worse patches this season. But it seems anything other than a win is hugely magnified. And as a result this is why the shirt is heavy. The amount of pressure on these guys is incredible. A small mistake nowadays is magnified, and players move from world class to decent in a blink of an eye.

        1. On one old article, I predicted us to win our 20th Scudetto, top 4 UCL and Coppa Italia runner ups just losing out to Inter. I don’t know what I was thinking when I said that.
          I agree with you there, our expectation has been extremely high since winning the Scudetto. I still remember how I used to pray for a draw when we faced the top 6 before Gatusso joined. In one month, we went from comparing RLC with Gullit to him becoming our worst player on the field.

        2. I mean anybody who has watched Milan in the past 20 years shouldn’t really have been surprised.

          Do you remember when we became the first to drop points to Benevento?

          It’s not hard to work out why this happens.

          These so called weaker teams have quality players. Fazio and Candreva have both played at the top level. Again there is not this great divide between players.

          These so called weaker teams with top quality players play without any pressure whatsoever.

          At the same time when these so called weaker teams play against teams like Milan they raise their game because it’s their moment to shine.

          So basically it they lose nobody criticises them and if they draw or win they’re gods – a manager doesn’t need to motivate them.

          Meanwhile Milan are playing with a combination of pressure AND lack of motivation.

          Of course none of this is helped by the mythology around these different level of players, that even the players believe.

          This all makes these games both the hardest games to play and the games that are the difference between the Scudetto winners and the rest.

  5. The issue yesterday was the midfield. They are terrible at linking up with the from line. No thru passes or runs into the box to make space. Regarding Pulisic, he had the second least touches all game- similar to last game. WTF do you expect and it’s not like he wasn’t open. Our midfield has zero vision and will take a 25 yd shot on target when a wide player is in space with an open run into the box. RLC and Reindeers were the worst. Reindeers thinks he can drive thru 4 players every game. They hold on to the ball too long and then get trapped in trafic.

    1. Exactly. People love to blame e.g. Giroud for lack of goals and Pulisic for lack of creating chances when the REALITY is that they cannot do that without the ball and getting into those situations where “doing their thing” is even remotely possible.

      How many scoring chances did the 10 teammates on the pitch create for Giroud? Ah, yes. Zero. Has Giroud ever in his career been a player who conjures goals or chances out of thin air like some sort of Messi? Nope, not really. Should he be at the age of 40? Nope. He’s job is to score goals when the chance comes. They didn’t come.

  6. You predicted it because it was entirely predictable to anyone that has been watching this team under Pioli the last few years. Constantly dropping points to bottom table teams. Struggling to breakdown teams that don’t play wide open attacking football. Failing to protect leads, terrible at defending set pieces. These are all signs of bad coaching. Don’t try putting that on management. The injuries as well fall on Pioli. It’s been going on for 4 years now . He picks the training staff does he not? I know you are upset that Maldini got sacked but Milan undeniably have a stronger side than last season. Better at RW with Puli and Chuku. More depth overall in attacking with Jovic and Okafor. More quality depth in the midfield. You can argue that they should’ve added another defender, but it’s the same as last season.
    So it is a stronger squad. The results are on the coach. But seeing as it looks like he is about to get fired the team will probably come out and have a great game against Sassuolo. That’s usually how it works.

    1. It’s been going on for decades….

      The management changed half the squad and because of that it make it harder to beat these teams.

      That split second advantage that comes from playing and partying together makes all the difference.

    2. It is a weaker squad. If you are checking the names, ok. But if we are looking realistically, the last years team was in CL semi-finals and had more points that this years team. What is exactly stronger?

      1. No. The squad is stronger, the performances are worse. That is on the coach. He has gotten away from what worked when they won the scudetto which was a solid, compact defense and a dangerous counter attacking team. Now Pioli thinks he is Pep Guardiola and trying to turn this team into something it is not. Also Leao has regressed this season and the way Pioli is trying to use Theo is not working either. Not to mention that the team is completely undisciplined with the yellow cards and red cards. This all comes back to the coach.

