Now that AC Milan and Sinisa Mihajlovic have parted ways, it is time to take a look back at how the club fared during Miha’s short and tumultuous reign.
After a disastrous start to the Serie A season with four losses in the first seven games, it appeared as though Mihajlovic had started to turn things around, stringing together a few wins, introducing Gianluigi Donnarumma as first choice goalkeeper, and seeing his team march to the Coppa Italia final against Juventus. Milan are currently sixth on the ladder with 49 points, appearing set to improve on last season's finish when they ended up tenth on just 52 points.
Milan haven’t done as poorly as they might have with if they had kept Filippo Inzaghi, but they haven’t performed overly well either. They've failed to meet the expectations of most around the team, especially to Silvio Berlusconi, who has, once again, run out of patience with a manager.
The AC Milan merry-go-round of managers continues!
- It took weeks of speculation, rumours and reports, but AC Milan finally signed Alessio Romagnoli, a player with huge potential and could be one of the cornerstones of a new Milan dynasty, alongside Donnarumma, who was promoted by Mihajlovic to first team duties and hasn't relinquished them since. Also brought in were Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano, seen as excellent signings at the time.
- Although he had little choice after Diego Lopez succumbed to injury, establishing Gianluigi Donnarumma as the first choice goalkeeper was a brilliant move. The youngster has performed exceptional and at his age, has many more seasons of brilliance to come. The move was initially met with apprehension, but since then, it has been praised. Mihajlovic's faith in the ability of the youth players coming through was seen as a key to his managerial stint at the club.
- Reaching the Coppa Italia final was a huge accomplishment, even if it does mean the unpleasant task of facing Juventus again. Milan are chasing their first major silverware since 2011, when they won the Serie A and the Supercoppa Italiana. The Coppa Italia progress is a shining light on an otherwise pretty dismal season for such a big club like Milan.
- Throughout January and February, Milan enjoyed a 12-game unbeaten streak, with six wins and four draws in the league, and two wins in the Coppa.
- Losing to Napoli 4-0 at home in October was thought to be the last straw for Mihajlovic, with Berlusconi taking aim at the besieged coach. The international break was a welcome break for the team and saw Sinisa hold on to the top spot.
- Their current sixth-place standing just isn't good enough for a team such as Milan, and with six games left in the season and teams sitting just behind them on the ladder, it was always going to be a tough task for Mihajlovic to see the season out. Sassuolo are just one point behind, and Lazio are three. If Milan continue their dismal form and endure further losses, then they could drop further than they were at the end of last season.
- Mihajlovic implemented 4-4-2 for most of his reign, a system that would become predictable to opposing teams, who could easily snuff out any creativity, thus stopping Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano from receiving much of the ball. A preferred formation over the initial 4-3-3 used by Mihajlovic after his arrival and in years past, the 4-4-2 was the one he stuck with despite .
- Sure, Mihajlovic guided his team to the Coppa Italia final, but it was a relatively easy road to it. Taking on Perugia, Crotone and Sampdoria before beating Carpi in the quarter-finals and Alessandria -- 6-0 on aggregate over two legs -- in the semi-finals, paved the way to a meeting with Juventus. After falling 2-0 to Juve in the regular season last weekend, it isn't looking pretty for the Rossoneri.
AC Milan were mentally weak long before Mihajlovic came in, and while he instilled some pride and honour in the squad, his tactics often fell short of the mark. Too many losses to teams dwelling at the bottom of the ladder didn’t help his cause. A lot of players have fallen well off the mark this season, so it isn't right to blame Mihajlovic for everything that has gone wrong. Unfortunately, that's what Berlusconi does and will continue to do.
It was always going to be tough as coach of Milan, especially so with Silvio Berlusconi watching, and critiquing your every move. The two men rarely saw eye to eye, and although Berlusconi assured everyone that Mihajlovic would be on board until after the Coppa Italia, that clearly wasn’t the case.
No matter who takes charge of Milan, having Berlusconi breathing down your neck and throwing negative remarks around constantly will just push the Rossoneri further into a decline. Mihajlovic was appointed during a rough time for the club and needed some time to rebuild a team that has suffered for over three years, instead, he's now gone before the season has even finished.