Where has it all gone wrong for AC Milan? Ever since parting ways with Massimiliano Allegri in January 2014, fans of the Rossoneri have become accustomed to a style of football from the side which they are far from used to.
A 1-0 derby defeat to fierce rivals Inter leaves them 12th on the Serie A ladder with only one win in their opening three games. Although the scoreline suggests their defeat on Sunday was a tight affair, that was far from the case, as Inter were in control for the majority of the game and dominated the possession. The question has to be asked, is Sinisa Mihalovic’s side good enough to challenge the best in Serie A and compete on the European stage again? Many would argue that the current setup lacks the quality needed to complete with Italy’s best, but with a range of new signings finding their feet in the squad, there is plenty of time for the former European champions to make their mark.
Recent form suggests Milan are destined for another season of misery and disappointment, however, both their defeats have come against two heavyweights of the league. Their opening 2-0 loss to Fiorentina away from home was a result against a side who finished fourth in the 2014-15 season, while the result in the derby overshadowed the previous week’s 2-1 home win over Empoli.
Fans have reason to be optimistic. With a new manager and an array of new signings, all of whom are talented enough to make their mark in Serie A, Milan can string a few surprises this season.
Loaning out Stephan El Shaarawy was a move that received mixed reviews, however, it has made room for a new forward line capable of terrorizing every defence in the league. With the additions of Mario Balotelli, Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano, Milan made a real statement of intent in the summer. Former Sevilla striker Bacca was reportedly a major transfer target for Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United, following an impressive run for his Spanish side where they won the Europa League for the second consecutive season. With his presence up-front, Milan will be keen to provide the Columbian with the service he needs for success.
The same applies for Brazilian forward Luiz Adriano, also joining Milan in the summer for €8 million. It is clear Milan have invested heavily into the attacking department of the side with the hope that their new marquee signings can fire them up the Serie A ladder this season, however, their opening three matches suggest they are lacking the service required to get the goals they need.
In their opening three league games, Milan failed to seize control of possession, also recording less shots then their opposition. There were days not too long ago where the Rossoneri were one of the most feared in Europe, a side who took control of their opponents and opened them up in a tactically smart and entertaining way for their supporters. To gain that respect and admiration back from their fans, Sinisa Mihalovic will need to put forward a philosophy content on attacking football.
It is far too early to write Milan out of contention for a top four spot just yet with the quality they have within the squad and a win against Palermo at home in front of their fans can kick-start their campaign into full gear.
Returning forward Balotelli came on as a substitute in the 62nd minute against Inter and immediately lifted the side. His positive inclusion in the game prompted may pundits to ask the question as to whether the old Balotelli is back. Denied only by the post in what would have been a beautifully struck equalizing goal, as well another excellent long distance shot to force a smart save from Samir Handanovic, Balotelli showed just what he is still capable of. Sadly known for his off-field antics rather than his footballing ability, the Italian international has a point to prove and his inclusion in the side can inspire Milan to the three points on match day. A start for the fiery forward will re-invigorate the Rossoneri and provide that spark they have lacked since he left for Liverpool last season.
While Sinisa Mihalovic looks set to be given time to rebuild the club and put together his own squad, a positive season is by no means out of the cards. With two tricky away games against Udinese and Genoa to follow the Palermo clash, as well as an away trip to Napoli, Mihalovic will be eager to put out a side on the weekend eager and willing to do everything possible to get the three points.