As the hours and days tick on this week, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely that Milan will opt to sack Marco Giampaolo before Saturday’s encounter with Genoa.
Having lost four of our opening six Serie A games of the season, there is undoubtedly huge pressure on the 53-year-old’s shoulders as he has endured a nightmare start to the campaign.
Last weekend’s defeat to Fiorentina was a huge blow and raised serious question marks over his tenure, and it’s felt that another setback against Genoa next up could spell the end and force the hierarchy to make a big decision.
As noted by MilanNews, via the paper edition of Corriere della Sera, it seems as though that’s the approach the club’s management will adopt, and ultimately with just days until the game, changing coach now would surely just add more panic and chaos to the situation.
In turn, Giampaolo could have a chance to prove he should remain in charge, and a win over Genoa could be a turning point for him. However, there are three factors that come into play in order for that to happen.
Stick to his principles and ideas
One thing that the Italian tactician can’t do is abandon what he set out to implement and build when he took the job this past summer.
There could be a temptation to focus on simply avoiding a defeat to Genoa by producing more of a solid performance without trying to display his preferred style of play and brand of football.
While that could produce a temporary reprieve and boost, it’s not what Giampaolo was brought in for and so not only does he have to win on Saturday night but we have to do it in style too and that will require seeing more of the football played in the first half at Torino.
Drop underperforming players
Giampaolo has his flaws, but a key factor in our struggles so far this season is that particular individuals haven’t performed well enough and that has contributed to the poor performances.
The Milan boss has shown plenty of faith in the likes of Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu so far this season, even tinkering his tactics to better suit those at his disposal. If he sticks with them, he could be running a serious risk of seeing them come up short again.
Ante Rebic, Giacomo Bonaventura, Lucas Paqueta and Rade Krunic were all on the bench this past weekend, it’s surely time for Giampaolo to tweak and rotate to see if the quality depth in his squad can deliver and show us something different to what we’ve seen so far this season as what’s been preferred thus far hasn’t worked.
Play key individuals in natural, most effective roles
In the event that he decides to play it safe, it could be argued that Milan should revert back to a 4-3-3 and play a system which we know well and suits specific key individuals.
Whether it’s Rebic out on the wing, allowing Rafael Leao to continue to shine on the left flank or Paqueta on the left of a midfield three, there’s a set-up that could be adopted and may well be the sensible way to go to get out of the hole we’re currently in.
In an ideal world, a 4-2-3-1 could be more effective as it would perhaps limit certain players to roles that they would excel in and not ask for too much more from them. However, it would be quite a gamble for Giampaolo to tinker to that extent, and so the expectation is that he will keep it as simple as possible.
There is still a preference to stick with Krzysztof Piatek despite his troubles in front of goal so far this season, but rather than try to change the way he plays and look for different attributes, just focus on providing him with the service that he would excel with and get him closer to goal to start finishing some of the chances that he has missed in recent weeks.
A combination of going back to basics and staying true to his principles could see Giampaolo through this weekend, and perhaps even longer if he gives us, the fans, and the management, a reason to believe that his methods and ideology will work in the long run.