Trying to build something on rocky foundations is always going to be difficult, and that is exactly the situation Vincenzo Montella finds himself in - trying to build an AC Milan team that is rooted in instability.
Stability proved to be the difference today - Napoli, a structured, beautiful footballing team played a game of football, while Milan spent 90 minutes chasing the Naples side. Napoli, a team with style, ability and flair, where able to pin Milan down without any kind of struggle - they looked fluid.
Milan, on the other hand, never looked truly comfortable in a game where individual quality shone through. Milan’s quality is forced, through players like Montolivo, Silva, Bonucci, Donnarumma and others trying to drag the team to victory, while Napoli’s style and lineup only serves to bolster the effectiveness of players like Hamsik, Mertens and Insigne, the latter scoring the opening goal today.
Milan regressed after Insigne’s goal was awarded by the VAR system - and failed to effectively fight back in a meaningful manner. Any forward play was extinguished, with Napoli’s offense proving to be a better defense - as Zielinski bagged the second goal of the night.
Again, the story of individual quality proved to be the narrative thread in this game, with a goal pulling Milan back into the mixer. Romagnoli’s long-range volley brought Milan back into the game, and in the dying seconds, the Rossoneri capped the story of the game off with a wasted free-kick, that missed even the gangly Gigo Donnarumma in the box. Milan - who fell to Napoli 2-1 tonight, will rue their lack of quality, but surely cannot question their desire to win games. They will need to dig deep for the answers needed to curb this current slump.
The problems for Milan are seemingly unending, but no solution is clear - if Montella is relieved, does the whole team succeed on the back of that? After watching today, the path to improvement for Milan will need to be based on the back of the success of a deployed and established system - because we all saw the results of what happens when a team finds its identity, and style; it makes them too good to be true, and too hard for teams like Milan to beat.