AC Milan: 3 Reasons Allegri's Coaching Ability Is Going to Be Tested
Massimiliano Allegri is under a serious amount of pressure.
AC Milan sold their best two players this summer, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both departed to Paris Saint-Germain.
Due to financial constraints, the Rossoneri failed to adequately replace these players.
Nonetheless, the club still expect Allegri to deliver success and will hold the Italian tactician solely accountable should the club fail in this regard.
Here is why Allegri will have his coaching ability thoroughly tested over the coming months.
Maintaining a Good Team Spirit
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This is just a sign that the atmosphere in the locker room may not be as good as it once was, something that will prove to be very challenging to Allegri, who will strive to ensure all of his players are satisfied.
This could prove problematic when you have such a plethora of options at your disposal, even though they may not all be of the highest quality. With five established centre-backs and only two positions available in the team it could be tricky rotating the side enough to appease them all without losing momentum.
There are plenty of striking options too, with five more seasoned options at Allegri's disposal as well as the mercurial talent of M'Baye Niang, all of which will be craving game time.
The Rossoneri manager has 27 outfield players to choose from and this means that when everybody is fit, despite new Serie A rules allowing up to 12 players to be named on the substitute's bench, at least four players will be frozen out of match squads.
Unsettled Defence Without a Leader in Thiago Silva's Absence
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Massimiliano Allegri lost his most important defender, Thiago Silva, which means that the defence is totally unsettled, as proven from their opening two matches.
Francesco Acerbi is a respectable Serie A defender, as was Cristian Zapata during his time with Udinese. The Colombian has joined the Rossoneri on loan from Villarreal.
With Daniele Bonera, Mario Yepes and Philippe Mexes also competing for a starting berth at centre-back, Allegri doesn't even appear to have one candidate who he can pinpoint to form half of his centre-back partnership each week. This could be highly unsettling to the side.
Furthermore, the full-back areas remain a concern. Ignazio Abate appears to be somewhat prone to injury over the last year, and while Mattia De Sciglio is talented, he experienced a torrid time against Bologna in the last match, persistently targeted by Archimede Morleo, who could be considered quite average.
Left-back is no more clear either. Djamel Mesbah is an accident waiting to happen. Milan were frustrated as they failed to offload the Algerian. Luca Antonini is an honest professional and provides the flexibility to perform on either flank, but the opposition will always feel they can get some reward from targeting his side of the pitch.
As well as Thiago's outstanding defensive ability and athleticism, the defence lost the leadership and experience of Alessandro Nesta, who joined the Montreal Impact in the MLS.
Allegri will be tested to the extreme in assembling a settled, organised defence. There are no shortage of options, it is just a matter of ensuring that the defensive principles can be carried out, something that immediately appears to be challenging.
No Trequartista for His Beloved Formation
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Massimiliano Allegri is an devout advocate of the 4-3-1-2 formation and has utilized this system throughout his tenure with AC Milan.
The pivotal figure in this formation is the "one," who would be referred to in Italy as the trequartista, the player most responsible for providing the creativity to the side's attacks.
Last season this role was interpreted differently with Zlatan Ibrahimovic operating in a much deeper role than many expected. The Swedish international tended to flourish in the area that the "one" would normally position himself, which allowed Kevin-Prince Boateng to burst beyond Ibrahimovic when the Rossoneri were in possession.
This worked really well due to Ibrahimovic's wonderful vision and range of passing, superior to that of anybody else in the squad. It appeared to be the perfect solution after the majestic Andrea Pirlo departed to Juventus.
Allegri must now conjure up an alternative plan after the enigmatic Swede left for Ligue 1, but the signings made this summer do not offer anything appealing in this regard.
Giampaolo Pazzini can replace, to an extent, Ibrahimovic's physical presence, but clearly lacks the vision and genius of his predecessor. With Robinho's erratic form, Boateng will continue to be deployed as the "one," which begs the question of who will be able to unlock the tougher defences.
It feels like Milan can sweep aside inferior opposition with force and superior matchups across the pitch. Against the stronger, tactically disciplined opponents, who tend to position the majority of the side behind the ball, Milan will come unstuck.
Boateng will receive plenty of the ball, but unless he is being released by a more creative player, he will struggle to break down the opposition and will normally resort to long-range shooting.
It is Allegri's toughest test yet and something he will have been anticipating for some time. If he can produce a title challenge with this large but limited group of players, Milan will owe a great deal to the Mister.