In their bid to finally break the monopoly that Juventus have had in Serie A over the past six years, last summer saw Milan’s Chinese owners spend an eye-catching amount of money in transfer fees.
Many felt with the acquisitions that were made, we would finally see a different team lifting the Scudetto at the end of this season. Unfortunately, though, those aspirations at the start of the campaign were not met with performances on the pitch, as the Milanese outfit have been left far behind, while the likes of Juventus and Napoli duke it out again in a bid to become champions.
In a season that saw the club sack Vincenzo Montella and replace him with club legend Gennaro Gattuso, it has been one that has taken a while to get going. But now the former Italian midfielder has settled into the San Siro hot seat there is an air of positivity surrounding the club.
Such has been the revival of fortunes after a slow start to the campaign, the 40-year-old who represented his country on no fewer than 73 occasions has recently been awarded a contract extension that will keep him at the San Siro helm until 2021.
Since the arrival of Gattuso, there has certainly been a positive knock-on effect for the players. Two that spring to mind are Leonardo Bonucci and Gianluigi Donnarumma, a point that was made evident when they were recently on international duty.
While Italy will not be travelling to the World Cup, it will come as real encouragement that Donnarumma and Bonucci managed to keep England’s stars quiet, for the most part. The pair effectively shackled an impressive Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a player who, according to Oddschecker, is odds-on to start the Three Lions’ first game of the tournament
These two players have looked assured at the back and between the sticks since the change of managerial personnel took place at the San Siro, and it is fair to say that there has been an element of rejuvenation for the one time giants of Italian football.
Although they may have suffered disappointment after being knocked out of the Europa League Round of 16 stage by Arsenal, that mood would have no doubt been tempered by the fact that they have reached the final of this season’s Coppa Italia.
There, they will take on old foes Juventus as they bid to lift a first domestic trophy since winning the Italian title back in the 2010/11 season. That was the last time that the Turin giants were not league champions.
The 2007 Champions League winners are the definite underdogs going into this game, with current odds at around 9/4. That said, they of all teams know that anything can happen in a one-off fixture such as this.
Especially the manager, as he was one of the Milan players who appeared in the 2005 Champions League final. A tie which saw the Italian outfit eventually lose on penalties to Liverpool, even after going into the half-time break three-nil up.
Should they go on to defeat the Old Lady of Turin, then it would only enhance the fact that the decision to hire Gattuso as manager back in November 2017 has proved to be a shrewd one. But even if they are not successful, there is still reason to be optimistic.
That is because the man who spent just over a season at Ibrox playing for Glasgow Rangers – a spell that still has him revered by fans even to this day – has installed an element of belief in the squad that they certainly did not have in the opening couple of months of the campaign.
The key now is to harness this momentum throughout the final weeks of the season, but more importantly continue it through to the start of the next one. With a full summer of planning and preparation behind them, this Milan side look better set to push Juventus all the way in their pursuit of silverware.
Not only that, with Gattuso being appointed before the turn of the year he has only had one transfer window in which to try and mould his squad into resembling something that he would happily call his own.
With the transfer window soon to re-open, it presents the manager with the perfect opportunity to cast out the players that are not quite up to scratch, while also bringing in the new faces that he feels can help Milan move up the table.
After the expenditure that the club’s hierarchy approved nearly 12 months ago, there may well be an element of hesitancy to do so this time around. However, if they have committed to Gattuso by awarding him a new contract, they also need to give him the required funds in the transfer market.
Should that be the case, this Milan side will undoubtedly be one of the favourites to challenge for the title next season. The San Siro revolution may well have been planned to be fully underway by now but, although there has been a small delay, it looks as if the glory days are not all that far away.
Gattuso is a better finisher than Kalinic. Who would have thought!
Comment:I agree 100%