After what seemed a never-ending wait for official confirmation, Milan finally announced Marco Giampaolo as Gennaro Gattuso’s successor on Wednesday.
As per the club’s official site, the 51-year-old has signed a two-year deal with an option to extend for a further 12 months, as he now takes on the biggest challenge of his coaching career to date.
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Following his most recent spells with Brescia, Empoli and Sampdoria, this will be an entirely new challenge for the Italian tactician when he arrives at Milanello on July 9 for the first day of pre-season training, as expectations and standards will be higher than he has encountered previously.
Naturally, it’s hoped that he thrives in his new position, and while he will have his detractors until they’re proven wrong, there are three major issues that he must address before the new campaign gets underway.
OFFICIAL: Marco Giampaolo is AC Milan’s new head coach pic.twitter.com/JctBa59uPy
— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) June 19, 2019
Implement his style of play and tactical system
Milan have used the 4-3-3 for some time now despite coaching changes, and that system is undoubtedly engrained into the players at this point.
The expectation is that Giampaolo will adjust that and switch to his preferred 4-3-1-2 system, with the hope that he can successfully transform our style of play.
Despite promising early signs last season, Gattuso struggled to develop an identity to our play and a direction as we often became slow and predictable, which in turn led to constant struggles to break sides down.
On the basis of what we’ve seen from Giampaolo in his previous jobs, the Italian tactician prefers to play a quicker, sharper passing game with well drilled combinations from back to front, while coupling that with a real intensity and tenacious side off the ball to press high and quickly.
Ultimately, that is a modern way of coaching and it’s hoped that he can successfully get those fundamental ideals across to the players and have them carry those instructions out on the pitch. It will certainly take many hours at Milanello this summer to get it perfect.
Decide on who doesn’t fit into his plans
Not only in order to raise funds for further spending or to balance the books, Giampaolo has to axe players that don’t fit into his tactical plans detailed above to create space in the squad for others to arrive.
As noted by MilanNews.it, Suso has been a major talking point in terms of whether or not he has a future at San Siro under our new coach, given that he has predominantly been used as a winger throughout his time at the club and there will be no such role if Giampaolo switches to a 4-3-1-2.
The latest suggestion is that the Spaniard will be used as the trequartista behind the two frontmen, which could potentially push Lucas Paqueta to the left of the midfield three and rotate with Giacomo Bonaventura when he returns from injury.
It remains to be seen if that is indeed the plan for Suso, while question marks perhaps remain over the likes of Samu Castillejo, Hakan Calhanoglu, Lucas Biglia and Franck Kessie, as there could be a midfield revolution at Milan this summer, with Calciomercato noting that countless targets are being eyed for that department.
Bring in players to suit his ideas/get the best out of key individuals
As noted above, the likes of Lucas Torreira, Jordan Veretout, Stefano Sensi and Dennis Praet have all been paired with a move to Milan, and the midfield has to be the priority this summer.
Particularly given the fact that we’ve lost Tiemoue Bakayoko, Riccardo Montolivo, Jose Mauri and Andrea Bertolacci, we evidently have nowhere near enough quality or depth in that area.
In turn, to successfully implement Giampaolo’s system and style of play, he needs to bring technically sound, creative and composed individuals for the midfield who can play a passing game and dominate possession, with Rade Krunic already securing a move.
The names above would arguably solve that problem, but time will tell if Milan can bring in the right players and back Giampaolo ahead of what promises to be an intriguing, and hopefully successful, campaign.
What happens to the midfield will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on both the defence and attack too, as we have to build a solid foundation at the back to set us up to go out and win games, while it will be absolutely crucial to get the best out of Krzysztof Piatek who will score the goals if the service is right and if he isn’t left isolated.