The Milan derby fast approaches, with the Rossoneri set to battle an adversary not on the pitch and mightier than the Nerazzurri they will face.
Giovanni Trappatoni very correctly pointed out, ahead of Sunday’s Derby della Madonnina between AC Milan and Inter, that fear will decide who the loser will be.
“It’s going to be a very tense match,” Trapattoni told Tuttosport.
“It is a difficult game to make any kind of prediction but I think the winner will be the team that is least scared of losing.”
If there is one team that has been most culpable of being scared of losing, it has been Filippo Inzaghi’s AC Milan.
AC Milan’s performances this season have been anything but impressive. In fact they seem to have gotten worse and worse.
Before the Christmas break, AC Milan only collected 25 points. The Rossoneri seem barely on course to match that paltry haul however, having gathered only 16 points since January. Having only won six times before Christmas, Inzaghi’s men only managed four since.
With eight games left to the end of the season, the pressure has become all the more intense on the underperforming AC Milan coach.
February reports stated that the club hierarchy had met to discuss Inzaghi’s future, but only to reaffirm his position at the Rossoneri helm in the end. Later in the same month, reports emerged that Inzaghi would only hold onto his job until the summer. This week however, Adriano Galliani gave Inzaghi the dreaded vote of confidence, confirming he would stay throughout this season and next.
The point is that Inzaghi has eight games left to make a good case for keeping his job, with this Sunday’s derby sure to count a lot in his end-of-the-season evaluation.
The pressure of that countdown has weighed a lot on Inzaghi and his tactical choices with the season winding down. Inzaghi’s tactical setup was never the most expansive or proactive to begin with, but the AC Milan coach has become more and more negative as of late.
Fear has engendered a crisis of confidence, which in its turn has inhibited and paralysed both the team and coach. Indeed, that fear will be AC Milan’s greatest opponent ahead of their derby clash against Inter.
At this point, Inzaghi needs a statement game.
Everyone will remember the incredible 5-4 victory over Parma at the start of the season, but Inzaghi needs more.
Short of playing with reckless abandon, Inzaghi needs to take the tactical shackles off his team and allow the players to express themselves.
Admittedly though, it is not from a lack of wanting that Inzaghi isn’t able to get the best out of his team. In fairness to him, it simply comes down to a lack of quality in the players; but the dearth in quality does not mitigate for the poor performances and poor results AC Milan have picked up in since the turn of the year.
There seems to be a more important psychological barrier both the Rossoneri players and coach are not able to break through.
They say a team often plays to the image of its coach. In AC Milan’s case, it very much looks to be just that.
The fear-stricken Inzaghi, petrified of losing his job, transmits his anxiety onto the the pitch, thus leading to the many apprehensive Rossoneri displays on show this season.
Against Inter, as Trappatoni noted it, such tentativeness will only precipitate another AC Milan’s loss — the ninth of the season.