Despite being gifted 90 million euros in additions this summer, Sinisa Mihajlovic's first AC Milan squad has gotten off to a disappointing start. Dropping two points to Carpi (two points that Milan really couldn't afford to lose) has put Mihajlovic on the hot seat once again. Sitting below Sassuolo and Atalanta in the table and drawing a team that started Cristian Zaccardo are unacceptable realities, but Mihajlovic is not the problem with this team, and he deserves time to show that he is the right man for the job.
Milan has tried to solve its problems by firing three managers in the last two seasons. Massimiliano Allegri was alleged to have lost the team, so he was sacked and replaced with Clarence Seedorf. Seedorf's Milan ended the season on a positive run of form, and there was optimism Milan had appointed the right man to lead the Rossoneri forward. But rumors emerged of dissent between Seedorf and management, and Seedorf was replaced by Filippo Inzaghi. Inzaghi was dubbed "Milan's Alex Ferguson" according to CEO Adriano Galliani. Manchester United's Alex Ferguson lasted 26 seasons, but Milan's Alex Ferguson only lasted one nightmarish season, as Inzaghi was mercifully sacked this past summer and replaced with Mihajlovic.
After three seasons of free transfers, Milan finally spent some money and brought in quality players like Alessio Romagnoli, Carlos Bacca, and Luiz Adriano. Naturally, with an investment of that size, expectations were high heading into the season, and when Milan failed to beat clubs like Genoa, Atalanta, and Carpi, fingers were pointed at Mihajlovic. While Mihajlovic surely deserves some of the blame for Milan's lacklustre performances this term, he has to be given enough time to make his presence felt.
The squad that Mihajlovic inherited was completely rotten, and it was crippled by three years of virtually no investment in the transfer market. Spending 90 million in one transfer window is not going to transform an eighth-place team into a top-three team, especially in a Serie A this competitive. String together two or three big windows, and expectations should be sky high, but one big market after three absentee years is hardly adequate. Moreover, Mihajlovic has only been at the helm for 15 Serie A games. He is still getting to know his players, and they are still getting to know him. Fifteen games is a small sample size in the grand scheme of things.
There are also some encouraging trends to consider when discussing Mihajlovic's future. In its last eight games Milan has only conceded five goals, and are starting to look defensively competent for the first time since Thiago Silva and Alessandro Nesta departed the club in 2012. Mihajlovic's defensive record at Sampdoria was a main reason he got the Milan job, and his expertise in the defensive phase is becoming evident at Milan. In addition, young players like Gianluigi Donnarumma, M'Baye Niang and Alessio Romagnoli are getting regular starts and are developing into quality players. The fact Mihajlovic is willing to give young players important minutes is extremely promising, and something we haven't seen from Milan's managers in the recent past.
If the last few seasons have taught us anything, it's that firing the manager is not a magic fix. Milan has systemic flaws that need to be properly addressed over a long period of time, firing a manager or spending big in one window won't solve anything. In order for Milan to consistently improve, the financial commitment has to be there on a consistent basis, and the manager must be given ample time to employ his style and methods. There have been enough bright spots to justify giving Mihajlovic time to see this project through, but sooner than later the results must come.