Yesterday AC Milan relieved manager Vincenzo Montella of his duties after 15 months in charge. An underwhelming start to the season tainted by six defeats in the first 14 Serie A games and a gap of 18 points with pace-setters Napoli led to this ruthless decision.
The campaign might only be 14 games old, but some pundits and fans will already see this move as overdue.
In a nutshell, many were already stunned from the outset that an ownership group which pumped close to €220m on new players this summer would not also want to select their own boss to nurture such high-profile investment.
By choosing to stick with Montella, they hoped instead to keep a sense of continuity. This continuity, however, was always fantasy.
Yet, it was never going to happen. From last season only Gianluigi Donnarumma, Suso and Alessio Romagnoli still play a central role in Milan’s fortunes. The others have either left like Carlos Bacca and Juray Kucka or were completely frozen out such as Gustavo Gomez, Gabriel Palletta and Ignazio Abate.
Yet, a combination of dire results, a lack of understanding between the players on the pitch and the struggles to get the best out of the majority of the new signings such as Hakan Calhanoglu, Andre Silva and Mateo Musacchio made up sporting directors Marco Fassone and Massimiliano Mirabelli’s mind.
Farewell Montella, welcome back Rino Gattuso, a club legend who boasts two Champions League trophies, two Serie A titles and a World Cup with Italy to his name.
While some might question the appointment of an inexperienced manager like Gattuso for fear of a Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi repeat, others think it was the wisest move possible.
Gattuso was placed in charge of the club until the end of the season with option to carry on if results speak in his favour.
I have spoken to former Milan player Luca Saudati about his former teammate’s return to the club.
The pair played together at AC Milan at the end of the nineties. Thus, Saudati can give us an insight into what Gattuso can bring to the cause. Was it the right choice? Should Milan still appoint Antonio Conte in summer? Was it time for Montella to go?
Are you surprised by the axing of Montella or was it a natural consequence of the dismal results?
It was predictable. The table speaks clearly…
Where has it all gone wrong for Montella?
I think that he’s not the only one responsible. It is also the club’s fault if Milan currently struggle. The transfer market and the high sum the club spent on these new players although they have all disappointed. From day one, Milan’s style of play has never really enthused the fans…
Is Gattuso a risk?
No I do not think so. He does not have a lot of managerial experience and will face the same issues tactically and technically that Montella had. In terms of personality he will surely transmit a thing or two to the squad. So far, the squad has clearly been lacking determination.
How can Gattuso improve Milan?
In terms of footballing ‘nastiness’ and the way they approach the game.
Should things go ‘awry’ would he ruin the great memories he left behind as a player?
Yes, this is a risk he will run. Inzaghi knows something about this. As a manager, Gattuso has a lot to learn…
Who of the new arrivals has disappointed you the most?
Everyone has to be honest with you. However, the most underwhelming ones have been Biglia, Kalinic and Bonucci. Yes, i expected much more from those experienced players…
Is Champions League qualification still within grasp?
No way. The milk is spilled unfortunately. The sides currently making out the top four positions have a better squad than Milan…
Will Gattuso only be a caretaker manager who sees out the season or will he stay beyond?
I really hope that the rumours linking Conte with Milan are founded because he is such a great manager. Should he come, it would also mean that Milan will be embarking on yet another high-spending transfer window. But that said, should Gattuso blossom, why not keep him?
Featured photograph: I3o via Flickr