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If I Could Talk to Santa



This is Gattuso’s second Christmas in charge of the first team, and I like to think he’s learned some things. For example, last year, like the worst Grinch ever, he took away the team’s annual Christmas party and put the team in ritiro for a week, away from their families at the time of the year most people want to be with their families the most. And it didn’t help, they suffered a soul-killing 2-0 loss to Atalanta at the San Siro just two days before Christmas. At least this year, despite also being in a slump (coincidence?) he seems to have a heart that grew a size or two to allow them to spend time with their families. However after the 1-0 loss to Fiorentina on Saturday, there are still a lot of things that I would say to him if I could talk to Santa.

Still trying to decide if you're naughty or nice

First of all, Gattuso Santa, let’s talk about the injury situation. Even Bonucci, coming from Allegri’s Juventus, said your trainings are far more physically demanding than anything else he’d ever done. I get that you want to build strength and stamina, but there is a balance. And having ten starters out injured all at once is not balance.

But the trainings are not the only potential cause of the Injury Apocalypse™. Your substitutions are like nightmares from an absent-minded professor. From November 11th hosting Juve to December 13th away to Olympiakos, you only used three subs one time. And that was against Dudelange. That’s five out of six games where you used only zero, one, or two subs, all during a time you had anywhere from five to ten starters injured. It was so tragically ironic. And you only finally used three subs against Bologna because Bakayoko got himself sent off and you had to make adjustments.

They are your warriors, but it's not necessary to break them to prove their loyalty

When you sub, and especially when you start subbing around the 60th minute like most coaches do, it rests your starters and helps to prevent injuries. That’s just a simple fact. And if you are not subbing, or are subbing too late, your starters are more likely to be injured. It’s just how it works, it’s not rocket science.

Santa, the timing alone may impact the injuries and to a certain degree the game, because #FreshLegsMatter. However, how and whom you sub matters most to the results. And we haven’t been getting those lately, either. I’ve talked about it on the podcast many times, and I know you’ve been busy with two competitions, so maybe you haven’t had a chance to listen, but it’s important to make subs that impact the game for the positive. For example, on Saturday, you brought on Cutrone and Laxalt, and five minutes later, we conceded. That was not the team your subs were supposed to impact.

Players don't like to be broken

We also saw in that game that Mauri didn’t have 90 minutes in his legs when we needed him most, which speaks to your poor rotations. And while rotations also help keep the injury list short, they can also help out when we have a crisis of epic midfield proportions like we did on Saturday. Proper rotations help with everything, including morale, because allowing everyone some playing time makes everyone feel valued and work harder because they know they’ll get some time if they do. And a team with good morale overcomes scoring slumps like our current three match slump with no goals scored, for example.

Speaking of morale and playing time, though, I have to thank you, Santa, for not playing Montolivo. You are the first coach to do the right thing. In addition to his horrific behaviors off the pitch, he is so slow and concedes so many goals. Despite what his agent says, he is the 27th worth player at Milan right now, if you exclude yourself, your staff, and the cooks and janitorial staff. I think he might be on par with that 100 year-old fan you recently met in Rome. And he does have a contagious disease, why do you think that no coach could get the results the team deserved this past six years? The whole team was getting what Montolivo has, and I think it even spread to the fans. So thank you so very much for quarantining him to the bench. I am eternally grateful.

 
Keep him alone in the shadows where he belongs

To close, Santa, thank you for everything you’ve done for Milan in the past year. You’ve rescued us from that pretty boy Montella and all that he put us through. You’ve surprised and continue to surprise us with all that you’ve done. I feel like if you work out those subs, rotations, and maybe amp up the tactics a bit, you could write history. But as for this Christmas, if you could just find a way to get it together for the match against Frosinone so we don’t embarrass ourselves, I’d really appreciate it. Thank you, Gattuso Santa, and Merry Christmas!


Thanks to everyone who reads here, without you there would be no reason to write. Have a very Merry Christmas for those who are celebrating, and Forza Milan!


This post was inspired by the music of Meagan Moore & Matthew Hall’s “When Christmas Comes to Town”


Our next match is
Serie A Week 18
Frosinone vs. Milan
Wednesday, December 26 • 12:30pm CET (6:30am EST)