Milan have enjoyed a positive run of form since the season restart earlier this month, and it starts from the decisions made by coach Stefano Pioli.
The 54-year-old was appointed back in October to replace Marco Giampaolo, and it’s fair to say that he wasn’t the most popular of choices for the job based on the social media response at the time.
Nevertheless, when you consider the state that the Rossoneri were in at that point after our dismal start to the campaign, he has undoubtedly done a brilliant job to steady the ship and get us back on track.
In 25 games at the helm, the Italian tactician has won 11, drawn eight and lost six, and as the tweet below illustrates, we’ve certainly picked our form up since the start of the calendar year and it’s largely down to Pioli picking the right system, the right players and making the right decisions.
21 – #ACMilan have picked up 21 points in 11 matches in Serie A in 2020, as many as they gained in their first 17 games in the current league season. 2020.#MilanRoma #SerieA pic.twitter.com/YIMVatKW9k
— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) June 28, 2020
He has now seemingly settled on a 4-2-3-1 formation which arguably puts the players at his disposal in their most comfortable positions and gets the best out of them, as well as trying to build a sense of consistency and familiarity amongst the players as they form key partnerships across the pitch.
On top of that, he’s starting players on merit and those who are in good form, while also raising the level many perform at with Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie, Hakan Calhanoglu, Ante Rebic and others all playing much better now than they were at the start of the season.
Importantly too, if he feels as though a player can give more for example, he isn’t afraid to just say it, as we’ve seen with Rafael Leao in recent weeks. That honesty and straight-up nature of Pioli is also a commendable personality trait.
Furthermore, as seen in the win over Roma on Sunday evening, Pioli’s decision to introduce Lucas Paqueta and Alexis Saelemaekers in the second half was perfect, as they gave us the fresh drive and the lift needed to go on and secure all three points in a crunch encounter.
And if that wasn’t enough to earn him the credit he deserves to receive, he’s done all this amid speculation over his future with Football Italia noting last week, via Sky Sport Italia, that Ralf Rangnick will potentially be replacing him as part of taking up a broad position as coach and director of sport this summer.
To have the media openly discuss a man who is potentially going to take his job and yet still show the same humility and respect to his position as he did before is a true testament to the character and personality of Pioli, as he has dealt with it in a classy manner having focused the attention on Milan and achieving our objectives this season.
We’ve had our ups and downs this season and Pioli hasn’t been perfect. However, I certainly have a new-found level of respect for him as both a man and a coach given his style of management and personality, and it’s hoped that not only will he secure Europa League qualification this season, but if he is replaced, he is shown the level of respect that he deserves by Milan.
Pioli has brought stability, structure, identity, a solid core and a way of playing as the season has progressed, and while he continues to impress coming out of the lockdown, time will tell if it’s sustainable to ensure that there is a positive end to the campaign regardless of whether or not he’s around for the start of the next one.