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Sampdoria 0, Milan 1: Naiveté


It was beyond naïve for Berlusconi to think that changing a coach at this point in the season could significantly change our fortunes. But the scoreline proves him right, doesn’t it? No, no it doesn't. Not for anyone who watched Milan take on Juve last week. Mihajlovic’s Milan would have likely had a bigger goal differential today, for example. Berlusconi insists that Milan were playing so badly under Mihajlovic. Does he really believe that this team played better today? In fact, with his tactics and lineups that he fed to the obedient Brocchi, Milan played worse today, even if it was obvious they haven’t forgotten everything Mihajlovic taught them just yet. But at this point in the season, for Berlusconi or Brocchi to take credit for anything is simply naïve.

Finally a goal, even if it was also controversial

Let’s just start with the formation and lineups. If I had a nickel for every time Berlusconi “suggested” to a coach that he play a 4-3-1-2, I’d have more money than the President himself. And the idea for Bonaventura at trequartista was also his, too. Which is odd, when Honda is a natural trequartista, and has been beasting it lately, even playing out of position. But he’s not Italian, and neither was Mihajlovic, so I’m pretty sure you can see where this is heading. Even Bacca, Alex, and Kucka will be replaced as soon as possible with Italian players, I’m sure, even if they are lower quality players.

Brocchi mentioned in his press conference that there was probably a reason that Mihajlovic didn’t play the 4-3-1-2, but he was going to do it anyway. There is a reason he didn’t play it. The 4-3-1-2 is typically played as a diamond midfield, and we have lumps of coal for our midfielders. It’s like starting on nine men when two of your four midfielders are named Montolivo and Bertolacci. The more narrow shape of the system is meant to create a more forward, attacking formation, but the problem at Milan has always been that it also leaves our back four more exposed to counter attacks. And despite having a much better defense now, there’s no reason to tempt fate and put them under siege.

He's very good, but don't leave him too exposed or it will come back to haunt you

For example, today Sampdoria got 10 shots off, three of them on goal. (Milan had 14 shots, three on goal.) That’s a lot of shots for a 15th place team. And that included Dodo’s goal that was called off in the 25th for offside, and questionably so. When the ball was sent in, Dodo was onside. But Quagliarella tried to head it. If he touched it, then Dodo was offside at that point. If he didn’t, then the goal should have stood. After looking at replays, it looks like it was wrongfully called back, which means that Valeri deserves more credit for Milan’s win than Brocchi. And also that Quagliarella should not keep telling everyone he didn’t touch the ball, because that was an embarrassing whiff if he didn’t. But as much as Sampdoria are furious, let’s be fair, that was a really tough one to call, even with the advantage of slow motion video replay that we as fans have.

In addition to what I feel is not an effective system for us, Milan played very frantic and hectic today. As if their jobs, too, were on the line. They were much less organized than Mihajlovic’ team, even on some of their bad days. Bertolacci’s contribution was getting beat up, and I’m still looking for Montolivo’s contribution. Bonaventura, who has literally been a Jack of all trades this season, is not the trequartista that Brocchi seemed to hope he was. Most people look at the trequartista position simply from an attacking point of view, to link up the midfield and attack, but some of the most important things they do are defensive, actually. Like closing down the opposition central midfielder to prevent them from distributing the ball. As good as Bonaventura is, he has a lot to learn about that.

Don't get too excited, Mister. Not every ref will be on Berlusconi's payroll

Which brings me back to one of my original points about the poor play: Brocchi left Honda out of the lineup completely. Even subbing on Boateng for the last five minutes instead. Honda’s natural position is trequartista, and he is known for his defensive work. Imagine if Bonaventura had played on the left, where he’s played best this season, Bertolacci was benched, as he should be, and Honda had been trequartista? I mean that’s kind of a no-brainer lineup if you’ve watched the whole season. I have no idea why anyone would do anything different, except Silvio. But given his orange skin and worse hair dye job, as well as his many, many poor, even criminal, life choices, it shouldn’t surprise.

Our attack has been a conundrum all year, and dictated more by injuries than anything else. I’m not sure Balotelli and Bacca are a great pairing, even if both individually are great players. Both strikers had their chances this time, and Viviano’s saves were excellent. But it was Bacca who broke the deadlock in the 71st, from a cross by Bonaventura. 1-0 Milan. Even this was a bit controversial, though, as Dodo went down well before the shot, with Kucka being the player in question. Replays make it look like Kucka got all ball, or at least ball first, but Dodo’s reaction was either well-rehearsed or genuine, or maybe a little of both. At any rate, the foul was not given, the goal stood, and Milan got the three points. Thank you again, Valeri. It also helped fans forgive Bacca for the failed rabona attempt in the 63rd. See, Mihajlovic put the fear of god into Bacca to score those or not try them at all. Now that he’s gone, apparently we’ll see Bacca waste more chances like that. So that’s one change, I guess.

Yes, fans who are still supporting Milan after this week deserve a giant thank you

But there was not a significant change in Milan’s style of play today, Berlusconi. And in my opinion, it was much worse than what Mihajlovic had painstakingly built. And even if he insulted women in response to Melissa Satta’s dressing room gossip, he’s a better coach than you and Brocchi put together. Not only should you be ashamed of yourself for trying to take credit for his hard work, you’re a complete idiot for firing Mihajlovic ahead of the Coppa final. We could beat Juventus 5-0 for the trophy in May, and I will still maintain that point. Because starting over at this point, when things were still so fragile after your many other poor decisions and criticisms is just ridiculously foolish. We know you’re a politician and you don’t mean anything you say, but nothing shows it more than when you talk about Milan these days and then do such moronic things. Despite what you claim, you are no football expert, especially not in the modern game. No, you and Brocchi both are showing that you suffer from a serious case of naiveté.


This post inspired by the music of The Smiths’ “Stop Me If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before”


Our next match is
Milan vs. Carpi
Thursday, April 21 • 20:45 CEST (2:45pm EDT)