Milan slipped to a 3-1 defeat to Fiorentina at San Siro on Sunday night as Marco Giampaolo is arguably now battling to save his job.
Goals from Erick Pulgar, Gaetano Castrovilli and Franck Ribery sealed the win for the visitors, with Rafael Leao scoring an excellent late consolation goal for us.
However, it was nowhere near enough to secure a positive result, and having now lost four of our opening six Serie A games of the season, there will perhaps be serious question marks hanging over Giampaolo’s future at the helm this week.
Giampaolo on the brink?
If the first half at Torino was a step forward, this was undoubtedly a major step back for Giampaolo and Milan as we were simply second best throughout.
4 – AC Milan have lost 4 of the first 6 Serie A games for the first time since 1938/39 (and previously it's happened only in 1930/31). Debacle. #MilanFiorentina
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) September 29, 2019
With the statistic above in mind, coupled with the lack of progress and improvement made under the Italian tactician since he took charge this summer, it is undoubtedly leaving him in a very dangerous position in terms of his job security as time and patience is surely running out both in the stands and for the management.
Some will argue that he perhaps still needs more time, but given the lack of direction, confidence, identity and grit being shown by this side for the most part, it has to be said that a change could be imminent as we’re already six points off the top four and in danger of slipping well off the pace at this rate.
Musacchio suspension gives Duarte chance
After receiving a red card on Sunday night, Mateo Musacchio will now face a suspension and that finally opens the door for Leo Duarte to prove his worth.
Musacchio has often been considered a weak link in our backline given his vulnerability in making costly mistakes, and so albeit it’s an enforced change for Giampaolo, it will be interesting to see if we look a more solid unit without the Argentine centre-half in the lineup.
Duarte immediately looked good after coming on, although he could have done better to deny Ribery’s goal. Nevertheless, he now has an opportunity to impress and stake his claim for a permanent spot next to Alessio Romagnoli.
Bennacer shows inexperience
While Ismael Bennacer must still be in the starting XI ahead of Lucas Biglia, the 21-year-old showed where he needs to improve against Fiorentina with his sloppy play in midfield.
The summer signing was fortunate that an early mistake didn’t result in a goal, while he gave away two penalties thereafter and was once again burdened by an early booking throughout the game.
Showed glimpses of his classy play in possession, but needs to be more consistent and less rash off the ball to avoid making these costly mistakes moving forward as that is arguably the ideal excuse to bring Biglia back into the side.
Time up for Suso, Calhanoglu & Kessie
There ultimately has to be a breaking point at some stage for Giampaolo to stop naming these three in his starting line-up if they simply aren’t delivering.
Hakan Calhanoglu was sloppy and lacklustre throughout as he surrendered possession far too easily on countless occasions, while Suso had his moments but again failed to provide a decisive presence in the final third which is essentially his only job given his lack of defensive contribution.
As for Franck Kessie, while his energy and tenacity remain vital attributes that he brings to our midfield, the decision to haul him off at half-time perhaps says it all given his lack of composure and quality on the ball.
Ante Rebic, Lucas Paqueta, Giacomo Bonaventura, Rade Krunic and even Samu Castillejo were all on the bench this weekend, and this performance surely must now open Giampaolo’s eyes to the need for change.
Rafael Leao continues to shine
Perhaps the only bright spot in a dire performance was Leao’s influence on the game. The 20-year-old looked a constant threat with his pace and directness down the left flank, and he capped it off with a brilliant solo goal to lessen the embarrassment.
The youngster has grabbed his opportunity to shine with both hands and isn’t disappointing, and it’s just hoped that he shows that all-important consistency needed at this level to emerge as a crucial player for us.
While the early signs are certainly positive, the true test to see if he can become a great player rather than just a good one will come in the upcoming weeks and months if he can continue to deliver and improve further.