5 Managers Who Could Return AC Milan to the Champions League Next Season
It's been a long time since a Milan side was so totally outclassed by Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, and while Friday's game finished 2-0 to the Lupi, it could have easily been a lot more.
The Rossoneri looked totally clueless in defence and absolutely impotent in front of goal—not for the first time this season.
The deep malaise that's affecting Milan so seriously cost Max Allegri his job, and unless he can do something soon, it looks like it will also doom Clarence Seedorf to the same fate.
So as the club look forward to next season—when Champions League qualification will be top of their priorities—who could lead the Rossoneri back to the promised land?
Clarence Seedorf's future almost certainly hinges on next week's Milan derby. The Dutchman has steadied the ship since taking over from Allegri in January, but doubts remain over whether he's done enough to prove that he's the right man for the job long term.
Speaking to the Italian media after the Roma game (here in English via goal.com), he said:
Now we prepare for Inter. We move forward.
I saw Milan play in a dignified way against a side that have been doing well since the start of the season. There’s no shame in losing against a side like this. They believe strongly in their title chances. We’ve got 15 points from six matches. The team are on the right road.
I do what I can and I think that the team are doing well. There are particular years in the league where the top teams are way ahead of the rest but all credit to Juventus and Roma who are having great seasons.
Even with Milan's run of wins recently, they still look like a club in crisis and were undeniably poor against Roma.
It's true that it's been an outstanding season for the capital side, and while it would be unfair to judge Seedorf solely on how he does against teams like the Giallorossi or Juve—both of whom are some way ahead of the Rossoneri in terms of quality and organisation—it was the manner of the defeat that raises questions.
At no point in the game at the Olimpico did Milan look in control; a club with such a rich history deserves better from its players.
Seedorf's history with the club means that the romantics will want him to be given a chance, and in fairness, it's something he probably deserves. The harsh competitive and financial realities of modern football, however, hold no such sentiments. Club legend or not, he needs to win.
Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport (here in Italian) still rates Filippo Inzaghi as the favourite for the job. Super Pippo has been learning the managerial trade with Milan's Allievi Nazionali, the Rossoneri's under-17 side.
Although Inzaghi lacks senior coaching experience, Milan's willingness to gamble on Seedorf suggests that the club is eager to invest its trust in a former player, one who understands the importance of the club's history and who can instil the old winning mentality into this current generation of players.
In that respect, there are few better for the job, as Inzaghi won a host of titles at the San Siro. In his 11 years in red and black, he was integral to a host of trophies, including two Serie A titles, a Coppa Italia, two Champions League wins and a FIFA Club World Cup title.
Upon hearing the news that Milan wanted him to take over at the San Siro, Fiorentina's current boss Vincenzo Montella joked that it was actually another Montella, his son who plays for the youth set-up at Roma, who they were interested in (here in Italian, from the Gazzetta dello Sport).
The former striker, affectionately known in Italy as L'Aeroplanino—the little aeroplane—is one of the most highly-rated young coaches in Europe right now. His work at Catania and Fiorentina has been impressive, and it's only a matter of time before he opts for the challenge of managing one of Europe's biggest clubs.
Before that, however, he'll want to achieve something special with the Viola, who have a solid squad and are playing exciting football.
Qualifying for the Champions League—or challenging for the Scudetto—won't be easy for them, but in all likelihood Montella will fancy his chances at the Stadio Artemio Franchi better than he would at the San Siro in the short to medium term. Convincing him to leave Florence for Milan won't be easy.
He's an outside bet, but the former Zenit St. Petersburg and Roma manager Luciano Spalletti would be an ideal candidate to return Milan to the top of Italian and European football.
He's proven himself to be capable of playing attractive football and winning games with relatively limited resources at Udinese and at Roma, and in Russia he won two league titles and brought Zenit to the group stages of the Champions League for the first time in their history.
In many ways, he's the ideal candidate. He's experienced but still young enough to commit to the job long term. He has a proven track record in Italy and in Europe—and he's available.
Roberto Donadoni is another Milan legend who should be considered for the job.
Since underwhelming as Italy manager, he's rebuilt his reputation at Cagliari and now at Parma, where he's transformed the Crociati into an entertaining and dangerous side that will almost certainly feature in next season's Europa League—a considerable achievement for the club.
Speaking to the Gazzetta dello Sport (here in Italian) the former midfielder insisted that it didn't bother him that Silvio Berlusconi didn't consider him "fashionable" enough for the job. It's something that should bother Milanisti.
Rather than thinking about a fashionable choice who might grab headlines in the short term, Berlusconi and the Milan board need to find a reliable coach who can oversee the sizeable reconstruction that this squad needs.
Donadoni understands Milan as well as anyone. He was integral to the club's success in the '80s and '90s, winning five Scudetti, three European Cups, three European Super Cups and two Intercontinental Cups.