“Nothing has changed from last season,” Milan coach Sinisia Mihajlovic said after his side picked up their first win of the season at home to Empoli. “We showed too much fear.”
If this statement is coming from the coach, just imagine how supporters feel.
After seeing their rivals Juventus pick up four Serie A titles in a row, it seemed only a matter of time before the Rossonieri responded. Enter Thai millionaire Bee Taechaubol, who bought a 48% stake in the club this summer, allowing Milan to spend nearly $100 million on players in the transfer window.
Preseason for Milan was a mixed bag, leaving victories over eternal rivals Inter welcomed, but a feeble and unreliable Milan was exposed at the Audi Cup tournament in Germany. There they failed to score whilst shipping five goals respectively to Bayern Munich and Tottenham Hotspur.
What did give the club an early boost was winning the TIM Cup — Milan beat Inter and then Sassuolo on penalties — but it was hard to judge the new team Mihajlovic was shaping after inheriting the squad from Fillipo Inzaghi.
Despite the hype surrounding the team, Milan’s first game away to Fiorentina was a one-sided, 2-0 loss. To stoke the fires, Rodrigo Ely was sent off early on for the Milanese team. Victory came over Empoli followed, with the international break giving us a chance to reflect on the positives and negatives for Milan thus far.
BEST STARTING XI:
Diego Lopez, Mattia De Sciglio, Rodrigo Ely, Alessio Romagnoli, Luca Antonelli, Giacomo Bonaventura, Juraj Kucka, Andrea Bertolacci, Keisuke Honda, Luiz Adriano and Carlos Bacca.
Very early to give a definitive answer, but Shakhtar Donetsk import Luiz Adriano has started the season well, scoring a goal and assisting on another. He looks like he could be a great foil for Carlos Bacca up front as the season goes on.
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER:
He’s going to keep getting better and better, but already it’s easy to see why Milan paid Roma $28 million for defender Alessio Romagnoli. He is being tipped to take over the Italian defensive mantel from the likes of Paolo Maldini, Franco Baresi and Fabio Cannavaro.
The biggest concern is forward Jeremy Menez’s recurring back injury, which has kept him out of the team as the campaign has started. This is a reason that Mario Balotelli was brought back in on loan from Liverpool.
BUSINESS IN TRANSFER WINDOW:
This has been one of Milan’s most productive summers in some time. In came Carlos Bacca from Sevilla, Luiz Adriano, Andrea Bertolacci from Roma and Alessio Romagnoli. Midfielder Simeone Verdi was bought from Torino, while Juraj Kucka was snapped up from Genoa. And, of course, Balotelli’s return has the media back in a frenzy after his return.
Sinsia Mihajlovic is well known in Serie A after having plyed his trade as a player and as a manager, but he has never been a Rossonieri. The Serbian believes in psychology to being key for victories. Mihajlovic has a lot to say, but it remains to be seen, at this early stage of the season, if the players will listen.
On paper Milan went into this season with the talent to challenge in Serie A, but a fear factor remains with the club. They don’t look confident, especially in midfield. The defense will need time to settle, but Milan need a player to step up and be that playmaker that can assist in 20 goals a season. If they face an opponent that can dominate midfield, then Milan will see little of the ball.
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