Milan sack Giampaolo and hire Pioli

Despite Saturday’s chaotic win over Genoa, the Milan officials have elected to axe Marco Giampaolo and appoint Stefano Pioli after an underwhelming start of the season, which saw them collect three wins and four losses, against Udinese, Inter, Torino and Fiorentina. They are currently 13th in the table. The new boss has agreed to a two-year contract.

Pioli most recently coached Fiorentina for almost two seasons, as he resigned last April and then the team went into a downward spiral under Vincenzo Montella. He had led them to an eight-placed finish the year before. He has been in a similar situation before, as he took over Inter in November 2016 after the firing of Frank De Boer: he collected 12 wins, three ties and eight losses and was sacked in May. He managed a number of clubs over his career, most notably Bologna and Lazio, and had the most success with the Biancocelesti, closing the 2014/2015 campaign in the third spot.

Even in their victories, the other two against Brescia and Verona, the Rossoneri never really played a convincing brand of football and Giampaolo has not been able to display the same style he had at Sampdoria. At first, he insisted with his go-to tactic, 4-3-1-2, with Suso and Samu Castillejo adapted as no.10 and second-striker. He recently switched to a trident that is best suited for the men he has at his disposal, but their play remained lacklustre to say the least.

Like under Gennaro Gattuso, the Devil is having a lot of troubles keeping the ball up front and feeding Krzysztof Piatek in a consistent and dangerous way and the Polish striker, who has been subpar of his own, has scored just twice on penalties so far. Similarly from the past, they are too dependant on the plays of Suso, while other mainstays like Hakan Calhanoglu and Frank Kessie have not brought much to the table and Lucas Paqueta has not received consistent playing time.

Giampaolo, who comes off as an intransigent coach, also reportedly butted heads with the management over the insufficient use of the newcomers. Two of them, Rafael Leao and Theo Hernandez, have been bright spots so far, adding some energy and quality to their offense, instead Ismael Bennacer has struggled to overtake Lucas Biglia in the pecking order and Rade Krunic and Leo Duarte have played sparingly. Pioli is pretty versatile tactically-speaking: 4-3-3 is arguably the most apt for their roster and could continue to be deployed, although other, not so different options, could be on the table as well.

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