Tuttosport: Milan suffering a leadership void without Ibrahimovic and Maldini

By Oliver Fisher -

AC Milan head coach Stefano Pioli might well be missing the presence of two key figures in Paolo Maldini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a report has claimed.

This morning’s edition of Tuttosport (via PianetaMilan) recalls that each time Milan have faced a big game this season – namely the ones against Inter, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain – they have lost.

Another defeat against Napoli on Sunday would turn it into a crisis. Returning from Paris, Pioli had a discussion with the captain, Davide Calabria, over the words he said after the game against PSG.

Calabria said they were to shake up and motivate the team, but criticism still remains for the coach’s tactical choices.

“The problem is both psychological and tactical. We were unbalanced, accepting one-on-one matches against these players,” he said.

There is concern about the tactical transformation of Milan who lost against Juventus precisely because Malick Thiaw found himself as the last man on Moise Kean and in Paris they conceded the first goal by leaving Kylian Mbappé in too much space.

Milan’s defence suffers and the attack doesn’t score. The attacking trio have been forced to work overtime because Samuel Chukwueze is injured, while Noah Okafor was but he is about to return,

Luka Jović got hurt at the Parc des Princes while warming up as well, which didn’t help things, meaning a 37-year-old Olivier Giroud had to play the full 90 minutes.

He is without an open play goal since the first game of the season, while Leao needs to become more consistent in order to realise his potential.

Tuttosport highlighted the absence in the dressing room of a leader like Ibrahimovic and, in the management, of a figure like Maldini. Until last season, Ibrahimovic was pulling the strings at Milanello and, behind him, Maldini hovered.

It should be remembered that at a media level Maldini acted as Pioli’s ‘umbrella’ even in the darkest moments (such as after the 4-0 defeat against Lazio at the Olimpico).

In Paris, according to the newspaper’s analysis, a void was felt around Pioli. No director showed up post-match to comment on a situation which, in the Champions League, had become practically routine.

Tags AC Milan Paolo Maldini Zlatan Ibrahimovic


  1. We all agree that the treatment of Maldini was uncalled for and will forever be a stain on these owners and the club. If the owners felt it was necessary for the good of the club, the LEAST they could do is deliver a Scudetto this season, where it is basically a two-horse race.
    As for Ibra, he had a great impact when he could train and play. Last season, he may have been a positive influence but the impact waned. He is missed but not like Maldini who both protected the team when needed and called them out when appropriate.

    1. Being a dressing room leader and a good executive are two different things. Maldini was not good at his DoF job, while still being a point of reference in the locker room. If he wasn’t good at his job what is the club supposed to do? Let him be there forever because he’s Maldini? It’s also not up to the ownership to “deliver” a scudetto. We spent 116m on players in the summer. It’s up to the players and the coach to “deliver” the scudetto.

      1. @Vero Rossonero…
        “Maldini was not good at his DoF job…”

        So, based on one season, Maldini was not good.

        He signed Theo, Bennacer, Leao, Tonali, Kalulu, Tomori, Kjaer, Ibra, Marignan, Thiaw, Giroud, etc…and won the scudetto and got Milan back into the UCL. But according to you, Maldini was not good.

        …because he signed Origi, CdK, etc.

        Please don’t bring up letting Donnarumma, Hakan and Jessie leaving for free. Gazidis has already clarified that.

      2. Have to disagree with you her Vero. Scaroni said it best. Maldini was hired because no one wanted to come to Milan so he was used as bait. Not that they’re doing better they no longer needed him. Crafting a Scudetto winning team is no small feat, neither is making a shock UCL run. Sure there are things done badly ambut most of it was good. The core of the team was from the prior management. The current brouhaha is based on the players we got over the summer not being vastly superior to the ones we had before (as well as the limitations of the coach, the area in which a certain fired director wanted to address. In much the same way he was absolutely correct in bolstering the defence with Botman)

        1. Apparently they still need Maldini’s leadership at the locker room. No wonder Gerry attempted to change Maldini’s role.

      3. LOLOLOLO – “Maldini wasn’t good at his job”

        Magnian, Theo, Leao, Kalulu, Thiaw, Benny, Tonali, Tomori, etc….LOL.

