Lowered Expectations

The writing was on the wall when Milan hired Giampaolo. The praise heaped on him without any tangible merit created completely unrealistic expectations. But he fell short of even the lowest expectations of him. Without a lot of choices, Milan turned to another mediocre manager. Pioli doesn’t bring with him praise or unrealistic expectations at all, he is just another manager who has managed football teams. Perhaps that will be his biggest strength: lowered expectations.

Baby steps

Sometimes flattery helps and sometimes it makes things worse. With Giampaolo, it absolutely worked against him, because the praises and expectations were more than he could have ever achieved, or really any human being, actually. Was he ever the right coach for Milan? I never thought so, even if plenty of others did.

His time was cut short, something some people are criticizing, even people who criticized or even boycotted the team when he lost so many games. There is a saying that you can’t please everyone all the time, but at Milan, it feels like you can’t please anyone at any time. Giampaolo’s ideas were confusing, seemingly even to him, and probably because of that, he lost his team shockingly early in the campaign. He also lost four out of seven of his first competitive matches. People who thought that this was going to get better on its own were seriously misguided.

We took a chance, it didn't work

Which brings us to Stefano Pioli, appointed as his replacement. Is he the right man for the job? Not exactly. But he was available, willing, and a less expensive choice than other options. He coached Fiorentina through the Astori tragedy, which proves he has experience and mental fortitude to get a team through a crisis. And honestly, that is what is needed most right now.

This choice is practical, not a move based on fantasies and unrealistic expectations. This management are cleaning up the messes of decades of unsustainable football, even if that unsustainability brought Milan the glory that fans cling to. So far, they have lowered the wage bill by €25 million in a single mercato, decreased squad size, and lowered the average age considerably while improving the quality of players as well. They are even building a stadium, which is more than any management has done in decades to improve the club. However, this is a long-term project.

Cleaning up decades of unrealistic expectations

They took a gamble on Giampaolo, and he didn’t pay off, so they cut their losses. People forget that when the “good” coaches were available, we were changing our directors at the club and bargaining with UEFA about our FFP standings. We were not able to commit when those coaches were available. So we rolled the dice on Giampaolo, and lost.

I see people everywhere complaining that Milan didn’t appoint a world class coach in the wake of Giampaolo. We can’t be throwing money around. While the Elliott Fund has no shortage of cash to spend, UEFA’s FFP requires that we stay within an operating budget. There also really isn’t much availability. Of those available, who would come to Milan? The club have to prove stability before getting anyone of note to sign on to this project.

The Curva lamenting they didn't get Correa, when we got this guy instead? That's just ungrateful.

And that is where Pioli comes in. Is he going to make it rain trophies? No. Can he propel Milan to fourth place? Not likely. But he has more experience than Gattuso, who got us within one point of fourth, and really only lacked the experience to manage the mentality long term. But Pioli is a good bet to stabilize the team and get them performing better more consistently, which is the next step in the long-term project. I’d say there’s a chance for more, but I don’t want to get you people’s hopes up. You’re surprisingly unrealistic in your expectations.

Expectations are what this move is all about. With Giampaolo, everyone expected him to bring beautiful football and results. Pioli is not being burdened with titles like “the second coming of Sacchi” or “the next Sarri.” He is only being expected to bring better results. Which means this change has more to do with us than with the coaching staff. It’s not about the people in charge, it’s about us fans having lowered expectations.

This post inspired by Mad TV’s “Lowered Expectations”

Lowered Expectations Lowered Expectations Reviewed by Elaine on 11:02 AM Rating: 5
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