With Massimiliano Allegri announcing he will not continue working at Milan after this season, attention now turns to the task of replacing him. While it could be argued that anyone they choose could not do a worse job, their next coaching appointment will be key given the current state of the Rossoneri.
They have clearly regressed since their 2011 Scudetto win, which now seems like a distant memory, yet the squad is filled with a variety of players who should be achieving far more than they currently are. A variety of names have been linked with the role, from youth team coach Filippo Inzaghi to former midfielder Clarence Seedorf, but would either really be suited to such a high-pressure role?
The striker only began coaching after retiring 18 months ago, while the Dutchman is still playing in Brazil for Botafogo. With Milan in such a state of flux, it will take an experienced hand to guide them, and picking up the pieces of Allegri’s battered and broken side is no place to begin a top-flight coaching career.
One major factor in their favour is the fact it is a World Cup year, a time when most national teams come to the natural end of an era. This means bosses move on to new positions, and a raft of high-profile coaches should become available once the competition ends. This could work out very well for club management of the red-and-black half of San Siro, and they do not have to look far for an ideal candidate.
Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will most likely walk away from the Azzurri, drawing a line under a four-year tenure in which he has carried them from the end of Marcello Lippi’s team to a bright, young future. That situation is very similar to what we now see at Milan, and the former Fiorentina boss possesses all the attributes now missing at the club.
There is surely no better man to resurrect the ailing giant than him?
Unlike Allegri, Prandelli knows how to bring the best from young players, a quality the Rossoneri so desperately need. He is willing to give them opportunities and also knows how to shield them from criticism. With their squad boasting talents such as Stephan El Shaarawy, Mattia De Sciglio, Bryan Cristante and Riccardo Saponara, having someone who can properly integrate them is essential.
Allegri has also become infamous for attempting to press players into unsuitable positions, such as his insistence on fielding Kevin Constant at left-back or Kevin-Prince Boateng as a winger. Prandelli’s tactical choices—ranging from a 4-2-3-1 to 4-3-3 with attacking wide players—is far more compatible with the current squad, and his choices are usually far more coherent than those made by the current incumbent.
However, that perhaps pales in significance to another factor, one which could decide the speed at which Milan return to contending for major trophies and fighting at the right end of the table. No coach has appeared to have such a sound understanding of Mario Balotelli as Prandelli, and the mutual respect they share is palpable when the striker is on national-team duty.
The coach can clearly motivate Balotelli, and the inspired performances seen from him in the Azzurri shirt have rarely been repeated at club level. He knows when to stand by him and when to lay down the law, as witnessed by the occasions he has opted to omit the player from his squads as part of the "code of ethics."
Prandelli may not be willing to take on the role or might have doubts about taking on such a monumental task. He may, of course, opt for a sabbatical or to remain with Italy should they enjoy a successful summer; however, if there is any possibility, then Adriano Galliani and Barbara Berlusconi should make every effort to bring him to Milan.
The unifying presence of the coach would undoubtedly go a long way to repair the damage the duo’s ongoing disagreements has had, and he could galvanise a playing squad that often seems to lack motivation. It may seem like an impossible job, and luring Cesare Prandelli may be equally difficult, but there is perhaps no better candidate.