MILAN have been quite inconsistent so far this season, and I personally believe it’s because the players aren’t functioning as a team, and therefore, the club is relying on moments of individual skill from players, rather than successful partnerships and interplay.
While it’s true that consistently playing a similar starting 11 might blend the team together with time, is this really the time to be relying on such a thing? Is there an alternative?
So far this season, Milan have lined up in either a 4-3-1-2, or a 4-3-3, familiar to last season, but these systems have problems. The 4-3-3 was mainly used last season to take advantage of Ronaldinho, as he seemed incapable of playing elsewhere, but he’s already had a few successful games just behnd the strikers, so it’s not necessary anymore.
The 4-3-1-2 has been used more this season, but I think it leads to Ibrahimovic getting isolated – thus seriously reducing his effectiveness – but also it means less of a benefit for Pato, who’s forced to take on multiple defenders to get at goal, when really, he’s best at coping with just 1 or making some direct runs behind the defence.
If Milan were to adopt a 4 man midfield system, it would allow Ibrahmovic and Pato to strike a golden partnership, which would reward both handsomely, but also having 2 wide players which track back would relieve pressure on the full back area, which is clearly Milan’s biggest weakness.
However, this too causes it’s own problems, because it means just 2 central midfielders. Why is this a problem you might ask? Well, for me, Andrea Pirlo is absolutely essential to the side, he had the best passing stats in all of Serie A last season, and he’s instrumental in setting up Milan attacks, but due to his lack of mobility and strength, it’s necessary to have 1 player stuck to just defensive duties and reducing pressure on him from the opposition.
Unfortunately, it means there will be no 3rd man there getting forward to support the strikers, though I do think it might succeed with good wing support.
And that brings us to the last conundrum – wingers. We know that Pato and Ibrahimovic would play up front, and a midfield pairing of Pirlo, and Gattuso (Milan’s best dm this season) would make up the side (along with the back 4 and Abbiati) but who would play on the wings?
Robinhho is no natural winger, but he would probably do a good job on the left, I’d like to fit Ronaldinho in, but his work rate is abysmal, and I think the wingers must be energetic and hard working for a formation like this to work. I’d suggest someone like Kevin-Prince Boateng to play on the right – he’s filled that role for Ghana before, and he’s strong, fast and full of energy – it’s not an ideal fit, but probably as good as Milan could do.
It’s also worth noting however, that if it’s not the time to just keep playing the same side and trying to blend the squad together, then is it a time to be trying a completely new system either? Maybe it isn’t.
Whether or not this system would work, there’s no real way of knowing unless Milan try it, but to be honest, I’m not really convinced that Massimiliano Allegri is even considering changing the formation, but I suppose he’s the man who’s paid to make all of the decisions, and if he can get this Milan side working as a team with a 4-3-1-2, then the Rossoneri will be all the better for it.
By Hefin Davies, Rossoneri Blog