Back-to-back defeats have left AC Milan coach Gennaro Gattuso under the spotlight as question marks are being raised over his ability to lead this side to success.
While the players must also take on responsibility for showing fragility and a lack of urgency on the pitch, the approach adopted to the tactical set-up has been poor in the last two games.
From seemingly playing not to lose rather than going out to win against Inter, to the way in which Real Betis looked at home at the San Siro on Thursday in the Europa League as they ultimately strolled to a win having outclassed us for most of the game.
There are concerning issues developing again with our side, but Gattuso could arguably rescue the situation in the upcoming games against Sampdoria and Genoa by making the changes detailed below.
Start Mattia Caldara
While Cristian Zapata should be nowhere near the starting line-up again after his performance against Betis, there are still question marks over Mateo Musacchio.
From his tendency to make a costly defensive mistake to his general lack of reliability in key moments, it’s time for the Caldara-Alessio Romagnoli partnership to be given an opportunity and to cement their place in the heart of the backline.
Having returned to training after his injury layoff, it’s time for our summer signing to start making his mark in the starting XI.
Leave Tiemoue Bakayoko out/never start Fabio Borini again
Borini offers nothing to this team. While he can be commended for his hard work, this is top level football not Sunday League, and so more is ultimately needed than good work-rate, particularly if he plays in an attacking role.
Given he has consistently failed to offer anything positive in such a role, he must not start again.
In contrast, there is a little sympathy with Bakayoko as he is clearly struggling for confidence and belief in his own ability. Given our current situation though, he’s a liability that he we can’t afford to have in the side.
Give Patrick Cutrone more playing time
Delivered off the bench once again, the 20-year-old deserves to be given more minutes having now shaken off that ankle injury as he’s bagged four goals in just eight games this season.
After the disastrous idea to play him out wide on the left flank against Inter, a two-pronged attack alongside Gonzalo Higuain is surely the answer as it has delivered results whenever used by Gattuso.
Use a different formation to the 4-3-3
With the above point in mind, perhaps a 4-3-1-2 could work, with Calhanoglu slipping into a midfield role while Suso plays behind Higuain and Cutrone.
There are variations that could be used, but it seems as though the 4-3-3 is causing more problems than it is delivering solutions at this point.
It’s been the downfall of several coaches in recent years for being too stubborn to move away from it, it’s time Gattuso tried something different and had a more compact team that isn’t so easily overrun by technically gifted sides in particular.
Get back the fighting spirit and right mentality
Milan look fragile and have been lacking in confidence and identity once again over the past week. It’s in stark contract to the urgency, intensity and attacking flair that they were playing with as the second half of last season developed and at times this year.
Further, the patient yet expansive style of play we’ve seen so far this season has disappeared over the last two games, and so Gattuso has to find a way of meshing those two characteristics together while calming his side down even against a high press.
At this point, he’s likely to sacrifice entertaining football for results and rightly so as another defeat will be disastrous for him and will leave us trailing our rivals by a bigger margin. In turn, he has to get us in the faces of the Sampdoria players and give them no time to settle on Sunday.
Further, they have to be better in possession and more effective going forward. It’s easier said than done, but the minimum demand is that these players should be preparing for battle and to out-work the opposition.