        1. I agree. The squad is stronger and there is more depth. It’s just that Pioli has butchered 21 out of the 27 players already and damaging the team in inexcusable ways.

          If he had everyone available Milan could challenge Inter & Juve for the scudetto. But you cannot do that after ruined all but one CB’s health & fitness (and even that “one man standing” is Kjaer who cannot stay fit for 2 weeks in a row).

          So… The squad would be good enough but it’s the coach that has ruined everything.

  7. The fact Pioli will always start Giroud, never take out Leao the idiot ,not ask Theo to play more with the team ,for me that alone is sufficient enough to immediately fire Pioli. His slowmotion back passing football and lack of high press should get him jailed. Does he think that we don’t care about how the team plays ? Besides that football will not get you results as we are seeing

  8. Milan last season were better.
    Tonali krunic Ben.
    Diaz can start up counter on his own
    The only problem we had last season is rw not scoring even though there where much scoring chances created.
    Diaz was our driving force last season and nobody seems to understand that leao need space to excel, you don’t expect him to go past defenders.

    Reinders has no sense
    Cheek is clueless by always going to rw
    Giroud does flick on everytime for somebody to start counter but forgot no Diaz.
    Chuks excel in Spain because he only occupied the rw but at Milan you will see loftus going to rw….

    Milan will score goals if we had Diaz who has quick feet to open up space.

  9. 1. Defensive disaster

    Yes, midfield is not defending properly, almost not at all. I’ve been saying this since 3rd round of Serie A.

  10. We all know Pioli’s cycle has come to and end. I have been saying it over and over we need a more tactical coach and one that can get more out of the talent we have. This likely won’t happen until the summer because the choices in now are not great. So either you appoint an interim coach or wait till summer when we can hopefully grab Motta.

    HOWEVER – firing Pioli won’t solve all our problems. MANAGEMENT IS EQUALLY TO BLAME. They took a RISK firing Maldini and not REPLACING him STRAIGHT AWAY with a respected voice (now Ibra but perhaps too late) and entrusting Pioli will all the power. Second it was a RISK tearing down a UCL semi final team and one w a huge amount of TEAM CHEMISTRY and start over. Teams that do that usually don’t win straight away. Yes we are more talented on paper but talent doesn’t always win games – TEAMWORK does. We had a less talented team BUT we had a team that bought in to the plan Maldini created. Once that was removed and Sandro sold – it is clear it has had an effect on the Team COHESIVENESS. Third our signings outside of Reindjers have been average it seems. There is a reason players like Pulisic and RLC were available for 20M each – because each has consistency and health issues. That hasn’t changed. Otherwise they would have been worth 40-60M. So what do you expect? When you shop for bargains that is what you get. Musah and Chuk are two expensive and overpriced BACKUPS. 48M that could have been spent on a real starting #9 so the 38yr old Giroud doesn’t have to play every 3 days. We had ample opportunity to sign many strikers – BUT Management chose the cheap route and didn’t get anyone except (the free) Jovic and instead blew 48M on Chuk and Musah. Okafor is a nice player if he can stay healthy but he’s most likely a backup again. Romero and Pelligrino? LOL. Yes injuries haven’t helped but that is part of the game.

    So what do we do now?? Does anyone actually think we are gonna spend 50M in January to buy a striker, 2 defenders and a mid???? LOL. Keep dreaming. Our signing is a 18 yr old Popovic who will take our last EU spot and may be a nice signing for the future but won’t help us now. And we will likely bring Gabby’s back. That is MANAGEMENTS master plan it seems. so while I agree Pioli must go and is to blame – EQUALLY – so is MANAGEMENT. Let’s not forget that.

    1. Reindeers: 2 goals and one assist for the season. As a midfield player that’s terrible. He’s better than Pulisic? Well he will be if no one on Milan can make a pass to Pulisic when he’s open. The midfield was terrible- Corriere della Sera gave him and RLC 4.5s for the game and Pulisic a 5. These are more accurate ratings than the ones from these blogs.

Comments are closed

Serie A Standings

Live football scores . Current table, fixtures & results.