Rossoneri Recapture: How Can AC Milan Reclaim Their Throne?

Seven European cups, 18 Scuddetos, five Coppa Italias, AC Milan are one of the biggest club sides in the world, a dominating powerhouse of football – with some of the biggest names in the game having pulled on the famous red and black stripes.

During this current decade, however, it has been a very different Milan side taking to the pitch at the San Siro. No league title since 2011, and no Champions League qualification since 2013. The state of AC Milan was at its lowest since the match-fixing scandal of 2006, but things appeared to take a turn for the better.

Chinese investors purchased 99.93% of AC Milan – €520million – as well as the refurbishment of financial debt, totalling €220million. And from here, Milan kicked on, and over the course of the 2017 summer transfer window they spent £175 million on new players; spending more money then any other Italian side and the total was only topped across Europe by Paris Saint-Germain.

Italian centre-back Leonardo Bonucci, highly sort after full-back Ricardo Rodriguez and a forward with the world at his feet in Andre Silva; Milan had strengthened massively. Manager Vincento Montella had a huge selection of new players to improve his side throughout and potentially push for the title. After two wins from their first two games, however, Milan fell 4-1 to Lazio and since then it’s been nothing short of underwhelming from big spending AC Milan. Just 12 points from their first seven games places Milan in seventh position – nine points from the top.

After the huge investment, Milan have failed to capture the imagination of their fans. How has it gone so wrong? And what can be done to bring the famous red half of Milan back to providence?

Milan’s £175 million went on 11 new players this summer, with the majority expecting first-team football. This immediately presented a problem for Montella as he now faced the task of fitting the new additions into his system in a very short space of time.

This may be one of the nicer problems for a manager to have, but that doesn’t change the fact that it can take time for players to adapt to a new team, and a new league entirely for a number of the signings. Spurs proved that in 2013 when they spent the world-record fee they received for Gareth Bale on seven new players, only two of which are still at the club after the other five failed to settle in at White Hart Lane.

The Italian way of defending is long gone for AC Milan, who have registered just two clean sheets from their first seven league games – conceding ten goals in this time. This comes after assembling an almost entirely new defence in the summer.

So far in this campaign Milan have deployed a three centre-back system, with Fabio Borini and Ricardo Rodriguez acting as wing backs. Neither Borini or Rodriguez are natural wing-backs, with lung-busting pace who can get up and down the flanks. A very solid full-back Rodriguez proved to be during his time in Germany; but rarely an attacking one. Borini on the other hand – a striker by trade, often used as a wide midfielder, being played as a wing-back is just asking for trouble – an example of where the man in charge has got his tactics completely wrong.

Transitioning from defence into attack, and once again Milan’s huge investments failing to pay off. Hakan Çalhanoğlu signed for £20million, seen by many as a bargain for a midfielder with bags of potential. Playing mainly as one of three central midfielders, the Turk is not having the impact on the game you would expect to see.

Ahead of Çalhanoğlu is Portuguese forward Andre Silva; after picking up a knock at the start of the season, manager Montella has been hesitant to play the young striker, causing the Milan fans to question the decision-making. When Silva has played, however – despite being prolific in Europe and on the international stage – in his first two league outings, he has struggled to get into the game. Managing only three shots across the two games and failing to score.

Wide man Suso has been Milan’s shining light so far – with two goals and two assists. The Spaniard, however, found himself out of the team for Milan’s 2-0 home defeat to Roma, in place of another of the new signings. A very questionable decision by the manager, and one that has cost his side. Much like the decision to deploy two non-wing-backs as wing-backs, Vincenzo Montella has a lot to answer for.

Despite spending huge amounts of money in the summer, Milan look no better now then they did 12 months ago. This time last year Milan sat third in the table – just two points behind leaders Juventus.

Milan had conceded 11 league goals at the close of October, last season, but coming into October this time, they’ve already let in 10 goals; the defence may have improved on paper, but not in practice. They have the players, they have the financial backing but there is still something missing. The answer could be, not the personnel coming in, but one man in particular going out.

Vincenzo Montella has his tactics all wrong this season, right from the very first game. Particularity defensively, the insistence on playing the new signings appears to have cost Milan. Before a relationship was built between defenders – Bonucci, Rodriguez, Musacchio and Borini were all thrown in; and have been almost ever present since – a rotating fifth defender comes in and Milan look a mess at the back against the bigger sides, with Roma, Lazio and Sampdoria all finding it far too easy to infiltrate Milan’s back line.

So Montella’s tactics have cost his side, a change has to be made if Milan are to take advantage of the situation they find themselves in. All the money in the world and a squad full of talent, who can be trusted to handle it? A Milan legend.

Carlo Ancelotti.

The Italian is the only manager in history to win three UEFA Champions Leagues – two of which were during his previous stint at the San Siro. Recently fired by Bayern Munich, the rumours are already flying. Ancelotti to Milan, one of the most successful managers in Milan’s history, coming in to lead the side to glory.

The Italian giants have already reportedly made contact with Ancelotti, and both the man himself and Vincent Montella have commented on the potential return. Montella joked in a press conference that the three-time European champion could be his No.2 at Milan; while Carlo mentioned a job share.

No official comment has been made from either party, with the board appearing to have Montella’s full backing. But as the pressure continues to grow on the man in charge, it could be a case of no smoke without fire.

A lot needs to be done to save Milan’s season already, but there are very few managers in world football with a track record like Ancelotti’s. A new manager is often what a side needs to find their form. History tells us major shift in surroundings often allows players to find an extra gear. With a man like Carlo Ancelotti at the helm for any club, success is almost a given. Taking back over at the club where he achieved his greatest successes as a manager, it is almost too good to be true.

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