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AC Milan: Should they sack Massimiliano Allegri?

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Allegri arrived at AC Milan in 2010 (©GettyImages)
Allegri arrived at AC Milan in 2010 (©GettyImages).

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri is one manager who has always divided opinion.

There are people who believe that the 45-year-old ex-Cagliari manager has done a good job steadying a depleted Milan side, whereas other people believe that Milan's problems are due to Allegri's mismanagement of the squad.

One critic also famously stated: "He achieved the impossible - he lost the league with Zlatan."

Anyone who has followed Milan closely over he last three years would have noticed that Milan's game has varied from being absolutely brilliant through strictly average up to being downright appalling. And now, the future of their coach is in doubt with Silvio Berlusconi recently stating that Allegri would join AS Roma during the off-season.

Nothing has yet been written in stone, though, and the manager's future is still very much in the balance. Is Allegri still the right man to lead Milan forward? We examine this case here.

Why Allegri should stay

Milan won the Serie A title for the first time in seven years in Allegri's maiden campaign as manager of the team. With Milan having blessed whim with marquee signings such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Robinho, Allegri bought out the best in his team to trump the previous year's treble-winners Inter and finally end their long hold on the Serie A crown.

His success during his first year was compared to those of legendary coaches Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello, who also delivered the title in their first campaigns as coach. In fact, Allegri's managerial record during the first first two years of his tenure was better than that of the much revered Carlo Ancelotti.

Even though he has not won Serie A in the last two years, it should also be noted that an ageing Milan side was badly in need of reshaping over this period. Injuries to important first-team players also did not help, and Allegri almost never had a full squad to pick from.

Even with such problems, Allegri has delivered Champions League football in each of his three seasons at the club. This season, with Milan having lost their two best players - in the form of Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva - along with the departures of club legends such as Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi and Clarence Seedorf due to advancing age, Allegri still led Milan to the third spot in the table after a difficult start.

With arguably their weakest squad over the past three decades, Allegri has still managed moderate success with the Rossoneri.

Why Allegri should leave

Allegri's mismanagement of Andrea Pirlo is probably the biggest black mark in his managerial career.

Having wrongly evaluated the value of the defensive playmaker to the team, Allegri sidelined the then-injury plagued Italian to the bench, using him sparingly. Pirlo was also not offered a new contract at the end of the season, leading to him leaving Milan for rivals Juventus. And the rest, as they say, is history - with a Pirlo-inspired Juventus winning the next two league titles.

Another incident of gross mismanagement by Allegri was related to Thiago Silva, wherein the manager rushed the player back from an injury for a match against Roma. The Brazilian lasted 10 minutes in the match, and never played for the rest of the season. Without their star defender Milan saw their seven-point lead disappear, and conceded the title to Juventus after appearing to be in the hot seat to retain it.

Also, this season, Allegri's team selections have come under scrutiny with many critics questioning the persistent selection of Kevin Constant over the hugely impressive Mattia de Sciglio at left-back, and the employment of Kevin-Prince Boateng on the wing.

Even when the Rossoneri bounced back after a disappointing start to the season, Allegri still cut flak, as Milan were repeatedly being carried by the once-in-a-century rise of forward Stephan El Shaarawy - with the rest of the team still looking below average.

Milan have since improved and the whole team has contributed, but critics still believe that Allegri has not shown the tactical acumen which is deserving of one of Europe's top jobs.

The verdict

Allegri, sure, is not a flawless manager. But there is no doubting the fact that he has done enough with a depleted Milan side to earn himself an extension.

Surely, finishes of first, second and third while overseeing a period of transition with a vastly inexperienced squad should be enough to prove that the Italian is indeed capable of handling the job. But perhaps, still, the greatest factor that works in Allegri's favour is that he has the player's respect and some of Milan better performers this season such as Riccardo Montolivo, Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy have all come out in vocal support if the manager.

So, for now at least, the verdict is clear: Allegri should stay.

 

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