After 12 games of the current Serie A season, Milan find themselves in unwanted territory in the league standings. After a tough start to the season, which saw former manager Marco Giampaolo replaced by Stefano Pioli, the Rossoneri have it all to do to make something reasonable of the current campaign.
Four losses out of their first six Serie A games meant Milan were having their worst start to a season in eight decades – dating back to the 1938/39 season.
Under Pioli, Milan have faced the same struggle for points as they have amassed only four points out of a possible 15 since his first game in charge against Leece (Skysports).
Despite the same poor results under Pioli, there have been significant positives on the pitch for the Rossoneri squad. Ones that suggest a lifeline is still on the cards for Milan to salvage something from the current season.
Since Pioli’s appointment, the Milan side have played with more intensity, urgency and look to have a “game-plan” compared to Giampaolo’s regime. Pioli has also given more game time to summer signings with the likes of Leo Duarte, Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer, the names that come to mind in that regard.
Elsewhere, players like Suso, Hakan Calhanoglu and Lucas Paqueta seem to be getting their stride under new management and there is nothing to suggest they won’t get any better with each passing game in the course of the season.
The need for better results and a change of approach is already quite evident for Milan. That which remains to be seen is what Milan can make of the current season and if they have the right resources to do so. It’s scary that Milan currently lie in 14th place, just four points off the drop-zone and have already suffered seven losses this season. Putting that into perspective, the Rossoneri lost only eight games the whole of last season (Skysports).
Realistic target for Pioli and Milan this season
19 points off first place Juventus and six points behind seventh-place Napoli, It would be realistic to think that the top four is well out of reach for the Rossoneri bar unforeseen events happening in the top four race and Milan maintaining some consistency of their own. However, the Europa League spots, sixth, and in a possible scenario, seventh place as well is still well achievable.
In the event that Juve win the Coppa Italia (which is not a far fetched claim), the seventh-placed side gets the nod for the Europa League spot. It’s rather poetic that the Rossoneri face Napoli after the break and could use that fixture to kick-start their resurgence under Pioli’s era.
Milan’s availability to feature in the Europa League resumes next year as the one-year-ban from the competition after a breach of FFP rules will be over by the end of the season. It would be befitting for the team to mark that bail with a return to the competition itself.
After the Napoli clash, Milan have a friendly run of fixtures (on paper) and there is all expectancy for Pioli and company to rack up more points going into the second half of the season.
Also, based on reports from Tuttosport (via MilanNews), the Milan hierarchy have expressed their willingness to make some moves in the January window and some reinforcements can be expected once the transfer window opens it’s desperate doors open. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Granit Xhaka, Lucas Torreira and Nahitan Nandez are among the players linked with a January move to Milan so far.
If Milan can start getting some wins after the international break and scrap out draws on occasions when they don’t win, a top seven berth is still well on the cards for Pioli. The 54-year-old Italian surely needs time in his own vein to be judged as a success or not but if he can get Milan as high as seventh place after the torrid start to the season, it would still be seen as a huge positive.
With some new faces expected in January, coupled with improving performances on the pitch, ample time is still left for Pioli to heal the Milan squad from their early-season woes.