Welcome back to AC Milan! The season has begun brilliantly, with our new signings settling in quickly, and we haven’t so much as drawn a game so far!
We have very few of our previous concerns remaining. Our finances are on the up now that we’ve got Champions League football, our team is performing very well, and we’ve made some progress towards securing the futures of our best players for the long term.
The majority of today’s post will be geared towards the middle four months of the season, so plenty of football, some January transfer work and we’ll conclude with some behind the scenes talk. But first, I’ll just touch on the tactics…
No huge adjustments, but it’s always good to provide a refresher:
After a promising end to last season, Luca Di Giacomo is not providing as much as I would like up top. So we’re changing from a Pressing Forward to a Complete Forward on Support duty, to see if we can get him a bit more involved. I’ve not been at all convinced by the impact of the Mezzala so far, so will be reverting back to a CM – A for the time being.
In terms of personnel, there is absolutely no doubt that Emanuel Vignato is now our first team AMR. He has been sensational, and taken full advantage of André Silva’s injury problems. So much so, that I may look to sell Silva come the end of the season.
Just about the perfect month:
Crushing dominance against all comers, and LDG scored five goals in November alone, compared to two in the previous three months combined. Good early signs for the complete forward role.
We’ve finally drawn!
Another special month, showcasing both our incredible defensive abilities and our squad depth too. After his goal against Fiorentina, LDG strained his groin in training and wouldn’t be back until January. We didn’t look as good in attack without him and perhaps relied a little more than I would usually like on set pieces to stack more wins. But I’m really grasping for things to worry about at the moment!
We comfortably won our Champions League group:
Unfortunately, winning a Champions League group doesn’t look like much of a bonus this season, with Man City, PSG, Frankfurt, Dortmund and Bayern amongst our potential 1st round opponents after finishing second in their groups. We got City.
There’s a couple of calendar year awards to mention, with Mammana being named in the World Team of the Year, and Donnarumma second in Goalkeeper of the Year, and he probably would’ve won it if I hadn’t rotated him so much. Sorry Luigi.
January Transfer Window:
I don’t think I mentioned our transfer funds in the last post, so here’s that:
Plus anything we make from transfers out:
César Montes was a solid performer for us over the last year and a half, doing a great job at centre back or as an anchor man when closing games out. But he wanted out, and the money was too good for a 29 year old who was essentially my fourth choice CB.
José Couto isn’t a centre back:
But the other four names all are. When I was deciding whether or not to sell Montes, I took a look at both the youth squads and was dismayed by the central defenders I found. Still, after looking through our shortlist, I decided to sell anyway and devote some of our transfer funds to bolstering the position both for now, and hopefully for some years to come.
Tiago Matos comes into the first team squad now:
A like for like replacement for Montes, but a bit younger, and on paper at least, slightly better. He’ll see a decent amount of action this season.
Michal Prochazka comes in with next season in mind:
Just minutes after Ted_Redwood and I were complaining on Slack about how bad newgen CB’s tend to be in the air, Prochazka turned up on a scout report, and I snapped him up eagerly. He needs a little work on his mentals, but he looks like a potential star.
One down side about the timing of this find is that it happened just days after we agreed to sign Dario Maresic on a free from Spurs at the end of the season, so there’ll be decisions to make come the summer as we’re definitely going to have too many CB’s…
The other two CB signings will spend some time with the youth teams and hopefully develop into good players over time, along with José Couto who is yet another promising forward.
A second piece of silverware for me at Milan!
We were awful in the first half against Napoli. After going in to the dressing room 1-0 down, I resorted to a double upset team talk: an aggressive “show me something else” for the team, and an assertive “I expect better” to every single player.
We were superb in the second half against Napoli!
We were a little lucky to get a dodgy penalty against Torino (the best teams find a way to win when they play badly… right?), but concluded the month with a pair of strong performances. Frank Kessié is on cracking form.
Always a busy month:
And a very satisfying one. Our league form continues to astound, but it’s our cup progress I’m particularly pleased with.
Going in to Manchester and beating the reigning European champions Man City in their own backyard was fantastic, and gives us the upper hand for the home leg in March. We were 1-0 up with just eight minutes of normal time remaining, before all hell broke loose!
Although it took a penalty shootout to separate us from Juventus in the Coppa Italia Semi, we had outperformed them in both legs. Only a very unfortunate own goal in injury time spared Juve from a defeat in regulation.
Finally, the February Serie A Goal of the Month award went to Moise Vlad-Paul for this beauty against Chievo:
Well, I don’t really know what to say about this:
Behind The Scenes:
Since we’ve qualified for next year’s Champions League already, we get an early look at our budget:
I don’t think we’ll need to spend all of that, and with CL revenue secure for another year, it’s time to look to the facilities:
And we may look to improve the training facilities too, provided the bank balance continues on it’s upward trajectory.
We’re doing incredibly well, and short of an absolutely total catastrophe, a second Serie A title is ours.
Next week we’ll finish up the season, with the league run-in, a cup final and hopefully a deep run in the Champions League to come. We’ll also have our second youth intake at Milan, so fingers crossed for a good one!
Thanks for reading!