Napoli came to the San Siro on Sunday night and completely humiliated Milan on national television with a 4-0 win.
It honestly cannot get much worse than last night, and I felt sick to my stomach watching the goals go in, with our defence seemingly helpless to stop the attacks.
Having had their bubble well and truly burst, we must now reflect on what exactly went wrong for the Rossoneri, and if there is indeed any cure for what is already looking like a lost cause.
If you are already feeling somewhat depressed about the result, I don’t suggest reading this. I’m using it as an excuse to vent, so enjoy.
1. Lessons learned
First of all, I must tip my hat to Napoli and Maurizio Sarri.
They came to the San Siro with a clear game plan: to absorb the Milan pressure by committing bodies behind the ball, defending narrow, then spreading the ball wide with quick counter-attacking movements.
The way that they played was actually superb to watch, especially as they closed out the game at the end. Intelligent movement and passing with real energy and determination about their play, especially on the defensive side of the ball as the home team never looked like scoring.
It is a lesson learned for the team, in terms of how to play and go about your business. I do not believe for one second that Mihajlovic asked the team to go out and play with such slow tempo and no real commitment to the cause, but that is somehow what happened. Why? I do not know.
2. The system is broken
One thing I must point out, and it is something I have said before on at least one occasion, is that the 4-3-1-2 will never work for the current squad of players.
The 4-3-1-2 requires two strikers who can feed off one another, with one deeper lying forward to create for a poacher. Meanwhile, Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano look like they have never trained together.
It also requires a natural Trequartista, which Giacomo Bonaventura sadly is not. I know I called for him to be played there after the last game, but that is because he is the best candidate in the squad.
At least two quality midfielders are needed for the formation. Two to create, one to sit and absorb pressure while intercepting play and contributing on the defensive side. We all know Milan is three good midfielders short.
And finally, the two central defenders must be confident and composed, as the full-backs are required to overlap and supply width, which will leave the CBs open from time to time. Ely and Zapata didn’t provide anything but panic attacks.
It is time for a change. Honestly, Milan played better football in the 4-2-3-1 under Clarence Seedorf.
3. The boss panics?
Linking with my point about formation, there was a sense in the second half that Mihajlovic himself didn’t know what to do with the team.
Luiz Adriano was drifting out wide constantly in order to receive mostly long balls, so on came Alessio Cerci to fill in at wide right.
I do not know how Cerci keeps getting opportunities ahead of a far better technical player such as Suso. All he did anyway was remain absent and compound the misery.
Then there was Montolivo, who was pretty dreadful I must add. Surely Nigel de Jong despite offering nothing creatively would have at least given something on the defensive side? Hindsight, maybe.
I know there were injury problems, and I’m not suggesting for a second that Miha should be sacked as that would solve nothing, however I must wonder at this point in time whether the managers has 100% faith in his players to get out of this mess.
4. Missing out
Hats off to Allan of Napoli also.
Many Milanisti called for his signing by the Milan board. An affordable midfielder (his price was widely reported as just €15million) who offers so much in the game and can sit anywhere across the midfield three.
He was comfortably better than any Milan player last night without doing anything spectacular aside from scoring.
Allan breaks up the play, can sit deep, has great positional awareness, a good passing range and is actually a forward threat. He looks like a finished product already, and one that Galliani and co. may have regrettably missed out on.
I wonder how that €30million bid for Axel Witsel looks now.
5. Losing the fans
Over 50,000 supporters were in attendance last night, and there was a great atmosphere before the games adding to the sense of occasion.
The players did not deliver one bit. The bubble was burst; by the end of the game the Curva Sud was reportedly chanting “€100million” and “Thanks Galliani”, showing even they have lost faith.
I’m beginning to believe that the problem is entirely at the top. There is only so many times you can shuffle managers and players until you hit a formula that works, and Milan haven’t come close yet.
How many of the signings this summer were actively put forward by Miha? And how many were thrust upon him by Berlusconi’s agenda?
Bee Tchaubol’s investment may not be enough to save this fallen giant. The signs look ominous.
So, that is what I took from Sunday night’s events.
Sorry it had to be a touch of doom and gloom, but reality is needed in these situations and we really got a dose of it.
Bonaventura was the only relative bright spot. He looked like the only player trying at times.
Torino away is next after the international break, so things do not get easier…