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The Search for Consistency


To get consistency, you’ve got to be consistent. And Milan has been anything but. We’ve seen the turnover in the squad, but rarely does anyone take the time to quantify it. So in December, I did. Since then, with one mercato, those numbers have grown to 46 players in and 52 players out since the summer of 2012. That’s more players than Mexes has red cards. More players than Berlusconi has convictions. And more players than the number of times Galliani has eaten at Giannino this week. Maybe. But it’s no wonder that Milan’s squad has spiraled downhill since that point. The coaches and injuries may have impacted results, but the biggest impact is the lack of consistency.

These were 4 of a starting 11 earlier this season. Will any of them be here next season?

On the flip side of that equation, when you find some semblance of consistency in the starting lineup, you do get results. And Sunday was a good example of that. We played one of our better games, and the teamwork and understandings between players were there. As I wrote about in the review, that starting eleven featured more players who had been at the club longer than most if not all of the other lineups this season. And for good measure, there was new blood in the midfield and defense, just like we’ve all been asking to see for so long. But that wasn’t even our current best defense, either. Just different. If you forgot who started, here they are, with the number of years at Milan in parentheses:

Abbiati (14)
Zaccardo (1.5)
Alex (1)
Paletta (.5)
Bocchetti (.5)
Poli (2)
De Jong (3)
Van Ginkel (.5)
Honda (1.5)
Pazzini (3)
El Shaarawy (4)

It takes time to build a team, and even with talent that is not ideal, playing together for a whole season or more makes a huge difference. The more pieces you have with less playing time together, the less consistency you’re going to see in the results. Even with more talented players. We speak of the injuries, the quality of our squad, but one of the biggest factors is Galliani’s non-stop free transfer merry go round. No coach can produce consistency if he is not given a reasonably consistent roster.

The more you know your teammates, the more your teammates know how to help you

The proper way to rebuild is to patiently tinker with the squad, rotating only a few players out at a time. Or if you’re impatient and need to rebuild from scratch, then you clean house like he did in 2012, but then buy for the future. Sure, you need to replace a lot of players, so you do that. But don’t expect results. And don’t keep replacing more than a whole starting eleven each mercato. Even if you made mistakes, some will need to stay on with patience in order to build a team. Gradually, over time, you can get rid of those players and improve on them with better players. But every time you replace more than 3-4 players per mercato, you turn the hourglass over and start the rebuilding process again.

Those transfer wheels are already spinning. When will they stop so the rebuilding can start?

So, with Galliani off shopping at Atleti as I type this, and his promises of a “big” mercato, we have to brace ourselves for year zero again. Because every time he spins the wheel, kicks a bunch of the players out who have more time at Milan and brings in more new (but not necessarily any more talented) players, the rebuilding process starts all over again. Maybe it’s time Galliani stopped his search for free transfers and has-been coaches and players and start the search for consistency.


This post inspired by the music of Muse’s “Mercy”


Our last match of the season is
Atalanta-Milan
Saturday, May 30* • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)
*note the change in date/day