        By your logic – Then that would mean Moncada is/was not good at his job either. You can’t have it both ways.

        Stop w the hate bro and move on. This article was talking about leadership and it is evident that there is a void. Could it be Ibra or Maldini missing or both? etc…who knows but it’s a fair point. Thus far, Pioli isn’t handling the pressure well. Arguing with Calabria when Calabria have an honest assessment of the teams performance bs PSG; saying we played a great first 60 minutes – better than PSG? LOL. Delusional or he just doesn’t know how to handle the pressure on this own. Time will tell but this far it’s a bit concerning. Let’s see if he can steer out of it or not. But to say Maldini’s absence just like Ibra’s had no effect cause you didn’t like him as a director doesn’t make any sense and is completely false brother.

  2. I think leadership is probably what milan is missing.
    Pioli is a coach without leadership ability.
    He has been coaching milan since 2019 and imo enough experience in playing at high level competion (european league and UCL).
    Yet milan still are still struggling this season. Drew with newbie Newcastle, and lost to PSG despite better squad than the last 2 years. While newbie Newcastle beat PSG 4-1
    Something wrong with this coach, and his delusional comment “we played better than PSG for 60minutes” prove it. He has become stand-up coachmedian rather than world-class coach.
    Pioli imo doesn’t grow as a coach.

  3. “It should be remembered that at a media level Maldini acted as Pioli’s ‘umbrella’ even in the darkest moments (such as after the 4-0 defeat against Lazio at the Olimpico).”

    I doubt anyone here remember that.

    Nb: I don’t remeber.

  4. Esattamente così! Il Milan dispone oggi di una rosa di giocatori come poche altre squadre ma manca di leadership all’altezza della situazione. Nel Milan di oggi io ci vedrei bene un Ancelotti, purtroppo è impegnato con il Real. La rimozione di Maldini è stata una mossa di totale miopia.
    Insomma qualcosa deve essere fatta al più presto

  5. Let’s not pretend like last season the situation wasn’t the same or worse and Maldini was part of the club. Do people forget January and how bad Milan was for most of the 2nd part of the season?
    No one is missing Maldini.
    Milan is missing leadership on the pitch.
    Zlatan is the one that’s missing.
    Zlatan was on the books last season, but most of the season he was away from his teammates because of injuries and it was felt, just like this season.
    Zlatan presence on the pitch it’s what is missing. He was holding players and coach accountable.
    The squad has no leader.
    Giroud is too much of a nice guy to be a leader and Kjaer is a fringe player.
    Maignan might be the only other leader, the rest are followers

    1. The collapse happened after fatigue, injuries, and a World Cup in the middle of the season. We are not at that stage yet this season.
      At this stage last season, after spending 50 million on transfers, we were 2nd in Serie A, won against both Inter and Juve, and had 4 points in the UCL.
      So far this season, after spending 100 million on transfers, we are 2nd in Serie A, lost to both Inter and Juve, and have 2 points in the UCL.
      Let’s not act like these guys are doing better than Maldini and Massara (Return to UCL, Scudetto, semi-final UCL). After spending double, we are exactly where we are (I’m being charitable). The way things are going, we will need to reinforce in January to win the Scudetto

      1. Milan is currently 2nd in serie A only a point behind inter, after losing to Juventus because they played with a man down for 50 minutes, otherwise Milan was 1st in serie A
        When it comes to UCL this season Milan isn’t playing vs Dinamo Zagreb and the youngest team in Europe Salzburg. Some still can’t comprehend that the whole ucl last season was based on luck of the draw, not because the team was actually good.
        Milan also has injuries this season as well.

    2. Lets not pretend that Zlatan was away from his teammates last season.

      Zlatan was often with the team even when he is injured.

    3. Do people forget it is not January yet? Milan performance at August-October last season is better than performance at August-October this season.

  6. Last season’s collapse was foremost due to in the middle of the season World Cup and consequently fatigues that led to injuries while having no alternatives on the bench.

