What next for fallen giants AC Milan after axing of Sinisa Mihajlovic?
Holly Thackeray | April 12, 2016
And so the axe has fallen as expected on Sinisa Mihajlovic, as another dugout experiment by Italian giants AC Milan has come to an abrupt end, with youth coach Cristian Brocchi stepping in as interim coach with immediate effect.
Outspoken manager Mihajlovic had just a 50 per cent win percentage, with 10 draws and nine losses in 38 games while in charge at Milan, which is understandably not to be considered up to scratch for a club of AC’s blatant ambition and prestigious history.
Though, a victory ratio of 38.24 per cent at previous side Sampdoria was considered a success with almost as many draw as triumphs there, highlighting the tough step up in expectations that Mihajlovic has failed to navigate.
“Like every coach in the world, I’m judged on results. If the team does not perform, then it’s right that I be sacked, even before the end of the season,” said the former set-piece threat before his last game at the helm.
His critics will point to a host of expensive players bestowed upon him last summer such as Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano, while his defenders will question why Mihajlovic has not been handed more time to tinker with a project that is rife with problems from the head down.
A 2-1 loss to league leaders Juventus, the most recent in a five-game winless sequence, seems to have been the final straw in a season where the Rossoneri (27/20 with Coral to next beat Sampdoria) have once again been inconsistent. Despite reaching a coveted Coppa Italia final against, you guessed it, the Old Lady, it wasn’t a big enough sign of progress to save the Serbian from Silvio Berlusconi’s boot.
Mihajlovic makes it six sacked
Mihajlovic, who turned out for rivals Inter Milan but never the Rossoneri as a player, was undoubtedly drafted in to achieve a top three Serie A finish, but Milan are set for a third successive season out of the Champions League places, as they toil 15 points behind Roma.
Surely the fact that other coaches before Mihajlovic have failed to return the Lombardy outfit to Europe’s most celebrated club cup competition should be enough for a stay of execution at the San Siro, with another chance to refresh the underwhelming ranks in summer? Apparently not. It is always cheaper to replace a coach than half a squad. And Italian pride is at stake here.
Little silverware has been adorning the hallowed halls of the San Siro of late, on either side of the blue and red divide, while the proud Rossoneri have been forced to watch on as northern Italian rivals Juventus storm ahead to Scudetto success yet again.
It is perhaps this that saw Mihajlovic ousted without a full term to prove himself, as the Old Lady overcame Milan to prove his final conqueror. Of course, cushioned on the Juve bench is a boss Berlusconi has already deemed unworthy, in Massimiliano Allegri.
Bested by his former employee yet again, and one who won him the Scudetto to boot, and it is not difficult to imagine that Berlusconi and the AC hierarchy opted to reshuffle their pack now ahead of another meeting, but this time with a trophy up for grabs, at the end of the season.
Though, is green around the gills Brocchi the best option to throw in at the deep end? The former Milan, Inter and Lazio midfield shield becomes the seventh coach to be appointed since the end of Carlo Ancelotti’s golden era in 2009, with Mihajlovic the sixth to be sacked in seven seasons.
Brocchi stop-gap solution
So, what of Brocchi? It appears unlikely, even potential Coppa glory aside, that the Italian will hang onto this position past summer.
Though, the 40-year-old’s agent, Davide Lippi, seemed to have other ideas, stating: “I’m very happy for Cristian, who was given this important opportunity. After several years with the youth squad, I think he’s ready for the next step.
“When President Berlusconi calls you to coach Milan, you can do nothing but accept enthusiastically, the way that Brocchi did.
“He is a great professional, he is ready, and he is an indefatigable worker. He is just the way he was as a player. I’m sure he’ll be able to work as a coach for many years.”
Milan have shown little sentimentality when showing fellow former players, ones held in high esteem such as Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi the managerial door with much haste.
Brocci was part of the gang that won it all for the Rossoneri, and should garner some respect for the crowns – Serie A, Champions League x2, Coppa Italia, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup – he collected in his time of the red and black side of Milan in his two stints.
The Milan-born manager also inherits a promising brood of youngsters, some likely even schooled by himself on their route to the senior team, that were then blooded by Mihajlovic.
These talents include Milan Primavera prodigal teenage post protector Gianluigi Donnarumma, full back Davide Calabria and centre half Alessio Romagnoli, the latter purchased from Roma in summer. While, fellow fledglings Jose Mauri, M’Baye Niang and Mattia De Sciglio could also be beneficiaries of Brocci’s experience with youth, as there is little for the sixth placed team left to play for.
In the frame
Mooted to take the San Siro throne should Brocchi flounder in these final weeks, are World Cup winner Marcello Lippi, current Fiorentina coaching incumbent Paulo Sousa and impressive Sassuolo tactician Eusebio Di Francesco.
Though, despite the football royalty the Rossoneri could lure, it is tough to see any being successful while the squad remains unbalanced and underperforming. Unless there is wiser investment in the playing roster, it will just be a case of rinse and repeat, with Berlusconi back here again a year later, hiring another of his lauded legends.
Is Brocchi’s appointment an unwise call back to a prestigious past, or a hopeful look to the future with promising talents onboard? Only time will tell, but the latest Rossoneri coaching hope should keep looking over his shoulder.