AC Milan have signed former Inter Milan, Fiorentina and Lazio manager Stefano Pioli to replace Marco Giampaolo after only seven games in charge. Here’s our review of the new manager and the coaching style he brings to Milan:
Pioli’s coaching career in numbers pic.twitter.com/WFdqCvAdTM— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) October 9, 2019
The first thing to know about Pioli and to be wary of is his rabid inconsistency. When he managed Inter a few years ago, he won 12 of his first 16 games in Serie A prior to a terrible run of form where Inter failed to win a single match in the final 7 games of the season. When he coached Lazio to a third place finish in 2014/15, his side won key games but had multiple runs of losses to small teams such as Empoli, Cesena and Genoa that cost them a direct Champions League spot by a single point. In his second season at Lazio, he had a run of 7 games when his side failed to win around November. In his first season with Fiorentina, he managed a respectable 8th place finish but this included a 15 game span that his side only managed 3 wins between October and February. The final season at Fiorentina last season was in shambles as he had two terrible runs where the side failed to win in 7 games. The picture I am trying to paint, is that Milan fans need to be ready for a potential terrible run at some point during the season akin to the frustrating spells under Gattuso in December and March-April.
Pioli throwing shade at Giampaolo pic.twitter.com/REg4yfQZLo— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) October 9, 2019
Dirty Play and Going All In
Pioli was very clear in his opening press conference with his new motto that is just to win. This lines up perfectly with the play his sides has displayed over the past five season where it is dirty play, man marking, high pressing and forcing errors to overpower the opposition in their own half. Pioli plays an attacking brand of football aimed at making the most out of quick wingers or wingbacks to continously bombard the opponents box and to score off second balls, deflections and rebounds as much as actual plays. Pioli’s personality is another reflection of the mindset as he is constantly pushing his players to do better and to make the necessary sacrifices to win. He never hides from taking responsibility and knows how to get his players to rally behind his cause. I would be expecting too many clean sheets under Pioli as he tends to throw everything behind the attack and hopes for his sides to outscore the opposition. The high press will often leave Milan vulnerable at the back and this tends to require the midfielders to make tactical fouls to stop an potential counters, so expect Kessie, Biglia and Paqueta to rack up bookings. Overall, it will be intense play under Pioli that will look messy but will keep the games at a high tempo with Milan constantly going for goal.
If Pioli can energize this sad-sack bunch and get Milan to play fundamental football - chasing every second ball, defending in numbers, playing simple passes - then maybe he will have success. Tactics can come later. Forza Milan.— Anthony Lopopolo (@sportscaddy) October 18, 2019
One thing to look forward to in Pioli’s man management. Pioli knows how to get the best out of his players and this may be a reason for his appointment as he is flexible with his tactics but focuses more on the management of the individuals and getting them to shine. At Lazio, he revived Miroslav Klose to get him firing on all cylinders to become a truly terrifying striker in the league and launched Stefan de Vrij into the solid centre-back he is today as well as developing Milinkovic-Savic and Keita Balde. At Inter, he got Perisic and Icardi to gel bringing the best out of the duo and finding space for Eder to score lots of late goals. At Fiorentina, he showed a knack for developing youth players getting the likes of Giovanni Simeone, Federico Chiesa and Nikola Milenkovic putting into consistently good performances. But perhaps the biggest chip in his pocket is the way in which he handled the tragic passing of former Fiorentina Captain Davide Astori in 2017/18. Pioli handled the situation with grace and paid the respect to his captain and got the team to do the departed friend proud. In my opinion, this in itself speaks volumes of his relationships with his players and the atmosphere he creates in the dressing room.
Pioli's first 7 games at Milan: Lecce (H), Roma (A), SPAL (H), Lazio (H), Juventus (A), Napoli (H) and Parma (A). pic.twitter.com/aPJUqh5PPB— Meytar Zeevi (@RossoneriBlog) October 8, 2019
He opened for Lazio with 6 wins, 1 draw and 3 losses in his opening 10 games and finished the season in 3rd place. He also took Lazio to the Coppa Italia final where they lost 2-1 to Juventus. He opened for Inter with 8 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss in his opening 10 games. He then opened for Fiorentina with 5 wins, 1 draw and 4 losses in his opening 10 games but finished 8th with them. In each of his past four starts as a manager in the league he has switched up the teams brand of football to a more attacking outlet and has produced big wins. His systems to be vulnerable and his inconsistency tends to kick in but Milan should expect a generally positive start from Pioli despite the daunting task ahead that includes Roma, Lazio, Juventus and Napoli in his first seven games. One important thing to look out for is Pioli style of identifying his starters and cutting off the dead weight. In every role he has taken up, he spends the first 10 or so games makes slight changes and experimenting to find his top players and thereafter shuns the players who are simply not good enough. Hence, I am hoping to see players like Calhanolgu and Borini confined to the bench.
Probable starting XI's for Milan-Lecce (Sunday, 20:45 CEST at Stadio San Siro) according to La Gazzetta dello Sport. pic.twitter.com/dcP4hKppP0— Meytar Zeevi (@RossoneriBlog) October 19, 2019
Pioli’s brand of 4-3-3 is slightly different to what Milan fans will be used to under Montella, Gattuso and Giampaolo. Pioli’s 4-3-3 will not be possession based but will consist of quick short passes and more crosses. His formation calls for high pressing and man marking with Milan effectively adopting a 3-4-3 in attack with the CDM slipping between the centre backs and the wing backs joining the midfielder. His line up will require explosive pace from the wing backs and the wingers to attack the wings. The midfielders will handle the bulk of the defensive work in the opponents hald and the two mezzallas will have the responsibility of making late runs into the box to add pressure during attacks. The team will form diamonds throughout the pitch to find passing lanes and will rely on the striker to make intelligent runs anticipating potential through balls. The role of Paqueta/Calhanoglu will be key as one attack minded midfielder usually occupies the role of breaking through the lines when the team attacks the middle and will need the striker to be able to finish clinically using minimal touches. As previously mentioned, these tactics are expected but will be flexible to adapt to the players occupying the relevant positions.
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