Milan started 2020 with a goalless draw at home against Sampdoria on Monday while Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his highly-anticipated comeback.
Despite the beginning of a new year, the need for a reaction after the heavy defeat to Atalanta before the winter break and Ibrahimovic’s return, there was yet another poor, lacklustre performance which simply wasn’t good enough.
In turn, the Rossoneri dropped more points, and that’s now three consecutive Serie A games in which we’ve failed to score as our struggles continue.
Unhappy return but promising start from Ibrahimovic
The 38-year-old wasn’t considered ready to start but was introduced just before the hour mark as he took Krzysztof Piatek’s place up front.
While he wasn’t able to make it a dream comeback with a crucial goal even though he had chances to do so, there were enough positive signs to suggest that his mere presence up top will cause problems for opposition defences.
Ibra posed an aerial threat and offered a target in the middle while he showed a few deft touches to get others involved in attacks. As he gets his match fitness back and starts to feel more comfortable back playing at this level, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Ibrahimovic is back in the starting line-up before too long.
Suso at risk of being dropped
It can’t have been easy for the Spaniard on Monday as nothing seemed to go his way and the San Siro faithful certainly made it clear how they felt about his performance.
While it’s all well and good arguing that he’s been our most decisive creative player in recent years, there is absolutely no doubt that he is not warranting a place in the line-up this season and is going through a horrendous run of form which should see him dropped.
Even in his preferred role on the right wing in a 4-3-3 system, he isn’t delivering with just one goal and two assists in 16 games. With that in mind, whether it’s a personnel change or formation switch, it’s difficult to see Suso staying in the XI in the coming weeks as he isn’t doing anywhere near enough.
4-3-3 not working
One of the biggest concerns about Ibrahimovic’s return was that given his physical presence in the box and threat in the air, it would become all too simple to just deliver cross after cross directed at him and let that become our strategy to break teams down.
We saw signs of that on Monday, especially from Suso, and it’s starting to raise serious question marks as to whether the 4-3-3 system is the way forward.
Whether it’s a 3-5-2 or 4-3-1-2, Stefano Pioli has to consider a change now. Allow the full-backs to provide the width down the flanks and put more technical and creative quality through the middle, with perhaps Piatek playing off Ibrahimovic in a two-man attack.
Something needs to change, as three games and no goals says it all about our attacking play at the moment.
Shocking lack of reaction
The minimum expectation in our first game back after the winter break was to see us produce a reaction after that embarrassing defeat to Atalanta.
It seems as though it was forgotten by many of the players over the festive period as there was a lack of intensity, urgency and quality across the pitch to make it as uncomfortable for Sampdoria as possible from the first minute.
Whether that’s a breakdown between the coach and the players or the players simply not being good enough is up for debate, but it was hugely disappointing to see Milan not come flying out of the blocks with something to prove.
Creative players big problem
While it’s great having Ibrahimovic back, it’s questionable as to whether or not he’ll be able to make much of a difference if those around him don’t perform better.
It could even be argued that it doesn’t matter who we have leading the line if the likes of Suso, Hakan Calhanoglu, Lucas Paqueta and Rade Krunic don’t do more, as the lack of creative quality continues to be a major problem for Milan.
Perhaps the system switch touted above would freshen things up and get the best out of certain individuals. With Cagliari away on Saturday, it’s hoped that we don’t see a repeat at the weekend as this poor run in front of goal simply can’t go on and is screaming out to be scrapped.