Milan fought back and secured a 2-1 win over Genoa on Saturday night as we picked up a much-needed victory to relieve some of the pressure on Marco Giampaolo.
After falling behind largely due to a Pepe Reina error, goals from Theo Hernandez and Franck Kessie turned things around for the Rossoneri to seal all three points.
While there were positives at the start of the second half, it was still a performance that did little to either fully convince that we’re on the right track or suggest that this could be a possible turning point in our season. Of course it’s hoped it is, but time will tell with the international break now upon us.
Wrong starting XI, poor first half
There is an argument to suggest that our struggles so far this season aren’t all down to Giampaolo, but it’s difficult for him to avoid coming under scrutiny when he picks a side like the one we saw this weekend.
Milan looked slow, ponderous and lacklustre on and off the ball in the first half, and that’s to be expected when leaving the likes of Rafael Leao and Ismael Bennacer out given that along with Theo Hernandez, that trio are the only players capable of injecting some urgency and pace in the side.
It was all sadly predictable in the opening 45 minutes, while chopping and changing it every week isn’t going to help us build stability and consistency. Giampaolo needs to settle on a balanced XI, and Saturday night surely gave him the answers needed on who’s best placed to ensure we keep improving.
No more Calhanoglu, Suso
Hakan Calhanoglu was rightly hauled off at half-time as it was another poor individual display from him both on and off the ball.
Given he has been consistently average this season, even below average, he simply can’t stay in the starting line up moving forward and Lucas Paqueta should get the nod ahead of him.
Similarly, Suso is offering little and yet Giampaolo persists with him. The Spaniard is capable of producing real quality, but when it comes 1 in 5 times whether it’s a direct shot or a delivery into the box, it’s simply not good enough.
In Rafael Leao and Ante Rebic, Milan have two pacy, hungry players who can add a different dynamic to the technical quality that the likes of Giacomo Bonaventura, Paqueta, Bennacer and others can provide. It’s time Giampaolo gave things a real shake up and stop relying on the same old faces who continue to frustrate.
Huge boost to have Bonaventura back
What separates Jack from the rest is his tactical awareness and his intelligence on the pitch. He rarely makes the wrong decision and invariably shows more quality in what he does.
Add to that his unpredictability and his movement off the ball, it’s a huge boost to have him back fit and starting again, and it’s hoped that he can go from strength to strength in the coming weeks and months.
Ideally, a trio of Theo Hernandez, Paqueta and Bonaventura working in tandem down our left flank could add real quality and intent to our play, as seen in the second half against Genoa, but changes elsewhere are still needed to make us tick as a complete unit.
Rafael Leao must start
Ultimately, my belief is that Krzysztof Piatek should still lead the line but rather than continue to ask him to play a role that he isn’t effective in, go back to basics and get him into dangerous areas and give him the service to rediscover his prolific goalscoring form.
Leao showed in the second half at Genoa that he must start as his pace, movement, directness and general attacking threat adds something completely different to our frontline.
It was a shock that he didn’t start given his form in the last two games, and if there were any doubts over his impact in this team, he dismissed them this weekend.
Still not enough from Giampaolo
From Piatek’s two penalties, Kessie’s effort from the spot and brilliant individual goals from Hernandez and Leao, we’re relying heavily on moments of quality rather than impressing collectively.
There is still not enough in terms of Giampaolo’s style of play or brand of football, as we still struggle to break sides down and dominate a game with not just possession, but intent and a tempo to our play when we get into the final third.
Those are characteristics that supposedly earned Giampaolo the job and what the Milan hierarchy expect to see from this side. As of yet, we’re still not seeing it and ultimately it’s the same story with the same players for the most part as it was more about grinding out a win rather than doing it in convincing fashion.
More is needed with regards to the performance, as this still wasn’t a display that removed any doubt about Giampaolo’s ability to find long-term answers.