Pressure Building on Milan Manager Vincenzo Montella

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SHENZHEN, CHINA - JULY 22: Vincenzo Montella coach of AC Milan during the 2017 International Champions Cup China match between FC Bayern Munchen and AC Milan at Universiade Sports Centre Stadium on July 22, 2017 in Shenzhen, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

Milan manager Vincenzo Montella has been under heavy scrutiny lately. The team’s atrocious 4-1 defeat away to Lazio went under the radar thanks to the excuse that the new squad still needed time to gel, but the most recent 2-0 loss away to Sampdoria showed that not much has changed. It seems as if Montella’s ideas and tactics do not fit the players, yet he hasn’t adjusted accordingly.

Team Selection

The most obvious issue is his constant playing Rossoneri star Suso out of position. The 23-year-old is the most creative player in the team and has quickly become one of the best wingers in Serie A. Despite this, he has played as a striker this season. Several lacklustre performances have shown that he doesn’t fit the bill for that position, but he continues to be lined up there. The Spaniard thrives when taking on defenders in one-on-one battles and constantly delivers dangerous crosses to the Milan strikers, of which there are three with enough talent to play on a consistent basis, so Suso should not be thrown into an unfamiliar role.

Remaining on the topic of strikers, Montella has been very stubborn about giving André Silva playing time in Serie A. In fact, Silva has only played a total of 118 minutes in six league matches. Not playing the 21-year-old is counterproductive, as a player will never adjust to a league without actual playing time. He was Milan’s second most expensive transfer this past summer behind Leonardo Bonucci and he has impressed greatly in Europa League fixtures, so one would think it would be time to unleash him into Serie A.

Another one of Montella’s decisions which angered Rossoneri faithful was starting centre-back Cristián Zapata over Mateo Musacchio versus Sampdoria. Musacchio was well-rested and had no injury concerns, so it remains a mystery as to why Montella did not choose the better player in a match versus a worthy opponent. Zapata ended up making several mistakes and gifting Sampdoria goals.

Fabio Borini and Riccardo Montolivo started in far too many matches in the past, despite consistently poor performances, but it seems as though the manager learned from his mistakes on this occasion, as neither has been gifted a starting position for a few matches now.

Substitutions

Montella has not seemed to be able to notice when the team has not been playing well and is in need of a change. For example, he didn’t make any changes when Milan were 2-0 at half-time against Lazio and in desperate need of some extra energy. That decision lead to another two quick goals for Lazio to start the second half as the players on the pitch were obviously struggling. Against Sampdoria, the match was goalless until the 71st minute, and the team had done absolutely nothing in the final third. Montella had weapons on the bench such as Hakan Çalhanoglu, Patrick Cutrone, and André Silva, but did not make any substitutions until his side conceded, by which time it was too late to secure three points.

Milan are only six league games into the season and the idea of sacking Montella has already emerged. Although this is not likely to happen just yet as it is still early and the market of available quality managers is quite dry, he has a tough stretch of games during the next month to prove his worth and secure his job with the Rossoneri.

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