After failing to qualify for the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League, AC Milan have decided to lower their expectations as a club going forward.
A 3-2 victory against SPAL in the final round of the Serie A season was in vain as the Rossoneri finished one point behind city rivals Inter in the Serie A table and both coach Gennaro Gattuso and sporting director Leonardo decided to have their contracts terminated.
There have been numerous candidates linked with the new coaching role including Sampdoria tactician Marco Giampaolo, who has turned the Doriani into one of the most entertaining teams in Italian football and improved the quality of the players at his disposal.
Under the ownership of the Elliott Management Corporation as well as the presence of CEO Ivan Gazidis, AC Milan do not have the ambition and desire to spend lavishly like they did when Silvio Berlusconi was president so the focus is now on long-term planning instead of instant success.
“The vision of Elliott is clear. Take away the financial burden from Milan and put them back in the right direction, letting them grow and making them a modern club,” Gazidis told La Gazzetta dello Sport in late May.
“Elliott never set a time limit, we don’t have a deadline and I won’t make promises to shorten the length of time it’ll take.
“Anyone looking for a magician who snaps his fingers, opens taps full of money and resolves everything won’t find it here.
“There have already been enough illusions and lies. The story of unfulfilled beautiful promises is over.”
It is probably the news that Milan fans don’t want to hear but the club does not want to aim for instant success and they prefer to build gradually. Rossoneri legend Paolo Maldini is expected to become the technical director and he reportedly wants Giampaolo as coach so it seems that the Doriani tactician fits in with the club’s goals in the near future.
The 51-year-old Swiss-born coach does not boast a great pedigree, having never coached in any of the European competitions and Sampdoria’s ninth place finish this season is the best result that he has achieved in Serie A.
If Giampaolo does become the next Milan coach, he will be the third ex-Samp tactician in less than a decade to coach the Diavolo after Sinisa Mihajlovic and Vincenzo Montella. Both coaches failed to make the Rossoneri a force again but the former Cagliari and Empoli coach won’t be there to provide a quick fix.
Although Giampaolo has used different formations throughout his career, he predominantly uses the 4-3-1-2 and will encourage his players to work within that system.
While most Milan coaches have struggled to give the team an identity in the 2010s, the Samp tactician would work painstakingly to make sure that the squad can adapt to his methods and embrace his philosophy. After years of using the 4-3-3 as well as experimenting with back three formations, implementing the 4-3-1-2 could work in the favour of the squad.
During his time at Sampdoria, the likes of Joachim Andersen, Dennis Praet, Milan Skriniar, Lucas Torreira, Karol Linetty, and Patrik Schick have emerged under his tenure while Fabio Quagliarella has had an amazing career revival under the 51-year-old, finishing as Serie A leading goalscorer with 26 goals in 2018/19 and returning to the Italian national team.
With that in mind, Giampaolo might suit the rebuild under Elliott and Gazidis. The club has to meet financial fair play requirements and key players might be sold but the Doriani coach can polish players off and help them become the real deal.
AC Milan fans might feel nostalgic and demand a return to the years when they won European Cup/Champion League titles but those times are nothing more than a dream for now and Giampaolo suits the rebuilding phase that the club hierarchy is planning for.