When Gennaro Gattuso was handed the reins at Italian giants AC Milan, many pundits believed he lacked the experience required to turn the club’s fortunes around. However, he is slowly but surely proving the doubters wrong.
Expectation was high in Milan at the start of the season. Under Vincenzo Montella, the Rossoneri possessed the second highest wage bill in Serie A, but floundered badly; things reaching a nadir following the club’s 0-0 draw with Torino in November.
The club had been in awful form, and Montella had failed to get his players performing to the standards that both the club directors and fans expected. The Torino result had seen Milan win just twice in a nine-game span that had included five defeats.
They weren’t the pre-season favourites with the bookmakers but it was expected that with their summer
spending of £175 million they could at least be competitive. Given the spending spree, many expected Milan to be a lot stronger. They had brought in players like Leo Bonucci from Juventus for £37.8 million, Andre Silva from Porto for £34 million, and Hakan Calhanoglu from Bayer Leverkusen for £19.8 million but, with their poor start, their odds drifted.
Montella was shown the door, and in came club legend Gennaro Gattuso.
Although the hopes of Milan finishing in the top three were all but gone, if their form changed there was still a slim chance of reaching a European place. If fans couldn’t be tempted to use their free bets back in November, they might have a change of heart now.
And, with bookies such as Ladbrokes offering £50 welcome offers, Gattuso’s men might be worth a gamble for Europa League glory, too.
However, the Gattuso reign didn’t get off to the flyer that the Rossoneri expected, with a demoralising loss to lowly Benevento. Leading 2-1 late in the game against bottom of the table and point-less Benevento, Milan let the lead slip in extraordinary circumstances. The Campania-based club got a free kick in stoppage time and up came goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli to grab a dramatic equaliser. The goal made history by sealing the first top-flight point ever earned by Benevento.
Milan then beat Bologna before another pair of back-to-back defeats. Firstly, they were humiliated by a struggling Hellas Verona 3-0 at the Bentegodi before a 2-0 home defeat to Atalanta. A draw in Florence stopped the rot and then a 1-0 victory over Crotone started an impressive run.
There was no magic wand waved by Gattuso but he applied a common sense approach and got the players back to basics. Bonucci found his form and Suso started to create a few chances, but the biggest improvement came from Giacomo Bonaventura. The skilful midfielder has been excellent since Gattuso took over, scoring five times in 12 matches. This is even more impressive considering the fact that he hadn’t managed a single goal in Serie A this season before the arrival in the dugout of the former Milan legend.
Results have been steadily improving and Gattuso has led his side on an impressive eight-game stretch without defeat. During that run, Milan have beaten both Lazio and Roma, as well as getting victories over Sampdoria and Cagliari.
There is now a real hope amongst the fans that Gattuso could lead this team into Europe this season and that, in the long term, the good times could be back for the Rossoneri.