Problems facing Milan in 2014

Posted by Sumeet Paul

Claudio Villa/Getty ImagesManager Massimiliano Allegri will be pushing Milan to perform better in 2014. If they don't, pressure to replace him will surely increase.

It has been a tumultuous season for Milan thus far, with four wins, seven draws and six defeats leaving them 17 points adrift of the top three in Serie A while just five points above the relegation zone. The latter isn’t likely to be a concern moving forward, but the inability to catch their rivals at the top is a real issue. So, what problems will Massimiliano Allegri and the club likely face next year?

As has been a problem for the Rossoneri in recent years, their financial position will be weakened if they are not playing Champions League football next season. While in the short term they will benefit from being the only Italian club in the knockout stages this year, it remains to be seen whether or not they are forced into another cost-cutting programme or are merely limited in their movement in the summer.

Much has been said about returning to the philosophy of nurturing talent through the youth system, but given the ongoing recruitment of foreign players, there appears to be a degree of contradiction. Keisuke Honda’s arrival will undoubtedly prove to be a shrewd move both on and off the pitch, but moving forward is there still a clear direction of how to develop the squad?

The next two problems are interlinked and can also be attributed to their failure this season, which will have a knock-on effect in the long term. CEO Adriano Galliani and owner Silvio Berlusconi take great pride in reguarly reminding the supporters of how successful the club has been, but without more recent success the image and prestige of the club are likely to be affected.

Milan, both as a football club and a brand, is highly successful around the world, and part of that can be attributed to the individual talent that they have possessed over the years. If the current playing staff is unable to live up to the name, then there is a danger that it could negatively impact the popularity of the club.

Furthermore, certain players in the squad do little to help the reputation of Milan, with unnecessary dismissals and needless actions on the pitch. With so many of the old ‘senators’ no longer around, the discipline within the squad has perhaps diminished and that is something the players must take responsibility for.

Many of the problems outlined in this piece can be linked, and the same can be said of the next issue which relates to the current playing style. It is important to recognise that it was always going to be an almost impossible task to replace some of the former stars in the squad, but there is enough talent still available to make the Rossoneri a much more attractive proposition.

Personally speaking, it is bitterly disappointing to see Milan engage in boxing match-like clashes with supposedly lesser clubs where their quality is suffocated. If there is no change in the playing style in the New Year, then Allegri's successor (if he leaves) will perhaps face a difficult task in altering the mindset and system within the squad.

Lastly, many of the aforementioned problems revolve around Allegri and what he is able to achieve in the second half of the season. It is unlikely that a change will be made which is a sensible decision, but with his contract renewal up for discussion in the summer, it remains to be seen if he does enough to save his job.

Having long defended him against criticism, if there is no sign of the club evolving and improving in the first part of 2014, then change is required. Considering the front office will now move forward with Barbara Berlusconi sharing responsibility with Galliani, perhaps a bold decision is required elsewhere to ensure Milan don’t fall further behind their rivals.

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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