When Filippo Inzaghi was appointed as the new manager of AC Milan in the summer, it was a move that raised more outrage than optimism. How, after the brief tenure of Clarence Seedorf, had the job been given out to yet another managerial novice?
How, with the club in severe need of a rebuild, was an experienced candidate not approached? And how, after all the mistakes of last season, could the club be foolish enough to expect immediate success again?
Over the past 20 years, Silvio Berlusconi has transformed Milan from a club on the brink of mediocrity to one of the most swashbuckling sides in the land. But, as another campaign without success looks set to sail on by, whether or not Inzaghi deserves to occupy the helm for a second season remains to be seen.
Pep Guardiola at Barcelona aside, inexperienced managers at big clubs rarely work. Just ask Andre Villas-Boas, whose lack of experience prevented him from ever really making his mark at Chelsea. Therefore, the club’s decision to go with another amateur was one that stirred anger amongst the Rossoneri faithful.
But things started positively after a big summer of change, with new arrival Jeremy Menez particularly to the fore. The Frenchman scored in consecutive wins over Lazio and Parma but cut an isolated figure as Juventus inflicted a first defeat of the season. Even a draw to Emploli had its positives, even if it did come in the form of Fernando Torres’ solitary goal for the club.
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However a narrow defeat to Juventus consequently kick-started a poor run of form, and ever since they have struggled for consistency. Champions League qualification was the chief aim at the start of the season, but even the Europa League now may be a step too far given the competition in the top half of the table.
Inzaghi has wowed certain Milanese players with his managerial skills, but whether or not he is an upgrade on Seedorf is unclear. As is whether he will be afforded more time to build a dynasty at the San Siro.
What may work in his favour is his obvious love for the club and his determination to invest in the right areas. Though Torres and Van Ginkel were miserable summer additions, the Italian spent wisely last month to bring the likes of Alessio Cerci and Mattia Destro to the San Siro.
There is a need for summer spending, but the clamour for an experienced head is understandable. Rafael Benitez would be ideal if he could be snared from Napoli, but a more audacious attempt to prise Guardiola away from Bayern Munich would be a true statement of intent given the Spaniard’s current reluctance to pen a contract extension.
For now however Inzaghi remains the manager of one of the world’s most successful clubs. Whether or not he deserves another season may only be known once the season draws to a close in May.