  7. Milan have no Coach at all pioli does not how to use what he has,and he is also Dull onr and intrnsative one and he is anemy of milan sucees he is agent of inter.
    But the Cause of this Failure is the maanagement and the owmers who are watching their investment going down day after day.
    In Somalia we use wisdom( Dab nin haayo Dey lama dhaho) which means do’nt say a man who is holding a burning stick throw ayay)
    Poili is sturbon one and he does not know anu tactics and syeytems he repeats the same formatiom and flob palyers again and again while expecting different results.

    1. Briareos, are you related to Pioli by any chance? or do you work as an agent on his behalf?

      Because anyone who has watched Milan’s games this year would not defend Pioli’s tactics (or lack thereof).

      Yes, he deserves credit for the scudetto 2 years ago but since then, the team has changed, the formation has changed and we’re still trying to play the exact same way.

      PS. Since you’re close to Pioli, please tell him:
      1) Krunic is not messi, stop pushing him. Just stop it.
      3) Work on situations were teams sit 10-11 players deep.
      4) Work on defender positioning and tackling – without dragging them to the ground and picking up cards after getting easily beaten.
      5) Stop effing around with moneyball and sign a real forward. Davids is a PK machine but not an open goal scorer. Another WRONG choice for Milan.

      but hey, according to Pioli we outplayed Inter, Juve and PSG for most of each of the games. It’s just these unlucky situations that led to Milan allowing goals and not scoring any! We dominated those matches, clearly, so no changes!

      I’m losing patience with this attitude.

  8. This time no hope without mentality support from veteran figure or legend (not just maldini). Also, it relatively young team that didnt now about history. Since 2013 approximately, the leader figure has fading from milan bench.

  9. I don’t get it. Isnt this what owners and management wanted (apart from trying to get Ibra back)? They thought Furlani , Moncada and Pioli could do the job so let them! And it’s not the end of the world yet. We’re still doing ok, aren’t we?
    I often wanted to see what Pioli would do on his own and I’d still like to see what he can do for an entire season relying on himself. Not only him but Furlani and co too. If you make the choice to fire Maldini for whatever reason, then these are the consequences of those actions (ie not having someone experienced in these moments to help the team). Bringing Ibra back signals to me that they don’t really think it was entirely the coach’s ability that brought them success and that they knew that footballing experience and knowledge counts for alot. So they fire one who had it but wanted to keep the other (Ibra), so that they can turn around and say it was Ibra’s effect not Maldini that made the difference all along. Thankfully I ran, so far is smart enough to evade that mess

  10. It’s unfortunate we don’t have good leaders in the locker room, and ridiculous we have to constantly rely on Ibrahimovic. I guess this is the risk you run when most of the players you bring in are always 20 years old. It’s also another stain on Pioli, part of whose job it is to create a winning mentality.

  11. If Ibra returns now, he’s going to have a fallout with Pioli sooner than people expect. Ibra’s contract as a player will be different and I’m sure for a man like him who has worked with some of the world’s top coaches like Ancelotti, Guardiola, Mourinho, etc. he knows a thing or two about tactics and how a coach has to transmit a winning mentality to the team.

    I’m very sure Ibra isn’t interested in being a mascot for the team. He’s going to have his say and he’ll be loud. If Pioli is agitated because of Calabria’s comment, imagine what will happen when Ibra opens his mouth.

    1. It’s basically a serial winner at an elite level thing. That ego (which is a very good thing) has to be there to separate yourself from the regulars. Maldini had it too. These guys aren’t going to be quiet or be pushovers, they want to win and will be vocal if things are less than their standards. I’m sure Ibra probably questions the top 4 mentality of Scaroni. It’s just not in his DNA to have think like that’s it’s probably one of the reasons why he hasn’t come back.

    2. Ibra is a good friend of Pioli. Chance that Ibra has fallout with Cardinale is higher than with Pioli. But on media perspective, Cardinale might tolerate Ibra as Ibra tend to generate publicity with his out of the world statements.

  12. Also I find it funny seeing the players faces when Furlani went to hug them in the tunnel before the Juve match..the look of bewilderment was hilarious. Theo was like wtf 🤣. Exactly what was that supposed to do? Pump them up? Bro provides the checks, just make sure the money is in the bank account at the end of the month 😂😂😂 you’re not Maldini, try something different maybe.

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