Milan’s new manager Siniša Mihajlović has not been afraid to voice his opinion on the squad. After the brutal home defeat to Napoli on Sunday, the former Serbia boss was once again critical of his players’ performance.
When the Rossoneri appointed Mihajlović as their new manager this past summer, replacing Pippo Inzaghi, everyone knew what type of coach they were getting: a critical, outspoken personality with a “no nonsense” mentality for the game. Following the 4-0 defeat to the Partenopei, Mihajlović criticized his men on their showing in front of a packed San Siro crowd. Mihajlović, according to Goal.com:
We are weak mentally and there have been too many highs and lows. Perhaps we need [Sigmund] Freud…since I’ve arrived I have been trying to work on the players’ mentality. I have been speaking to them individually and as a group, trying to analyze everything. Clearly it is not that easy…I expected to resolve things earlier, but evidently we have to keep on working.
Keisuke Honda did not play against Napoli on Sunday, but he has played his fair share this season. The Japanese international has featured in 4 matches this season for Milan but has found it difficult to make the adjustments under Mihajlović despite playing in a familiar role behind the strikers.
After hearing the comments made by his manager attacking the players for the inconsistencies, Honda did not hold back from unleashing a bit of criticism of his own. Honda:
I don’t understand that. There is no point in blaming the players. Milan have used countless players over the past few years, and this year €100 million was spent. There are a lot of players who play international football, and they still can’t perform when they join Milan.
Honda makes a valid point here. Yes, the players are the ones who take most of the credit, or blame, for the results on the pitch. However, something can be said about the amount of footballers who play for their country and perform well, but when they return to Milan, it seems as if the glimpse of good form vanishes.
The former CSKA playmaker didn’t stop there. Honda went on to talk about the entire structure of the club, from management and down to the fans across the world.
Looking at the past few years, I think it’s clear this club cannot start over unless a lot of money is spent, like PSG or [Manchester] City…You either do that, or you have to re-examine the structure of the club. Management, coach and fans must be aware of the situation… In order to change the club, we must change how everyone evaluates it, whether it be directors, coach, fans or media. If that doesn’t happen, then five to 10 years are needed.
As Honda mentioned, nearly 100 million euros were spent this summer to revamp the squad and make it once again a competitive team in Serie A, with the intent to make a gradual hike up towards European qualification. The clubs mentioned by Honda are known investors in the mercato, typically spending north of the number Milan spent. As a result, they have been competitive in Europe as well as in their respective leagues, battling for hardware year in and year out. If you think about it financially, Milan perhaps needs to spend north of 150 million euros in order to render an incline towards success.
Finally, Honda, with few words, supported what Milan fans have been saying over the course of the past few seasons without actually saying it. The lack of a stable and quality midfield strong enough to bring fluid play, a non-existent plan for future success and most importantly, a near broken relationship that management has with the supporters. Honda:
I know I will be criticized because of my thoughts, but they are important for the future of this club. Milan’s problems are clear, as they are always the same.
Despite Honda (and many others) underperforming this season, it’s positive to see players coming out and being vocal about their concerns with the overall direction of the club. For the fans, it’s very difficult. Sure, we can take to Twitter and “cyber-pillage” through social media, but it appears that the millions of fans who invest their time, money and life into a club they love unconditionally aren’t being heard. Many appreciate Keisuke Honda using the platform that professional footballers have access to and using it to share with the fans the concerns of the club.
This season, Milan has only played 7 matches and despite the ongoing struggles, sit only 6 points back of Lazio for 3rd place in Serie A which isn’t much when you consider the competitive nature of the Italian football. Hopefully, Honda’s words resonate with the rest of club and we start to see a more rejuvenated Milan side throughout the season.