Milan have confirmed that Stefano Pioli has extended his contract with the club and his stay will run on until 2022 after an impressive tenure thus far.
As per the club’s official site, the 54-year-old has now penned a new agreement as his initial deal was set to run only until the end of the season, with our fine form in recent months seemingly convincing the hierarchy to move forward with him at the helm.
The Rossoneri have come a long way since he was appointed in October, after the decision was made relatively quickly that things weren’t working out under former boss Marco Giampaolo and that a change was needed.
While it has taken time for Pioli to get things working as desired, the early signs of promise were there but ultimately the results weren’t following and so that left question marks and doubts hanging over his head.
Having arrived to ‘#PioliOut’ trending on Twitter before he had even signed his deal, coupled with the scrutiny and disappointment that he faced as the club’s choice to steady the ship, to see where we’ve got to under his stewardship is a credit to him and his coaching staff for getting us back on track.
That said, was it the right move to go long term with Pioli when perhaps a proper revolution was, and is still, needed for long-term change and success?
Mentality of squad changing
It’s simply so hard to ignore the work that he has done over the past nine months or so. Good form comes and goes, and so this decision can’t and won’t have been based on a few good wins since the restart.
There has been a shift in the mentality of the side both in terms of their desire to dominate games and win. This is something that is developed over time, and the confidence and belief in the players is growing constantly.
We’ve bottled certain situations and fallen short in others over recent years, but we’re showing signs under Pioli that there is a bit more of a steeliness and a classy side to our play and we feel as though we can not only score against any other side, but come away with all three points.
That is a fundamental attribute and strength of any top side in the game.
Development of key individuals
Theo Hernandez, Ismael Bennacer, Franck Kessie, Hakan Calhanoglu, Ante Rebic and others have all developed and improved their respective games under Pioli’s stewardship.
That’s reflected in the direct decisive impact they’re having to win games, as well as their all-round performances which display more maturity and quality in various phases of the game.
These same individuals have struggled to deliver under previous coaches, particularly on a consistent basis, but we’re now seeing these pillars of the side deliver week in and week out and Pioli’s belief and trust in them is surely a crucial factor in their upturn in form.
Results tell story, settled hierarchy
While winning one major showdown could be deemed a bit fortunate, the fact that we’ve won against Roma, Lazio, Juventus, Parma, Bologna and Sassuolo while picking up a draw against Napoli, it just shows an ability to compete at the top level against the top teams.
Pioli’s man-management, tactical nous and perfect rotation of the side has been invaluable in this current run we’re on, and if results are what coaches are ultimately based on, then he has earned the right to see this through and keep building.
Perhaps a settled and stable leadership model that we have in place currently is going to help us continuously get better too in order to start competing for major trophies in the coming years.
Identity and style of play emerging
While much has been made of Ralf Rangnick’s tactical mind and the influence that he might have brought to the club if he had arrived, with MilanNews noting that his agent ended talk of a deal being done on Tuesday night, there are already clear results of Pioli’s fine work on display.
Whether it’s the relentless yet systematic pressing or the intricate and smart attacking flow to our build-up play, Pioli has stamped his own ideas on the squad and the players at his disposal have been able to successfully adapt and implement those demands.
That’s a difficult thing to do for any coach, and it could even be argued that there are clear similarities between what Pioli is doing and what we’ve seen from Rangnick in Germany in terms of the high press, quick counter-attacking football and other more subtle tactical points.
Watching our recent run of games, it almost felt as though the stop-gap solution for Milan was in fact putting it on a plate for his successor, but instead, after months and months of speculation, it’s Pioli who will be staying on this summer as it remains to be seen what happens next for Rangnick.