Was his rise to the top with Milan last year just good luck? After Milan-Juve I have begun to question his judgement.
Many consider Max Allegri one of the best managers in Italy after he won the Scudetto with Milan in his first season with the rossoneri. He did an exceptional job in re-organizing Leonardo’s disoriented Milan, and turning them into championship winners. But how much did the former Cagliari tactician have to do with Milan’s return to the top? Any half-decent manager could coach a team consisting of the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Thiago Silva, etc. I’m not taking any credit away from Allegri, but I do have to ask whether he really is the top-class manager some hold him to be.
Though he has done many things right during his time with Milan, at times his decisions have been inconsistent and not very wise. For example, one thing many Milanisti complain about is his substitution tactics. He waits too long to make important subs, which doesn’t give his subs enough time to make an impact. Against Juve, I was not impressed with his decisions regarding subs. Cassano, who had just started to do well, was subbed off for Emanuelson. Seedorf, on the other hand, was never subbed, despite playing poorly after having to play twice a week for the last few weeks. He is simply too old to play this often. Milan would have been better off if Aquilani had been brought on for the Dutchman, or even played from the start.
Another of his problems has been his stubbornness. As previously mentioned, he insists on starting Seedorf every game. Seedorf has played brilliantly (except against Juventus), but he cannot perform this well if he plays so often. Allegri’s choices regarding the starting eleven often puzzle me. Starting Bonera is simply dumb. Bonera is not good enough for a team like Milan. Antonini isn’t much better, but he would have been the better choice I feel. He also had Yepes on the bench, who is an excellent defender, but opted to put Antonini on for Nesta and move Bonera to the center instead during the Juventus game.
His tactics are often a problem as well. He always plays his rough-and-tough non-creative midfielders i.e. Nocerino, Gattuso, Van Bommel instead of more creative attacking options like Aquilani and Boateng. Boateng should be deployed as a right or left midfielder rather than a trequartista. Because of Allegri’s lack of attacking prowess in the centre of the pitch, Ibra and Pato become target men rather than creative threats in attack. In my opinion, this is Milan’s ideal line-up:
Abbiati; Abate, Nesta, Silva, Zambrotta; Boateng, Van Bommel, Aquilani; Robinho; Ibrahimovic, Pato
*This assumes all players are fit, which isn’t currently the case.
Some of these choices may not be what you would choose, but this provides an excellent defense, a midfield capable of attacking and defending, and a front three that could cause any defense problems. I choose Zambrotta over Taiwo because at the moment Zambrotta is a better defender. With some work to Taiwo’s defense, he will be the rossoneri first choice left-back. Seedorf could be put in there for Aquilani or Boateng as well.
The point is, if Allegri can’t turn this team around, he will be gone in a flash. Anything short of winning the Scudetto and making a good run in the UCL will be considered a failure. Will Allegri prove his worth, or will his often ineffective tactics ruin this Milan squad? He has a tough job ahead, but I trust he will get Milan back to winning ways. Good luck Max.