After assessing the reasons to support Milan’s decision to stick with Stefano Pioli, in the interests of a balanced argument it’s only fair to look at the reasons against too.
As confirmed on the club’s official site, the Rossoneri have agreed to extend the Italian tactician’s contract until June 2022, off the back of an impressive run of form and amid relentless speculation over the possible arrival of Ralf Rangnick.
Earlier this month, the Guardian even reported that Rangnick had agreed to become Pioli’s successor ahead of next season, and yet here we are as he looks set to remain in Germany while we move forward with our current boss.
Many will be disappointed with the decision and that’s completely understandable. Here are arguably a few reasons why…
Since our last Serie A title in 2011, Milan have consistently fallen short and further adrift of the top as we’ve tried time and time again with former players and Italian coaches to reach our previous levels.
Having failed to deliver the desired results for nine years, it was felt that a proper revolution from top to bottom to change the culture and philosophy of the club was needed if we were to compete in the modern-day game on and off the pitch.
That in turn would have made Rangnick the smart move, whereas now the pressure will be on Pioli and the hierarchy to make sure this progression we’re seeing this season continues next year, otherwise he will certainly come under growing pressure and criticism if things don’t go to plan.
While it could be argued that this is much more than a good run of form, perhaps Milan haven’t thought long-term here and the benefits of what Rangnick would have done in terms of building a model that might have brought success from both a football and business perspective.
Influence of good form
Just how influential have recent results been in the decision-making process for the hierarchy? Not so much according to CEO Ivan Gazidis…
“This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose, the way he has improved the performances of the individual players and the collective team, the way he has embraced our vision and the way he has represented himself and the club’s values,” he told the club’s site.
For the sake of Pioli and all concerned, you certainly hope this really is the case as good form comes and goes, and so it’s about how you react to adversity and bounce back too.
In turn, time will tell if we can now firstly finish the season in strong fashion as the timing of the announcement is bizarre too. With Pioli confirmed and Europa League qualification sealed albeit we ideally want to go straight through to the group stage and that requires finishing above Roma, will there be a drop off that leads to immediate concerns over the decision?
There is without doubt evidence to back up Pioli’s influence beyond the results, but now comes the real test having earned the right to continue to build on what he’s done thus far.
Horribly handed, risk of backfiring
Ultimately though, the most disappointing aspect of this whole situation was just how badly it was handled from the start.
As noted in the Guardian report above, all the talk has suggested that Rangnick was absolutely arriving this summer and rumours were relentless over possible transfer targets and how he would replace Pioli even though he was still in charge and doing a great job.
From Zvonimir Boban’s exit over the farcical situation to question marks over how Paolo Maldini would fit into a new-look management model to the disrespect to plan ahead with all these individuals currently still in their roles, it was horribly handled and that in turn will only leave us open to further scrutiny and criticism if the path we’ve chosen to take now ends in failure.