In Milan’s latest Serie A match, the Rossoneri were held to a stalemate to lower table, Carpi, away at the Stadio Alberto Braglia in Modena. In the first half, Milan took a while to settle in, but when they did the finishing just wasn’t there throughout the rest of the match. Alessio Cerci, in particular, would have a match that he would want to forget as he would be seen giving up the ball cheaply much too often and the amount of chances he had in front of goal left much to be desired. As a result, Milan’s big summer signing, Carlos Bacca, would barely have a touch of the ball and not nearly enough chances on goal. The creativity from Milan’s midfield was non-existent. The only source of creativity, on the night, would come through Giacomo Bonaventura and M’Baye Niang on the left side. Though, it still clearly wouldn’t be enough.
Siniša Mihajlović had the following to say after Milan’s disappointing draw against Carpi, via Football Italia:
“We could’ve done better in the first half, but after the break we improved and deserved to win. “We created many scoring opportunities. Carpi closed up well, we needed some creativity and a bit of luck. We should also have been more determined in front of goal. These are games you have to break through. We tried in every way we could think of, but should’ve been more precise. Ultimately we’ve thrown two points away. It’s a pity.”
The draw against Carpi illustrates the necessity that Milan must deliver a strong January mercato, or the Rossoneri could risk missing out on European competition for the third straight season in a row. In truth, a midfield consisting of Juraj Kucka and Riccardo Montolivo is simply not good enough for a club wanting to target a top five finish by the end of the Serie A campaign.
Both struggled to control the play in midfield against Carpi in the first half and as a result, Alessio Romagnoli and Alex were left under siege by quite a few dangerous Carpi attacks. Luckily, Milan’s young starlet, Gianluigi Donnarumma, was alert and made the necessary saves to keep Milan in the game. This hasn’t been the first time either that the U-21 Italian international would need to clean up the mess from a careless midfield and an apprehensive defense.
Adriano Galliani had the following to say before the match against Carpi, via Football Italia:
“We know that to catch up we need to win every game. Our objectives have not changed. It won’t be an easy match, but we will try to win. We have to focus only on our results. Next week there are Juventus-Fiorentina and Napoli-Roma, but if we don’t win this evening then it’s all meaningless. We have a fine squad with 28 players and Boateng will very probably be added to them. If we are able to sell someone, then others could potentially arrived, but it’s a big squad. It’s easy to buy players, but more difficult to sell. Agents telephone you to propose their players, but they don’t ask for them. I don’t want to create any illusions. I am convinced Milan have an important team and with this 4-4-2 system we should also see some return to the line-up, above all Nigel De Jong.”
Galliani’s statements outline the neglect and delusion being shown by the club. He mentions how Milan have a “fine squad” and discusses the potential return of Kevin Prince-Boateng. The other statement Galliani makes about not being selling certain players is true, but, at the same time, we have to ask ourselves: why these players were brought into the club to begin with?
Milan legend, Gianni Rivera, even told La Domenica Sportiva that he views this Milan team as being “mid-table”. He certainly isn’t wrong. Even with the attack that Milan currently has, it won’t change anything with a withered midfield that has been neglected by the management for far too many consecutive seasons now.
The truth of the matter is that the Milan squad isn’t “fine” by any means. It is far from it. The only area that seems to be complete is the attack. Without a strong midfield, Milan’s strikers in Bacca, Niang, and Luiz Adriano are unable to play to their full potential. There just isn’t enough quality in the center of the park to create chances for them. As said before, the only source of creativity in this team has been Bonaventura from the left side, but Jack can’t do it all by himself. Maybe, the returns of Andrea Bertolacci and Nigel De Jong will slightly help improve Milan’s play, but much more is still needed. The potential return of Prince-Boateng certainly isn’t going to solve this matter either. It seems Galliani is back to his routine ways where he tries to find the cheapest solution he can to patch up the holes in the squads. Only, this patch barely covers the entire hole.
Besides the midfield, the Rossoneri also lack in defense and in both wide-midfield positions. Other than Romagnoli and Alex in central defense, the other options just aren’t ideal. The fullbacks are also scarce. Only Luca Antonelli seems to be pulling his own weight. The same can’t be said for Abate and Mattia De Sciglio.
Out wide in midfield is another big issue. Besides Bonaventura for the left-midfield position, there is a major void of options that Mihajlović can deploy in both wide positions. It’s a big concern because the 4-4-2 formation requires these wide players to make the system function correctly. Without a bundle of options to choose from, Mihajlović is in trouble if someone gets injured or starts playing out of form. One case in point is Cerci, who hasn’t done enough to cement a starting spot, but unfortunately he’s one of the only options that is suited to play in the right-midfield position. These are all issues that need to be taken care of before it’s too late.
Without a strong January mercato to improve an inept midfield, a sparse defense, and sporadic options for the wide midfield, Milan will continue to struggle. They simply won’t be able to earn consistent enough results in order to maintain a top five finish by the season’s end. The Serie A table is already extremely competitive at the top with four or five other teams also competing for these spots. If Milan don’t clean up their act soon and attempt to fix the reoccurring midfield woes we continue to see, then it will be another season without Europe. It would be a disaster for the club, the fans, and most importantly Milan’s current image in club football.