Sinisa Mihajlovic may have claimed his first Serie A win as AC Milan coach last time out, but matters behind the scenes appear to be unravelling.
AC Milan began their league campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss at Mihajlovic’s former club Fiorentina.
However, they bounced back quickly with a narrow 2-1 home victory over Empoli at the San Siro, which granted the Serbian his opening points as Diavolo supremo.
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The performance produced against the Tuscan minnows certainly didn’t provide the prettiest spectacle, but summer recruits Carlos Bacca and Luiz Adriano both struck to add polish to an otherwise nervy night.
Probably to the team’s detriment, the international break then came along to abruptly halt Milan’s progress in its tracks.
A clutch of signings were drafted in during the transfer window at no little cost, which was a purposeful effort to herald resurgence from the Rossoneri.
In the space of just a few weeks, their hopes of rekindling past glories in the foreseeable future have all-but extinguished.
Fall-out from two poor league displays, plus a fortunate 3-2 friendly triumph over Lega Pro outfit Mantova orchestrated by maverick forward Mario Balotelli, has disrupted harmony within the camp.
Rumours abounded over the players’ aversion to Mihajlovic’s hard-line regime, with a group of star names said to have complained to higher management figures at the club.
The Serb’s comments after the practice match against Mantova, arranged for those not currently on national team duty, only served to inflame the fires of discontent.
“If we think that we can win just because we are called Milan, then we’re going nowhere,” said the visibly irritated Mihajlovic during an interview with Italian broadcaster Sport Mediaset.
“It was a game we needed to get minutes in our legs – but when someone doesn’t play, they can’t complain, because this performance is why they don’t play.
“I have doubts in every area of the team. We have no excuses. Today those who haven’t played much were given a chance and they showed why they are reserves.”
Mihajlovic subsequently found himself summoned to a dinner meeting with president Silvio Berlusconi and right-hand man Adriano Galliani, where he was reportedly grilled over the bumpy start to the season – an ominous sign indeed after less than three months at the helm.
TOIL AND TROUBLE
While the furore rumbles in the background, Mihajlovic must prepare his beleaguered side for a massive Milanese derby against Roberto Mancini’s Inter, who’ve secured maximum points from the two rounds played so far.
The Rossoneri head into the Derby della Madonnina lacking direction, togetherness and ideas, thus making it even more crucial that AC Milan come out on top in their fierce local battle.
Milan is a club well used to winning titles and trophies, but who are also coming off the back of a hugely disappointing 10th place finish last term.
Owing to such impatience for a return to the glittering success of old, defeat on Sunday could spell the end of Mihajlovic’s era in charge before it has truly begun. Win, though, and it’s an entirely different story.