Pioli’s Extension Is Good News For Milan But Shows One Problem

It’s indeed been a roller-coaster over the past 24 hours for Milan and company. It looked more than likely Ralf Rangnick would join at the end of the season but for a late turn-around at the eleventh hour. Meaning, Stefano Pioli gets to continue his adventure at the helm of affairs for another two years.

It’s easy to see why the club’s hierarchy would want Pioli to remain at the club. An initial few months of inconsistency has been replaced with excellent results over recent time. 23 points out of a possible 27 since the restart means no Serie A side (bar Atalanta) has shown better form than Milan of late.

If a table was done based on 2020 results only, the Rossoneri would definitely play Champions League football next season. That is no longer achievable but Milan would still manage European action this fall with the Europa League – something that looked a far dream after a woeful start to the season.

In addition to that, lots of players have stepped up and are beginning to show some sort of consistency. The most notable has to be Hakan Calhanoglu: Initially slated before the break, he’s gone on to silence his critics of late. In the 9 games since Serie A’s restart, the Turkish international has scored 4 goals, made 7 assists, created 24 chances, and 4 big chances. He’s also averaged an 87% pass success rate – Milan’s best producer and main playmaker. Some comeback that after being ridiculed before the break.

Theo Hernandez and Ismael Bennacer are some other names that have remained on the top level as well.

In summary, we can’t deny the good work Pioli has done but let’s take a closer look at his extension.

Is Milan taking quite the gamble sticking with Pioli over Rangnick?  Pioli has done an impressive job since the restart, but you have to feel there’s a hint of recency bias in this decision.

The comments of Ivan Gazidis’ following the gaffer’s extension sends across a message:

This is not a decision based on recent victories, but one based on how Stefano has built team spirit and unity of purpose, the way he has improved the performances of the individual players and the collective team, the way he has embraced our vision and the way he has represented himself and the club’s values.

Gazidis can say the decision wasn’t on recent victories but if we didn’t see a massive upturn of form, it’s safe to say the Rangnick agreement would have carried on anyways.

Basing any decisions from a period of post lock-down where effectively we are playing/watching a different sport is dangerous. After-all, Gennaro Gattuso claimed the recent changes to the sport made him feel like it was something entirely different. A look at Juventus as well, and you’ll see how their performances have dropped. If you go outside Italy, similar precedent has happened to the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Yes, Milan have been near perfect since the restart but it’s been helped by the fact that a lot of teams have lost form. It was a different story at the time when this same Milan side was annihilated 5-0 by Atalanta back in December. Right? It all looks like the club’s board are only thinking short term with no clear plan for a complete revolution.

A leaf out of Juventus’ pages and you’ll see one clear reason why they’ve always dominated Serie A. Aside from their crop of top players, the Bianconeri have never been afraid to take a bold decision. Even after winning titles, many of the club’s coaches have had to go simply because they didn’t fit the ultimate plan.

As it stands, Maurizio Sarri is all but set to hand the Old Lady another Serie A title but there are already reports of the club in search for another manager. Should Milan not try that kind of ruthlessness in their quest for top glory once again?

All of this seems like a knee-jerk reaction and Milan fans can only hope it’ll be one that won’t bite the Rossoneri at the back in the nearest future. A tough summer awaits Stefano Pioli as he tries to build on his winning formula and maintain the good spirits the club have witnessed of late.

The transfer window is set to open soon and teams would surely bring in re-reinforcements ahead of next season. With all clubs in full sync and fresh ahead of a new season, we can then take a second look and judge the work Pioli has done with the team.

It would rather be fair to judge the manager on a complete season with no breaks, interruptions or anything that could turn-around the trajectory of everything. Only time would tell whether Milan were spot on in their latest managerial decision.