Even though the Rossoneri lost their first match of the season in a disastrous manner, there is still every reason to believe in Gennaro Gattuso and his project with the squad.
Since his arrival, the signings that were made last summer have stepped up significantly in terms of their performances, as well as the whole squad. This, along with a good tactical awareness, led to Milan collecting 39 points in the second half of last season, with only Napoli and Juventus grabbing more.
Therefore, there was (and still is) a lot of hope heading into the new season. Unfortunately, though, Gattuso’s men lost a two-goal lead away at Napoli, eventually losing 3-2. This defeat has led to a heated debate among fans, with many of them (naively so) calling for Gattuso’s exit.
In my opinion, however, Gennaro Gattuso is the best manager that Milan have had since Max Allegri, even though he’s relatively inexperienced. Unlike any of his forerunners, it seems that the 40-year-old has actually managed to drill the players with his idea and philosophy.
In addition to this, the former midfielder has taken on the ‘no bullshit’ approach, which is much appreciated by Milan fans, given that Vincenzo Montella’s favourite phrase after a defeat was ‘we will improve’, without really giving any insight as to what went wrong. This was showcased after the Napoli game, when Gattuso took full responsibility for a substitution that backfired.
“Biglia? It was my mistake to replace him with Bakayoko. It was too rushed on my part. I made a mistake and paid the consequences. We have to stay in the game, we need to improve the interpretation. We looked like a team for only 60 minutes,” the manager stated.
The players have previously praised Gattuso for his way of coaching, admitting that he says things as they are, face-to-face. This seems to have created a very favourable environment at Milanello, with the players looking more united than ever. AC Milan legend Andriy Shevchenko believes that the arrival of his former teammate has changed the face of the Rossoneri.
“When Rino came, the mentality of the players really changed. Milan are starting to look like the Milan of the old days. They are compact and aggressive and very angry about the win,” the former striker stated.
Against Roma this evening, Milan will have a great chance to bounce back and win back some of the worrying fans. As noted before, however, it must be stressed that Napoli away is one of the most difficult games of the season, which the Rossoneri nearly handled in a great way.
With that said, the return of Hakan Calhanoglu will certainly enable Gattuso to really exploit the team’s bright spots. The Turk International is an important player for Milan in the build-up phase, as he usually drops down to offer Biglia some much-needed support. Furthermore, he will be crucial to offer more space to the likes of Higuain and Suso, with Roma’s defence having to fight against another danger at the back.
In conclusion, the first game of the season, which happened to be against a very strong Napoli side, shouldn’t be used as an argument to call for Gattuso’s exit. If anything, it’s an important lesson for the Rossoneri’s system early on, which allows the players to modify the flaws before any more harm is done.
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