ROME: Two impressive wins against Serie A leaders Juventus and second-place Lazio have left AC Milan fans happy, but at the same time perplexed as they ponder the club’s overhaul plans for the next season.
The Devils were devastating late Tuesday against Juve, rallying from two goals down with three goals in five minutes and adding a late effort for a memorable 4-2 win.
The turnaround came three days after a 3-0 drubbing of Lazio in a run of four wins and one draw since the June 22 restart after the coronavirus lockdown, with the Devils poised to secure a place in the next Europa League.
But the run-up to the classic with Juve had bordered on absurdity, amid reports confirming the arrival next month of German Ralf Rangnick with both coaching and sporting director duties, which would seemingly lead to the sacking of Stefano Pioli and club icon Paolo Maldini, respectively.
“Will there be room for me? I don’t know, I want to finish this season well,” Maldini, a retired star defender with 25 seasons as Rossonero, said minutes before the classic.
“We still have a lot of games, we can get some good results, then we can think about our future.”
Coach Pioli, who took over from Marco Giampaolo in October, focused on current matters as he was questioned about the following season.
“I expect to end the league well and clinch the result we were hired for [an Europa League place],” he said. “My desire is to coach. I like to be with teams I am well with and I have found one. Then we will see on Aug 3 [the day after the league ends].”
Pioli has taken Milan from 14th to a current fifth place and has displayed great football in the crowded schedule of the restarted season, while fitting veteran ace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who arrived in January, into his team loaded with youngsters.
Now fans and commentators wonder what is the point of starting once more from zero, albeit under the widely respected Rangnick.
The German is a former coach at Hoffenheim, Schalke and RB Leipzig, and was sports director at Red Bull Salzburg and Leipzig. Both clubs are owned by energy drinks makers Red Bull who Rangnick currently represents as Head of Sport and Development Soccer.
The coaching changes at Milan have been incessant since Massimiliano Allegri ended his three-and-half-year tenure in 2014, lifting the Devils’ last domestic title in 2011.
Mauro Tassotti, Clarence Seedorf, Filippo Inzaghi, Sinisa Mihajlovic, Cristian Brocchi, Vincenzo Montella and Gennaro Gattuso were then hired, but always failed to qualify for the Champions League, a trophy the Devils have won seven times – with Maldini tallying five.
In 2019 they could not play the Europa League for infringing financial fair play rules despite being owned by Elliott, a major US management firm.
Elliott appointed Ivan Gazidis as director general in 2018, but the former Arsenal official has not yet found a steady course for the club.
Fans were disgruntled when chief football officer Zvonimir Boban quit in March over alleged differences with Gazidis and their mood won’t improve in case Maldini also leaves.
Even worse, they could not be at the stadium, due to coronavirus restrictions, to cheer Pioli and the boys. – dpa