SEVEN QUESTIONS and one panel consisting of 4 writers with 4 different views about Allegri. Part 2.
Manager Max Allegri is entering his third season with the club and after losing the first match of the season against Sampdoria, found himself back on the hot seat. We brought in a panel of writers to give their opinions on Allegri and his future with Milan.
They are Football Italia’s David Swan, Forza Italian Football’s Rajath Kumar and MilanObsession’s Elaine and Rossoneriblog’s Pete Acquaviva. The final three questions will be discussed in this portion, with a first four questions answered on Thursday.
Question: Do you believe Allegri will make it through this season with his job intact?
David Swan: Providing he stays on course for a top three finish, yes. The money from the Champions League is so incredibly important to the club, especially with the finances as they are, that he has to make third at least. If he turns the New Year miles off third, or even hits February/March time in this position, then I can see him getting a panic sack as the club desperately scramble to reach the Champions League.
Pete Acquaviva: I do believe Max Allegri will make it through this season, however, that is contingent upon his ability to stay near the top of the table. His previous starts of 5 points in 5 games will not be good enough this time. He has a significant amount more pressure on his shoulders this year (as well, perhaps, as a forced new outlook to matches without Ibrahimovic) and it will be the real test of his abilities as a manager if he can finish in the top 3 and challenge for the Scudetto (which as Udinese showed last year, are not necessarily one and the same). I believe he will. In the most uninspiring, and least “flair-ful” way possible.
Elaine: This is really up to Berlusconi and Galliani and the availability of another coach. Personally, I don’t think he should stay. There are several forces at work here: management, the financial crisis, the player exodus, and the transfer market. Of those, only one of the four did he have a hand in, but the other three are not things that he can control, either. So for his player management and the part that he has played in the discord, lack of discipline, and players departing, I think he should be accountable for those things. This may not seem fair with so much more going on outside of his control, but the team needs more than just a few of these new players. It needs to be shaken up, turned upside down, and given a new direction, a new system of playing, etc. Unfortunately for Allegri, that involves his exit. And no, I do not believe that long term success will come without doing something this major.
Rajath Kumar: No. Milan are unlikely to mount a serious challenge for a top 3 position. Once he starts faltering, Berlusconi’s trigger finger will become itchy and he will waste no time in ridding Allegri of his post. The future does seem all doom and gloom for the club. I anticipate Allegri will be out of the job by mid-season, although it would be a sad ending.
When Allegri doesn’t train Milan, he perhaps likes to go on Party Casino and play Blackjack or roulette !
Question: Blaming coaches is nothing new in football, however Allegri in particular seems to garner criticism from fans of Milan and opponents alike. Why do you think this is? Is it valid criticism?
David Swan: I understand why opposition fans dislike him – he does come across as a bit of an ass sometimes with his comments. Last season wasn’t great for him – his moaning endeared him to nobody, though I think he was justified sometimes with his comments on Juventus’ laughable complaining about referees. Otherwise I accept others won’t like him. As for his own fans – who knows!? There are a couple of people on this page who can answer this better, because I don’t mind him. I think some are upset at his getting rid of the ‘senators’ – but it had to be done. Gattuso was well past his best and should have gone last summer. Zambrotta was playing at an unacceptably low level. Inzaghi was getting zero football – and rightly so with the quality Milan had in attack last season – so it’s easy to see why he was let go. Everyone seems to forget this was a man that threw the toys out of the pram when Allegri didn’t play him in the Champions League. And let’s get one thing straight – it wasn’t all because of his fierce desire to play for Milan, he saw Raúl tearing it up with Schalke and wanted chances to keep with him in the European goals chart, which I find sad. Nesta was offered a contract but turned it down because he correctly deduced he wouldn’t play all the time. And despite everyone blaming him for Pirlo’s departure, he too was offered a contract, but turned it down. Then he gave different reasons for leaving – first it was because Allegri wanted to use him in a different position, then he said actually he didn’t mind adapting but wasn’t happy with the contract. But everyone still blames Allegri for making the right decision for the team – Milan couldn’t sustain Pirlo in that role anymore. Just look at the few games where he was used in that role during the 2010-11 season – the home game against Palermo in the Coppa Italia sticks in my mind. You have to build around Pirlo to get the best from him, and Allegri didn’t want an already old team built around a 32-year-old. He takes the flack from his own fans for making the tough decisions that had to be made.
Pete Acquaviva: Fans don’t like Allegri for several reasons:
1) He’s rude in press conferences – valid
2) He oversaw the transition from the last successful generation of players into the new generation (which meant escorting out the old legends of the club, never going to be a popular job) – not valid – If he didn’t do this, someone else would. There has to be a villain here, and Allegri is willing to be that man.
