Milan in a Dangerously Intriguing Spot with Coach Pioli

Stefano Pioli might do it again and be confirmed on the Milan bench despite seemingly having a foot out of the door for a few months. Like in the past, when Ralf Rangnick was very close to replacing him, a stellar finish might help his case. It’d be very tough for the brass to pull the trigger if he won the Europa League and didn’t let Inter clinch the title in the Derby. But he doesn’t need further achievements to uphold his candidacy. The management should already know him well enough to decide one way or the other.

A Potential New Front Office

It’s apparent that the call hasn’t been made already. RedBird is plotting to further bolster the front office after hiring Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It’s natural since Paolo Maldini and Frederic Massara weren’t really replaced. The latest reports suggest they are interested in Toulouse’s president Damian Comolli, who could join in an apical role, Affari Italiani reports. Despite the ongoing investigation, they surely aren’t hiding the fact that they are tied at the hip with Elliott, which governs the French side.

Those maneuvers take time and usually have significant ripple effects. It’s uncertain how many staunch defenders Pioli has within the Milan hierarchy. He doesn’t strike as somebody particularly active in politicking. It has yet to be determined whether the Swedish legend is on his side. The boss appears to be getting along with everybody and isn’t demanding on the transfer market. He’s not a tactical wizard, but he’s modern and proactive enough. More importantly, he’s very empathetic and always has the pulse of the locker room and the ear of the players, which are massive parts of the job.

If there are big changes at the top, with Gerry Cardinale bringing in more of his men and putting his stamp on the team’s direction, then a new hire would be in the natural course of action. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be conducive to what the Rossoneri want to achieve in a hurry.

Next Season’s Objective and the Prospective Heirs

The Milan owner surely doesn’t lack ambition, and if the goal is to challenge Inter as soon as next season, keeping Pioli would be the preferable choice. However, not because he’s the best option available. Their great run of results in 2024 proves that they aren’t far off from their crosstown rivals. A few quality reinforcements could suffice to set up a duel.

There are more alluring gaffers out there, but even bringing in the crème de la crème would mess up their continuity, which is arguably the NNerazzurri’s Biggest asset. No replacement would guarantee victory right away. Major adjustments would be needed regardless of the choice. Perhaps even more so if they appointed Antonio Conte or Thiago Motta, reportedly two of the main candidates.

The former, even if he decided to do away with 3-5-2, which would be surprising, would necessitate a host of signings and a much more physical squad. The Bologna boss has been great this season, but he has had success with young rosters where almost everybody bought in and performed with reckless abandon. He hasn’t been afraid of making tough decisions and excluding linchpins because they were poor fits or didn’t see eye-to-eye with him. That ended up being beneficial in the long haul, but it wouldn’t be easy to do on a top team.

The Milan Conundrum About Pioli

If the Rossoneri want a manager with fancier schemes or a better resume, they should go ahead and search for a new one. However, they’ll have to be wary that whoever the successor is, that could set him back a year or two, even if he’s a super-duper coach. It would almost surely lead to a slow start while he and the squad get to know each other. That should be the plan if they are happy with a long-term approach and take their lumps at first to start a new multi-year cycle to bring the team to the very top eventually.

Instead, maintaining the status quo and some select top-notch additions would better position them to compete next year. There might not be many teams in the mix besides Inter. IIt’smore likely than not that Juventus will move on from Massimiliano Allegri or at least significantly revamp their squad, probably weakening it to be more sustainable. Napoli are way behind after a catastrophic year. They will look a lot different after losing Victor Osimhen. Other sides need to make such a big leap to be contenders that it’s hard to imagine they’ll manage in one summer or season.

Either way, Milan should take a stand one way or the other on Pioli. He has a year on his contract, so they should either extend it or go in a different direction. Having a lame-duck boss, which is being considered according to TuttoSport, would only undermine him. At this level, it tends to lead to a midseason dismissal if they aren’t where they want to be after the initial months, as happened to José Mourinho.

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