A defeat in Sunday night’s Derby della Madonnina – their fourth in eight matches – has left many AC Milan supporters questioning whether Vincenzo Montella is the right man to take their club forward.
In fact, there is little doubt that both Marco Fassone (CEO) and Massimiliano Mirabelli (technical director) will have asked themselves that same question in the aftermath of what was yet another largely underwhelming performance.
The Rossoneri already trail league leaders Napoli by 12 points, despite having invested upwards of €200 million on new players during the summer under the stewardship of their new Chinese owners.
Take the situation at face value, and it is easy to see why there are fans out there who are already calling for the coach’s head. However, by looking at the bigger picture, people should try to understand why sacking a coach this early on in a new project would do very little for its credibility.
New players, more time to find the right formation
With so many new players having joined his squad during the transfer window, it was always going to take some time for Montella to decide what his preferred system would be, and which players fit into that tactical set-up.
Having publicly stated his discontent at having few natural wingers at his disposal, it would seem he is against the idea of continuing with the 4-3-3 which was often used to good effect last season.
To the distaste of some, he looked to get the best out of his new squad of players – not least Leonardo Bonucci – by looking to implement a 3-5-2 formation. His team has often looked disjointed in this system and there have been calls for a rethink, with former president Silvio Berlusconi leading the disquiet amongst the support.
In order to get the best out of Suso in a wide position, it could be worth switching to a 4-2-3-1. This would allow Hakan Çalhanoğlu to play in his preferred role as trequartista in front of Franck Kessié and Lucas Biglia which is, on paper, a very functional double pivot.
The one thing which is likely to prevent Montella from trying this system is that it theoretically only allows one orthodox centre-forward to play. With André Silva, Nikola Kalinić and Patrick Cutrone all vying for a starting spot, this might do more harm than good.
While it would be wrong to sack Montella so early in the season, there is no denying he must look to come up with a different plan of attack.
He has the makings of a super-talented and exciting squad of players, but right now they are failing miserably to live up to expectations. Money has been spent and the nucleus of a highly-competitive squad is in place.
What Milan need now – more than ever – is patience. Montella knows what he has to do. The ingredients are there but, as is the case for any coach, it will inevitably take time for him to realise what his perfect recipe is.
The “obsession” that is returning to the Champions League is still well within the realms of possibility.
Written by Jordan Russell
Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96
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