5 Reasons Pep Guardiola Would Be Great for AC Milan
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When Pep Guardiola left Barcelona, everyone wondered one thing: where will he go next?
It was inevitable. Here you have a manager who has only coached one club but in so doing created one of the greatest sides the world has ever seen.
In four seasons with Barca, Guardiola won: three league titles, two Champions Leagues, two Copa del Reys, three Spanish Supercopas, two European Super Cups and two World Club Cups.
So, it can be said that at 100% of the clubs he managed, Guardiola has been wildly successful.
This has, of course, led to all the major European teams being touted as the next stop for Pep. Big spenders Chelsea and Manchester City will surely offer huge money for Guardiola to recreate the kind of football that won even more plaudits than it did trophies.
Likewise, traditionally big clubs like Inter Milan will look to get in on some of the magic, with Manchester United always on the look-out for someone capable of the unenviable task of succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
But none of those teams need Guardiola like Inter's cross town rivals AC Milan. Currently languishing down in 10th in Serie A, their only win in four games bringing them up from 15th and an underwhelming loss to Malaga in the Champions league making their future in that competition look shaky, the Rossoneri are in dire straits.
So in this article we look at why Guardiola would be so good at the San Siro.
1. Allegri's Time Has Almost Come
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It's understandable that a manager who brought a Scudetto and a second place in his first two years would get a little leeway but Massimiliano Allegri's grace period will soon be at an end if things don't change dramatically.
Allegri has been unfortunate to see his team decimated during the summer. Milan's recent success was, to a large extent, built around Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so the loss of the Swede was always likely to have been difficult.
The double blow of Thiaggo Silva and, perhaps even more so, Alessandro Nesta in central defence has also exposed a big weakness at the back, not to mention the exits of stalwarts like Clarence Seedorf, Gennaro Gattuso and Filippo Inzaghi.
But Allegri's remaining team is still not one that should be in the bottom half of the table. In Stephan El-Shaarawy they have one of Europe's most promising young players, not to mention the likes of Abate, De Sciglio and Pato.
Additions like Nigel de Jong and Riccardo Montolivo should have helped shore up the midfield, with Robinho and Kevin-Prince Boateng still as capable of the skills they showed last season.
But Allegri has shown himself unable to adapt his style to a team without Ibrahimovic and Milan have struggled despite personnel that would make many of their rivals jealous.
So a space is likely to open up at the San Siro soon. Short-term replacements such as Mauro Tassotti or Alessandro Costacurta exist to keep the manager's seat warm for Guardiola if necessary, and the Rossoneri would presumably be happy to accommodate whatever the Spaniard would require.
2. Crowd Pleaser
Guardiola would bring the now famous "tiki taka" to Milan. For a team who have had to refund season tickets this year, Milan would be pleased to introduce a style of play that would keep the fans happy.
Plus, Berlusconi may now need the extra money from ticket sales.
In all seriousness though, Milan have been sloppy in possession even when they enjoyed relative success. Their game was overly dependent on Ibrahimovic's uncanny ability to control long balls, hold off defenders and yet still play in his teammates, and without it Milan are often devoid of ideas.
Whilst tiki taka could sometimes be accused of being boring to watch for the opposing team's fans (or even sometimes the neutral) it is anything but for fans of the side utilising it effectively.
It is a simple fact that the opposition cannot score when you have the ball, so maintaining possession is as much a form of defence as it is attack.
With the players Milan have, a more expansive game would play to their strengths as well as hiding their defensive weaknesses. For all of Barcelona's virtues over the last five years, their defensive personnel have never been the best but Guardiola's style rendered this almost irrelevant.
3. A Winning Mentality
Milan would love to change the yellow ribbons to black
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Despite winning Lo Scudetto in his first year at Milan, Max Allegri didn't bring with him a history of success. As former manager of Calgiari this was understandable but sometimes a lack of experience in winning the biggest games can transmit from a coach to his players.
This has often been the case in European football for Allegri's Milan, where on occasion, despite being the better team, they were unable to convert this to success. The scarcely deserved loss to Tottenham and near capitulation against Arsenal—despite a 4-0 lead from the first leg—in the Champions League were evidence of this.
On the contrary, Guardiola brings with him experience of winning everything, both as a coach and a player.
With Milan no longer a team full of veterans but rather one with many talented if inexperienced youngsters, they require a steady hand at the wheel.
4. Italian Experience
Unlike many of his countrymen who have tried and invariably failed to manage in Serie A, Guardiola is familiar with and, seemingly, affectionate toward Italy.
His time as a player at Brescia saw him forge many friendships, including with Roberto Baggio and his former coach Carlo Mazzone. The rumours about his possible arrival indicate that he could take Paulo Maldini as an assistant, which would hint toward a mutual respect there too.
The above video even shows him scoring a goal at the San Siro, such is his familiarity with his possible future environment.
So whilst Rafa Benitez and fellow Iberian Jose Mourinho often struggled with the pressures placed on them by the Italian media, the laid-back Guardiola would likely face no such problems.
5. Possibility of Messi
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Having played his entire career at one club, it is generally thought unlikely that Lionel Messi will leave Barcelona no matter what astronomical figure is bandied around.
But if one manager could lure the world's greatest player away from the Camp Nou, it would be his former mentor Guardiola, who saw him through from Barcelona B team all the way to the top.
In a post-Bosman, pre-financial fair play world, the Cristiano Ronaldo-esque fees of yesteryear may be a thing of the past and personal relationships will play an increasingly important factor. Particularly for a player less likely to be "sad" than Ronaldo.
Often it is the player who holds the best cards that wins and there is no better card to hold than the one with Lionel Messi on it.
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Guardiola is the most sought after free agent on the football market today, spanning both managers and players. If Milan are to attract him to the San Siro, they will face stiff opposition.
But if they can strike early they will capitalise on the stability of their rivals: Roberto Di Matteo won the Champions League last year and has started this one well for Chelsea; Roberto Mancini won Manchester City their first league title for 44 years last year; and no one at Manchester United is ever going to tell Sir Alex Ferguson to retire before he is ready.
So if Milan can strike soon, they may have an advantage. Reports in the Italian media (via Football Italia) suggest that the Rossoneri have already offered Guardiola €25m over four seasons and this is the type of money that will be necessary.
Guardiola will also demand investment in new players though and with owner Silvio Berlusconi being convicted of tax fraud, this may have a knock-on effect for any future spending at Milanello.
But if they are serious about returning to former glories, this is exactly what is necessary.