3) The brand of football Milan play under him is the exact opposite of what made Milan great in the mid 2000′s and represents a 180 degree turn. – valid
4) He’s the only person that talks about Muntari’s goal more than Galliani. – valid
5) “Dai Dai Dai!” – valid
6) He’s an easy scapegoat. Are most of the problems with Milan’s current structure his fault? Certainly not – however he’s got his own problems to deal with and it’s far easier to blame him and say that the coach simply needs to go than to take a good hard look at the organization and realize that this transition is much more than just a coach, his tactics, and his player selection. – not valid
Elaine: Allegri is not a likeable guy. He lacks charm or charisma, and his dark sense of humor is lost on too many people, especially the opposition fans. Any coach that is winning is accepted, but not always respected. I think that having lost control of his dressing room, it is hard for fans and those outside the club to respect him. Having been openly criticized by management, having stories emerge of fights with players – and not just one or two players or the usual suspects. Watching Seedorf storm off the pitch after being subbed showed that something more was going on than meets the eye, and that is the manager’s responsibility to keep in check. I think his words about referees last season, while well-intentioned, came off as sanctimonious, and then of course, he fell off of his own pedestal and said the same kinds of things as he was criticizing opponents for, becoming a hypocrite. I don’t believe you get past that while with the same club. I believe he will have to wipe the slate clean at a new club before those memories fade, if they do. I also find it interesting that all of my Juventus fan friends think that he is a mediocre or poor coach. They see the “ugly” football he has had the team playing, with the “pass it to Ibra” mentality, and they don’t see how well he’s managed the injury crisis or how he gets the most out of players like Abate or how he took players who had discipline issues at other clubs and turned them into respectable, upstanding players, capable of working together. Because much of what he does so well flies under the radar, and the things he does poorly, like press conferences, player management and functional-but-not-beautiful football, are what is on display most. Back to that charisma, a little would go a long way. He was never going to be a popular coach. It doesn’t mean he’s not a good coach. But I also feel his learning curve at Milan may be too low to make a difference anymore, and thus he would do well professionally to move on. Certainly, losing him could be just the shakeup that the team needs, too. Saturday’s win at Bologna was not so much a tactical victory, but rather a gamble he took by playing Pazzini when not match fit, and won. Although his unwillingness to sub him off until the 91st could have easily been cause for another injury. Against a stronger team, a defense featuring Bonera would never have withstood an attack like that, and the yellow cards earned by tired, sloppy players, are going to catch up to us and hurt us. It is also telling that he had to defend his relationship with Galliani yet again to the media after the match. While the new reinforcements should help considerably to make the squad competitive and compliment his preferred system of play, it is only a matter of time before his trademark stubbornness, poor player relations, and lack of proper player rotation cause the squad to implode again, but this time with a lot more competition for the top three spots. It’s time to cut our losses with Allegri and let everyone move on.
Rajath Kumar: It is valid, as he fails to learn from his mistakes. His small-club mentality and late game substitutions, his refusal to alter the system to counter the opposition and his failure to rotate the squad are some of the reasons that should be lambasted. However, one must credit him for maintaining harmony in the dressing room. His man-management skills are top-drawer, for which he is often not appreciated. However, he is constantly outclassed on the pitch tactically by shrewder opponents.
Question: What is Max’s future at the club? Can he become the manager that is expected to lead the new-look Milan as it is formed?
David Swan: I hope so. I know lots say he’s a provincial coach with a provincial mindset. I can understand why this is said, but he deserves a chance to show he isn’t and there have been times where he has shown this already. But I have a feeling he will lose his job in the not too distant future. Those that dislike him will be happy and I can see the new guy being a success and that being used as justification that Allegri sucked. He will have played his part though – somebody had to get rid of the old players, somebody had to make the tough decisions with players and to freshen things up. No-one will appreciate the job he’s done until he’s gone, at which point I hope people recognise that he laid the foundations for future success.
Pete Acquaviva: I don’t believe Max has much more of a future at Milan. As Galliani has stated, managers can expect to get four years with a top team like Milan. He’s in his third year now, meaning if he’s successful at achieving the goals of this year, he will most likely be allowed to finish out his contract at the end of next season. However, the brand of football that he plays is not the most appeasing to the eye, to say the least. It’s often uninspired, mechanical, and devoid of any sort of joy. This isn’t the brand of football that people pay to see (evident in part - although not certainly the primary cause of – of the season ticket numbers), and at the end of the day that is one of the main ways to make revenue at a club like Milan. With all the restructuring going on, I feel that Galliani and Berlusconi would be remiss to not take a look at Allegri’s job in all of this. He wasn’t given the support (especially financially) that Ancelotti, Capello or Sacchi before him were given, but would anyone really put Allegri in that same category? Can he be that manager? Never say never, but I don’t think he has much of a chance to do that unless the brand of football his squad plays suddenly becomes more appeasing.
Elaine: Sadly, I don’t think he has a future with Milan. If anyone could create the “new-look Milan,” it should be him. But I think he’s burned too many bridges, created discord within the squad and amongst the fans and opposition fans to the point that it is too much to overcome. I think management’s public criticism of him and always talking about tactics in the media has undermined his respect across the board, and I simply don’t see how he lasts long enough to bring this “project” to fruition. I also believe that his poor treatment of players alone could derail this “project,” harming the club further, should he stay.
Rajath Kumar: I see him being a care-taker until the management appoints a world-class coach, for example Guardiola. Allegri’s long-term future is a question mark, and will remain so, unless he makes in-roads in the Champions League. The last two seasons have been distinctly average and early signs suggest this season is not going to be any different. His achievements in Serie A, although impressive, aren’t going to win the management over, who always seek for European glory. Personally, Allegri’s style likes bravado and personality. So I much rather see him elsewhere than at Milan over the long haul.