The question that can not escape the red and black of Milan has resurfaced once again: “Is (insert coach name here) the right man for the job?”
With the departure of Massimiliano Allegri in 2014, it’s no surprise that Milan have experienced a lack of leadership as well as a fall from grace. Their roller coaster of appointed managers within the past couple of years include Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Cristian Brocchi, and lastly, Vincenzo Montella.
Now, in terms of who occupies the technical area, Milan have come to the conclusion Gennaro Gattuso will see the club to its former glory. But realistically, isn’t that what they and we all thought Seedorf, Inzaghi, and Brocchi were going to do?
Throughout his playing career, there is no question Gattuso wanted to win and at any cost. The man from Calabria sacrificed mind, body, and soul for every loose ball in the midfield as well as the badge on his chest. Realistically, the last of his kind in terms of defensive midfielders, Gattuso was a sight to watch. But his playing days are over and it can be difficult to duplicate that type of energy and passion from the other side of the touchline. Other than heart, passion, and the desire to win every 50/50 ball, what does Gattuso bring to Milan? Tactically, is he any better than his predecessors Montella or Mihajlovic?
Only having been a coach since 2013, Gattuso lacks the tactics and technical knowledge of Milan greats like Capello and Ancelotti, but that’s only half the equation.
His first appointment came in the form of a ‘player-manager’ at Swiss side Sion. A desperate attempt to change the team tempo and culture on the field resulted in a sack after only twelve games. His next job was not for the faint of heart as he entered the hangman, Maurizio Zamparini’s territory. After Palermo, Gattuso would appear in Greece with OFI Crete. His sixth month appearance ended as soon as it began as he was constantly criticized by the media and unable to be paid due to the club’s growing financial problems. Before joining the Milan Primavera side, Gattuso finally found success with Pisa. He would go on to coach the team for a year-and-a-half, leading them to Serie B promotion through a playoff.
In the end, Gattuso is a motivator. When all else fails, his team will be ready to battle in any given scenario. Despite being behind in terms of which tactics to use in which scenarios, Gattuso is no stranger to the sideline and what it entails.
Although his managerial record displays more draws and losses than wins, Gattuso has certainly had his face rubbed in the dirt and learned from it. If his managerial career is anything like his playing style, the man from Calabria will never allow his team to give up in the face of adversity. If he is unable to bring wins and championships, at the very least, he will hopefully be able to teach his players how to play with heart, desire, and aggression.
Worst case scenario, if Gattuso fails to finish in a desirable Europa or Champions League spot, does he deserve the boot? If so, what is next for Milan?
If Gattuso fails to compete with the likes of Juventus, Roma, Inter and drops points to teams towards the bottom of the table, he deserves to be released. Unless players are specifically to blame, Gattuso and possibly others involved within the club should be let go.
At this point, how much more talent can you fit on the field? Buffon’s successor for Italy, a proven center-back leading your defensive line, the next Portuguese superstar, the list goes on. If Milan fail to finish within the top five, they must look internally. A suggestion that may not be too far from reach would be to call back former players. Players such as Maldini, Pirlo, Ambrosini, Nesta, Shevchenko and many more, who were part of so many successful memories in the 90’s and early 2000’s, could be asked to come back and hold board/chairmen positions. If nothing changes, Milan risk being part of the never ending coaching carousel they have found themselves in since 2014.