After a brief stint in charge for Marco Giampaolo which lasted just 111 days, Milan opted to make a change on the bench as Stefano Pioli was appointed as his successor this week.
Despite a fierce backlash on social media and question marks over his credentials and track record as to whether or not he can lead us to the Champions League, the 53-year-old has seemingly convinced the Milan hierarchy that he’s the right man at the right time for the job.
Essentially, the message is clear. Win games, secure a top-four finish this season and it will be considered job done as far as everyone at the club is concerned.
However, given the reception Pioli has had so far, it promises to be a crucial few weeks to begin with as although Milan fans will now have no choice but to give him a chance as there’s little that can be done to change the situation, ultimately he’ll be under immediate pressure to deliver results.
Keep it simple, have clear ideas
With so many changes of coach, Milan have had little stability and continuity in recent years, perhaps dating back to Massimiliano Allegri’s tenure.
From Gennaro Gattuso to Giampaolo, we’ve gone from a defensive-minded coach to one that wanted to change our style and play more expansive football. While we didn’t get to see much of it on the pitch, the work done in training would have been geared towards it.
In turn, Pioli must keep it simple, adapt to the players at his disposal and find a system and style of play which is best suited to get the best out of them as a collective. While that’s easier said than done, keeping it as simple as possible to get results has to be his priority, especially early on, and perhaps after that he can start to impose his ideas and style more.
"Davide Astori would be happy to see me here" 📽
Watch Coach Pioli's first interview in Rossonero 🔴⚫
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 9, 2019
Don’t repeat mistakes and rely on same players
If Pioli can get the the likes of Suso and Hakan Calhanoglu delivering decisive performances week in and week out, great! It’s to everyone’s benefit if so-called key players are crucial for us.
However, what he can’t afford to do is stick with the same individuals who have let down coaches who have come before him with abject and disappointing displays over and over again.
The early suggestions aren’t promising given Il Milanista note the Milan boss was keen to compliment Suso in his press conference on Wednesday, and the fear is that we’ll see the same faces given prominent roles under yet another coach. Time will tell if Pioli is ready to ditch those who aren’t performing and make some brave decisions, or if he’ll persist just like the rest.
Get Piatek firing, Paqueta lead role
It’s time to revisit what made us so effective last season and try to tap back into that strategy to get the best out of the players at Pioli’s disposal.
Having scored just six goals in seven games, we must start finding the back of the net more regularly, and the one man in this squad who has shown he can be a prolific presence up front is Krzysztof Piatek.
Utilise his main strengths and give him the chance to prove he isn’t a one-season wonder. There’s a clinical finisher in there, get him firing and Pioli’s job could become a whole lot easier. He has shown over the years with the likes of Sergio Pellissier, Marco Di Vaio, Alberto Gilardino and Miroslav Klose that he knows how to get goals out of his frontman.
The best way to do that? Identify a system and individuals who best suit Piatek and can provide him with the necessary service and creativity, with Lucas Paqueta the stand-out option given the flair, technical quality and goal threat that he brings to the team while starting Giacomo Bonaventura certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Integrate summer signings fully
One of the most disappointing aspects of Giampaolo’s tenure was the lack of his use of our summer signings, with some of them arguably perfectly suited to his style of play.
Perhaps there were issues behind the scenes as Calciomercato suggested that the former Milan coach didn’t get the targets that he wanted, and so the players he was given potentially didn’t suit what he needed.
Either way, he had quality at his disposal and he didn’t make the most of it. In Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer, Rafael Leao, Rade Krunic and Ante Rebic, Pioli has a top quintet and they must be given more space in the months ahead especially if we get the same old story from other key individuals.
Start strong at home, get early points on board
It’s an obvious observation, but the quicker Pioli gets us winning, the more backing he’ll receive from the stands and from the fans in general. As noted by MilanNews, he insisted his slogan is simply ‘to win’, and that he will demand ‘ideas, intensity and ruthlessness’ from his players.
Home games against Lecce and SPAL are winnable regardless of our recent form and struggles, and so he has to target six points to start building a strong home record in front of the Milan faithful.
Trips to Roma and Juventus and visits from Lazio and Napoli before the end of November mean that he’ll have it all to do in crunch games immediately. In turn, it will be fundamental to find a way to win and wipe out that four-point gap to fourth place as quickly as possible to get everyone on-side and quickly forgetting about the furious reaction his appointment earned this week.