Why Milan face crucial week as big decision on Giampaolo needed

Giampaolo AC Milan

It was another setback for Marco Giampaolo on Sunday as Milan fell to a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Fiorentina at a frustrated San Siro.

That’s now four defeats in our first six Serie A games of the season, leaving us in 16th place and already six points adrift of the top four.

SEE MORE: Five key talking points as Milan capitulate against Fiorentina in dire defeat

While there were certainly more positive signs against Torino last week, particularly in a decent showing in the first half, there is no doubt that the performance and result against Fiorentina was a major step backwards and it has raised serious question marks over Giampaolo’s position.

As noted by MilanNews, a meeting will be held among the management with the Milan coach present on Tuesday, as they are seemingly looking ahead to the Genoa game which could be decisive in deterring whether or not a change is made.

Speculation has been rife over possible replacements since the game ended on Sunday night, with La Gazzetta dello Sport linking a string of different names to the job including the likes of Arsene Wenger, Rudi Garcia and Gennaro Gattuso, while Claudio Ranieri has publicly distanced himself from the role.

GdS have even suggested that Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko could be an option, but given our current situation, that would surely be a disaster waiting to happen.

So, the question now is whether or not Milan should sack Giampaolo and abandon their plan after just a handful of games, or run a potentially huge risk and stick with him and hope that things improve?

Milan management accountable, Giampaolo running out of time

From the wait to see Paolo Maldini accept a role at the club to the late arrivals of Zvonimir Boban and Frederic Massara, getting in-house positions filled took far too long this summer.

That in turn slowed down Giampaolo’s appointment and his signings, and there is no doubt that he didn’t have as much time as he could have had this past summer to work with his players, albeit international commitments perhaps would have made that a redundant point anyway.

Nevertheless, nothing about this summer was particularly swift or emphatic, although we did eventually add quality players to the squad with the likes of Rafael Leao, Ismael Bennacer and Theo Hernandez looking capable of playing key roles moving forward.

Many have argued that Giampaolo needs more time and patience, but the reality is that he’s been in charge since June 19, and at this level with the expectations of a club like Milan, you simply can’t afford to lose four out of six games to start the new campaign regardless of how long you’ve had at the helm.

Yes, he needs time to implement his preferred style of play and brand of football, and the players at his disposal have let him down with abject performances across the board. Perhaps the biggest criticism of the Italian tactician is that he’s shown too much faith in individuals who aren’t producing for him.

However, there is perhaps an argument to suggest that standards shouldn’t be dropped, as if we begin to accept defeats and poor performances on the basis of a coach needing time to get it right, then we’re running a serious risk of no longer being a big club who always aim high.

Based on the MilanNews report above, it would seem as though the Genoa encounter is the last chance for Giampaolo to at least show that he’s moving us in the right direction, and perhaps that’s a fair conclusion to reach as a morale-boosting win could be the turning point we need to get our season on track.

Win or bust? Performance key…

Perhaps equally as important as the result at this stage though is how we perform against Genoa. Against Fiorentina, we looked disjointed, lacking in identity, confidence and direction as the Viola outplayed us and not only extended our woeful start in front of goal but picked us apart on the counter-attack.

Ultimately, there was nothing in that performance other than Rafael Leao that can be taken aside and looked at in a positive light. It was simply a disaster, one not befitting of this great club where we demand, and rightly expect, so much better.

In turn, Giampaolo has to show something to the management this weekend to suggest that his methods will work and his ideas are getting across to the players.

While inexperience, naivety and a lack of leadership are criticisms that can be thrown at this squad, Giampaolo was chosen for this specific reason to guide this group of young players forward.

Question marks can be raised over Elliott’s strategy and vision, and whether or not it’s the best way forward to get results. Sadly, it’s too late for that conversation now as we are where we are, and Maldini may well be needed to pull the plug on this latest plan if things go wrong in Genoa on Saturday.

As seen in Arrigo Sacchi’s quotes below, Giampaolo still has backing from different quarters, and some fans certainly still support him and continue to plea for more time.

However, if he can’t show improvement on the pitch, it becomes a question of the hierarchy either holding their nerve and sticking with their man, or making a change now before it’s too late and the season becomes about salvaging something rather than bridging a one-point gap to fourth place from last year.

In turn, the message is clear for Giampaolo and the players this weekend, if he survives that long. Show us something that we can get behind and back and that gives us belief that this set-up from top to bottom is the one to take us forward.