Milan host Lecce at San Siro on Sunday night as Stefano Pioli looks to make a winning start to his tenure with the Rossoneri.
Things simply haven’t gone to plan so far this season and while we sit down in 11th place in the Serie A table, with just nine points from our opening seven games, we can’t afford to slip any further off the pace in the battle for a top-four finish.
Marco Giampaolo’s tenure came to an abrupt end despite being so early in the campaign, but the Milan management evidently felt as though a change was needed and Pioli will hope he can bring experience and tactical know-how to get the best out of this group of players.
Looking at this weekend’s clash in isolation though, Milan need to show key characteristics in terms of the performance and that in turn will hopefully lead to a positive display and three points for Pioli to give them a much-needed immediate boost.
Right attitude, proactive approach
There are key principles for any successful side, and generally speaking they revolve around playing with confidence, intensity, urgency and an identity in terms of having direction on the ball and being organised and resolute off it.
These are basic things that Milan have to get right and importantly marry altogether at once, and if they can match Lecce for effort, desire and commitment, we should have the quality required to make the difference and secure all three points.
Pioli hasn’t had a great deal of time to work with the entire squad since arriving over the international break, and so it’s about getting the fundamentals in place and building from there by showing balance in the side and a clear identity.
Give the fans reason to get behind players
From the frustration and disappointment surrounding Giampaolo’s stint to the question marks that have been raised over Pioli since he was chosen to be his successor, there has been a lot of negativity and uncertainty around Milan in recent weeks following yet another major change.
Despite that, MilanNews note via La Gazzetta dello Sport that the fans haven’t been put off and it’s expected that around 50,000 will be in attendance for the clash on Sunday night.
Just like us, those fans deserve to be rewarded with a side capable of giving them reasons to get behind the players rather than whistle and jeer. If Milan can win that particular battle and create a positive atmosphere and environment at San Siro, it could be huge for confidence and belief moving forward.
Find a system, players that work
As noted above, Pioli may not have had an ideal amount of time to get his ideas across and assess what options he has at his disposal.
Nevertheless, he should know enough about the players in order to make informed decisions over who should get the nod in his starting XI and in which system they will deployed which best suits the individuals at his disposal.
It may not work immediately and perhaps tweaks will be needed during the game, and while this is by no means a suggestion that Milan should use it as a time to experiment and risk underestimating the opposition, it is an ideal chance to get clear answers on who Pioli can rely upon and what formation suits them best as a collective.
With games against Roma, Lazio, Juventus and Napoli to come before the end of November, Pioli needs to answer these questions now and Lecce at home presents a fairly decent option to test what is going to work and what will not work moving forward.
From talk of a 4-3-3 vs 4-2-3-1 to how our style of play will no doubt change again now, Pioli must keep it simple and see which key players are most effective in what positions and trust in that initially to get positive results.