As Milan prepare for the final game of the Serie A season this weekend, coach Stefano Pioli has earned praise and plaudits from all corners after the stellar job he’s done.
The Rossoneri know that we will finish the campaign in sixth place, and that means an early start to next season as we’ll attempt to navigate our way through the Europa League qualifying rounds.
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Since the restart though, we’ve looked a completely different team as we’ve won eight and drawn three, scored 32 goals and conceded just 12.
What makes that run of form all the more impressive is that we’ve faced Juventus, Lazio, Roma, Napoli, Atalanta and other top-half sides over the last couple of months.
While the positive signs were already visible since the turn of the year, Pioli has done a brilliant job in instilling his principles and philosophy on this squad, and that in turn has made a strong argument to back the decision to extend his stay and stick with him heading into next season.
Culture, mentality and style of play now clear…
Following Marco Giampaolo’s sacking in October, Milan needed stability and a figure who could bring calm to the situation and guide us forward.
Given his lack of tangible success during his coaching career thus far, many would be forgiven for believing that Pioli was perhaps nothing more than a stop-gap solution to get us through this season and another managerial change would then be made.
There were flashes of his impressive work shown in our performances early on in his tenure, but it wasn’t quite clicking at that point as we continued to languish in the bottom half of the table and were hammered by Atalanta before Christmas. After that devastating result, we were in 11th place with just 21 points from 17 games.
Since the start of 2020 though, we have gone through the gears, strengthened the squad sensibly by adding experience with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Simon Kjaer arriving, and we’ve started to develop and see pillars of the side evolve and improve to show their quality and importance to us moving forward.
It starts with Pioli’s switch to a 4-2-3-1 system and playing his star men in their more comfortable roles, but there is so much more to what he has done over the course of the campaign.
Our mentality has completely changed and our approach is spot on. We’ve assembled a young, hungry squad balanced with experienced heads to guide them, and that’s reflected in our play on and off the ball.
The tempo has picked up, as we have the right intensity and urgency to our play as we press the opposition, force mistakes and attack quickly in numbers. Our build-up play is more patient and intricate when necessary, slicing through defences either down the wing or through the middle and that work starts on the training pitches at Milanello.
We’ve added new dynamics to our attack and players have stepped up, and that all starts with the preparation, set-up and guidance from the coach down as Pioli’s influence is stamped all over this team now and it has resulted in the superb run we’ve been on since the restart.
Milan now have an identity on the pitch. We have direction in our play in and out of possession and we have players excelling on an individual level too.
Go through comments from the players in recent weeks when discussing Pioli. They are 100 percent with him and behind him, and his work in developing this well-oiled winning machine which he has moulded to defend with more positive intent, to transition into attack quicker and to showcase a clinical edge to our play has been exceptional and he’s certainly bringing the joy back to fans when watching our Milan despite the ruthless nature of the fixture schedule.