Though much of the blame for AC Milan’s indifferent start to the season can be apportioned to uncertainty in defence, they have also suffered from a considerable lack of creativity in attack.
The 3-5-2 deployed by coach Vincenzo Montella has often looked lopsided, and has quite frankly failed to provide the team with the balance it is crying out for.
While it would be grossly unfair to blame the absence of one player for the Rossoneri’s failure to live up to expectation, there is no doubt the loss of Andrea Conti in mid-September has hindered Montella’s plans.
After all, he has ended up fielding Fabio Borini as a wing-back. No one could have anticipated the ex-Liverpool flop would play such a consistent role in the side, let alone do so in a wide role where he is bound to be asked questions defensively.
If Montella’s plan was to play a 3-5-2 from the get go – that seems plausible given the addition of Leonardo Bonucci – then the club should have provided him with better cover in the wing-back department, given how crucial a position it is in a three-man defensive system. With Ricardo Rodríguez still acclimatising to Italian football, the Diavolo really could have done with some level of consistency on the flanks.
Fortunately for Milan’s sake, he is reportedly making a speedy recovery and has responded very well to treatment on his injured knee.
All being well, he is expected to return between January and February, giving Montella a welcome boost in their pursuit of a return to the Champions League next season. Not only will he add greater defensive solidity and positional sense to his team, but he will also provide greater attacking impetus on the right flank.
Under Gian Piero Gasperini at Atalanta, Conti showed how effectively he can balance his defensive and attacking responsibilities playing in a 3-4-3.
Though doing so in front of an expectant San Siro crowd can be daunting, the 23-year-old showed sufficient early promise prior to sustaining his injury that he can be one of the main pillars of this new Milan project. His return to the pitch really cannot come soon enough for all Rossoneri fans.
Written by Jordan Russell
Follow Jordan on Twitter @JordRuss96
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