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Collateral Damage



Whatever criticisms any of us have about Gennaro Gattuso, no one can argue with what he has done for Milan. It is almost one year since he was hired after that whiny Montella was fired… finally. Gattuso has lasted through a complete change of management, a UEFA ban that was then reversed, and two transfer markets, even if one was non-existent for Milan. He has brought back the grinta to Milan, and taught all of our players except Montolivo what it really means to wear the Milan shirt. Only now, we have an injury plague of epic proportions, and part or much of the blame is likely on him. As much as his players love him and he loves them, they have become collateral damage.

Sure, they were happy then, but both of them have been playing injured for weeks now

Many chalk up the injury crisis to bad luck, but on Sunday, we had nine of our starters carrying some level of injury. Ranging from Gattuso’s “gritting his teeth” level of pain, but able to pass a fitness test all the way to the kind of injury that required surgery and multiple months out to recover from, we have them all. And they are all impacting the mentality of the entire club, too.

The first time I ever remember seeing fear in Gattuso’s eyes was when he himself had an injury. He had an eye injury that kept him off the pitch as a player, and it really seemed to freak him out. The next time was against Real Betis in Spain last week. First Musacchio was stretchered off. Then Kessie went down for a second time, and Cutrone was limping at the end, too. That was the same day we learned we’d lost Biglia for at least two months. And those injuries were on top of the others. It was like watching soldiers’ bodies pile up in a nasty war.

He knows what it is to be an injured soldier

At the bare minimum, Gattuso must take some responsibility given the fact that nine of his starting eleven are injured, which first points to a lack of proper squad rotation. It’s something we kind of looked at last season, but that was before there were bodies pile up in the medical room. Also, his late subs. As we talked about on the last podcast, a player who plays 60 minutes every three days is much healthier than the one who plays 90 minutes every three days. Especially when you look at those last 30 minutes cumulatively, due to fatigue.

But one of the biggest questions that no one at the club has really talked about is whether or not Gattuso’s infamously tough training sessions are contributing to our unusually high number of injuries. Take for example, Bonucci. He trained under Allegri at Juventus. The same Allegri that endured a lesser number of injuries while coaching at Milan that forced him to change training staff more than once before eventually being fired himself. Remember? Yes, that Allegri. When Gattuso came to Milan, Bonucci said the trainings were the toughest he’d ever had. Many other players coming from other clubs have said similar things, too. So are his trainings breaking our players?

The proud general... is he being humbled by these injuries?

Gattuso stands on the sidelines, fierce and somehow fatherly at the same time. Like an army general, he is proud and never gives up. But with so many men down, so many fallen soldiers, it might be time to question if his actions have actually been contributing. Has Gattuso been creating collateral damage?


This post inspired by the music of U2’s “War”