Milan were second best in the Derby della Madonnina on Saturday night as Inter secured a 2-0 win while we slipped to our second defeat of the season.
In truth, it was a night to forget for several reasons as not only did we look vulnerable defensively, leaving huge gaps out wide and in midfield for Inter to threaten, but we also rarely looked like creating anything ourselves as Samir Handanovic had nothing of note to deal with.
With that in mind, it’s another setback for Marco Giampaolo, and he’ll have to find the solutions and make the necessary changes to ensure that we bounce back when we travel to face Torino next Thursday.
Rodriguez a liability again
From his wayward back-pass to Gianluigi Donnarumma which almost cost us a goal to being constantly caught out in behind, Inter targeted our left flank and exploited Ricardo Rodriguez.
Theo Hernandez did more from an attacking perspective in 20 minutes than the Swiss international has arguably done since he joined us, as he is consistently anxious and hesitates in possession before going backwards.
Coupled with his lack of pace and urgency, it was a clear weakness in our backline while a rusty Andrea Conti certainly struggled on the opposite flank too.
Given the high tempo and frantic pace of the game at times, it was always going to be likely that Lucas Biglia would struggle to have the same level of influence that Ismael Bennacer could.
The 21-year-old has the energy, tenacity and technical quality to give us a foothold in any game, but particular in this one given we needed much more than what Biglia provided.
While the Argentine stalwart offers experience and composure, it’s simply not enough in the big games if we want to impose ourselves on the opposition and dominate these encounters as the expectation was that Giampaolo would look to play on the front foot and pressurise our opponents off the ball.
Should consider dropping Calhanoglu, Suso
Giampaolo has shown loyalty and faith in certain players since taking charge, largely those who have spent the most time training with him and thus taking on board his instructions and ideas.
Hakan Calhanoglu and Suso both fall into that group, but ultimately the pair aren’t delivering consistently enough to warrant being named in the starting XI week in and week out.
That’s not to say that they aren’t talented and have a big role to play for us this season, but with so much talent sitting on the bench, Giampaolo can’t afford to just continue to stick with them even when they are struggling to have a positive influence on the game.
Leao shows promise
Although the youngster showed naivety and inexperience at times, his turn of pace, directness and confidence to take his man on were positive aspects of the overall performance.
Still only 20, he has a lot of room for improvement and development, but there is little doubt that he possesses talent and can get better.
It was a positive outing considering the circumstances, and it’s hoped that we’ll see him get more chances to impress in the future with better options around him.
Hernandez, Bennacer, Paqueta, Rebic & Bonaventura must get chance
As the weeks go on, it would be a huge surprise to not see these names in the starting line-up on a regular basis, once they’ve had enough time to get back to full fitness and have adapted to Giampaolo’s style and demands.
Hernandez, Bennacer and Ante Rebic all possess great qualities on and off the ball, while Lucas Paqueta and Giacomo Bonaventura have flair and creativity to unlock defences and make us a more dynamic threat in the final third.
With Rodriguez, Biglia, Calhanoglu and Suso all failing to convince on a consistent basis, coupled with Leao’s inexperience, there is simply no reason as to why the players who were sat on the bench this weekend shouldn’t get a chance in the starting XI moving forward.
If Giampaolo doesn’t rotate and sticks with the same players in the weeks ahead, the pressure will arguably only continue to build on him and it’s difficult to see a significant improvement in our play as we’re desperately struggling for goals to start the season with the players he’s stuck with so far.