Since Marco Giampaolo was appointed as Milan coach, there has been a balancing act between patience and a demand to see results sooner rather than later.
The Italian tactician arrived with the expectation that he would change the style of play and brand of football played by the Rossoneri, and there were some positive signs in pre-season.
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However, after two wins and two defeats in his first four Serie A games in charge coupled with the fact that we’ve scored just two goals in those outings, that balancing act is starting to test the patience of some fans. Others are well within their rights to remain patient and continue to show faith in the notion that Giampaolo’s methods will eventually come good as it’s still early days.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a post calling for Giampaolo’s head, nor is it one to suggest that at this early stage he is at risk or should be under the spotlight.
Instead, it’s about identifying the changes that the Milan coach should arguably make to his starting line-up, so as to avoid the pressure building and the criticism intensifying.
Having been given a run-out in the latter stages against Inter, it’s now a case of gaining match fitness and it’s difficult to see how the 21-year-old doesn’t cement his place in the starting XI.
He offers more urgency and intensity off the ball to win back possession higher up the pitch while he provides a dangerous attacking threat down the left flank with energy and technical quality.
It’s simply a no-brainer when compared to an ineffective and hesitant Ricardo Rodriguez who remains a liability at times, as Hernandez has done enough to convince he’s a better option already.
Another summer signing who must now take on a more prominent role as he’s had enough time to settle and integrate himself while learning Giampaolo’s preferred methods.
Similarly to Hernandez, he offers that bite and determination off the ball to make us a more imposing side which looks to get on the front foot and take the game to our opponents.
That’s already a big positive over Lucas Biglia, while he possesses the technical quality, vision and passing range to be a more effective regista than the Argentine stalwart.
While Hakan Calhanoglu is capable of doing a steady job in midfield, he has consistently lacked the quality needed to help us dominate games and unlock defences.
He still has a key role to play for Milan, but ultimately, Paqueta’s flair and creativity needs to be explored more and given a chance to be displayed on a regular basis.
Tenacious at times off the ball too, the Brazilian perhaps looks more comfortable on the left of a midfield three, which in turn allows the names below to be deployed in more advanced positions.
It was particularly impressive to see him link up well with Hernandez down the left flank vs Inter as that was a really promising look at a potentially productive connection.
All being well after his injury nightmare, Bonaventura is still going to be crucial for Milan if he can rediscover the form and level of quality shown prior to the setbacks.
The 30-year-old has bagged 31 goals and 17 assists in 152 appearances for the Rossoneri. Calhanoglu has contributed 13 and 24 in 94 outings while Suso has 23 goals and 36 assists in 139 games.
With his contract set to expire next summer, this is a big season for ‘Jack’, and if there is confidence that he has put his injury woes behind him, he needs to stop being protected and saved on the bench and be given a chance to start impacting games again as his goalscoring threat from midfield in particular is missed.
The Croatian international is in a similar mould to the likes of Hernandez and Bennacer in that he offers that snappiness off the ball and energy to get about the pitch and pressurise the opposition defence.
On top of that, he has shown his goal threat and creativity in the final third, and with his pace and movement, he offers a different dynamic that has been desperately lacking on the left flank for some time.
Milan have tried for over two years now to play with more technically gifted players who can pick a pass or create something out of nothing. However, perhaps it’s time to adopt more traditional threats with pace and width on the flanks to stretch teams and bring our goalscoring midfielders into the game.
After making a promising impression against Inter, the Portuguese starlet has certainly staked his claim for a more prominent role in the coming weeks.
Importantly, he’ll need to add a consistent end product to stay in the side, but his pace, directness and movement gives us another dynamic and crucial option.
Should he sit above Rebic in the pecking order? Is there room for both in the XI? Time will tell, although it’s likely that he could find himself in a scrap with his fellow summer signing for a spot on the left flank but it’s those two who should be fighting for the same place ahead of others in the squad.