Montella's to-do list: What is needed to break AC Milan out of their malaise?

ESPN FC’s Paolo Bandini discusses the hiring of Vincenzo Montella as AC Milan manager.

As new AC Milan coach Vincenzo Montella begins preseason preparations this week, he will have a number of assignments to complete ahead of his first campaign in charge at the San Siro.

Montella, 42, was officially appointed last week. He was taken on a tour of the Milanello training facility and Casa Milan museum on Monday, as he continues to soak in the history and prestige of the club. However, the pleasantries of his arrival will soon come to an end as he focuses on getting his squad in shape for the first game of the season.

Milan President Silvio Berlusconi confirmed on Tuesday that the sale of the club to a Chinese conglomerate will go ahead, and that in turn suggests that Montella will be given significant transfer funds to strengthen his squad, which will help him with this to-do list.

Find a defensive partner for Alessio Romagnoli

With Philippe Mexes and Alex seeing their respective contracts with the Rossoneri expire at the end of last month, defensive reinforcements will be needed.

Gabriel Paletta has returned from a loan spell to join Cristian Zapata and Rodrigo Ely as options at the back, and in turn they provide good depth. But Montella needs to bring in an experienced and talented centre-half to pair with Romagnoli on a regular basis, with the aforementioned trio already having had their chance to secure a regular first-team spot.

The summer transfer market may offer up intriguing options, and it will be key for Milan to put a secure and reliable backline in place upon which they can build their success.

ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti discusses AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi’s possible sale of the club.

Add quality and creativity to the midfield

Milan supporters have been starved of creativity in midfield for too long, with the club opting for industrious individuals instead.

The onus has been on captain Riccardo Montolivo to dictate the tempo of a game, and if Milan really want to take strides forward next season, that needs to be addressed.

Similarly to the defence, they have depth with the likes of Andrea Bertolacci, Juraj Kucka and Andrea Poli. However, for Montella’s ideas to be translated onto the pitch, he’ll need to freshen things up in midfield and bring in players who are much more comfortable on the ball.

Bolster his attacking options

As has been the case for some time, the Rossoneri have too many options in the final third without really getting the necessary return from those individuals. Alessandro Matri returns from a loan spell to join Carlos Bacca, M’Baye Niang and Luiz Adriano as options, while the likes of Jeremy Menez, Suso and Keisuke Honda are also at Montella’s disposal.

While it may have been said in previous summers, some of these players will really have to leave this time around; with the money available and the type of forwards that Montella prefers, some simply don’t fit the criteria.

Giacomo Bonaventura will be key again next season, as will new summer signing Gianluca Lapadula. The former Pescara striker topped the Serie B goal-scoring charts last season with 30 goals in 44 league appearances, and he’ll hope to take that form into the new campaign with his new club.

Vicenzo Montella Vincenzo Montella has a long to-do list to complete if he wishes to break AC Milan out of their malaise.

Develop a clear style of play

Whether it was a 4-3-3, 4-4-2 or 4-3-1-2, Milan never settled with a distinct system or style of play during the 2015-16 campaign. While there were glimpses of the football that they were capable of playing, it wasn’t enough.

Successful teams have a system in place that makes the most of their strengths, and individuals who know their roles and excel in them. That is what Montella must bring to Milan next season, along with tactical flexibility, in order to make the Rossoneri a stable and dangerous unit for their rivals.

Based on his work at Fiorentina in particular, it’s clear that Montella is more than capable of getting a team to play expansive football. It’s hoped that he can do the same at the San Siro next season.

Instil belief and confidence in the squad

Unless there’s a dramatic overhaul of the squad, Montella will be working with many players that have been at the club through their troubles in recent years. Along with working on the football aspects of these players’ game, he’ll also need to work on their mentality in order to break the club out of their malaise.

Regardless of the man in charge, when things start to go wrong, Milan have buckled under the pressure on numerous occasions and lost their way, which is what ultimately resulted in a change on the bench.

New players with fresh impetus can change that, but the coach plays a crucial role in building resolve and belief within the group. If Montella can do that, then the players will have the confidence to go out and play his brand of football.

Sumeet Paul has written for various websites providing Serie A coverage. He can be found on Twitter @SP_Calcio for all things Italian football.

The original version of this story which was published by ESPN can be viewed here.

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