Gennaro Gattuso must show he can lift his Milan players following Coppa Italia defeat

Chloe Beresford by Chloe Beresford / 11 May 2018, 09:53

Anyone who looked at the result from Wednesday evening’s Coppa Italia final will have not been overly surprised by a 4-0 win for Juventus.

The Bianconeri secured a fourth consecutive win of that particular trophy, one they can add to the collection along with the seventh league title in the last seven years that they will likely sew up this weekend.

While their opponents AC Milan have made some small steps in the hunt rediscovering former glories with a change of ownership last summer, it was no surprise that they failed at the final hurdle either, 15 years having passed since they last lifted this particular trophy.

It may not be too much consolation for the 40,000 Rossoneri supporters that packed Rome’s Stadio Olimpico this week, but the scoreline did not accurately reflect just how hard Gennaro Gattuso’s men battled versus the all-conquering Old Lady. The two sides went in at half time fairly even, however in the second period Milan made mistakes they simply couldn’t afford to make versus an opponent so well-versed in the art of winning.

There was no excuse for such a collapse, but their boss summed up the night honestly in his post-match comments. “Football is like that. The result does not reflect the performance, but you pay for errors,” the former Milan midfielder admitted to reporters. “For 56 minutes, we did what we had to and Juve never troubled us other than a Mandzukic header.

“We have to accept it and realise we made our own errors and must accept them. I too am a young Coach, I am learning, I make mistakes and have to figure out where we have gone wrong to improve. We shouldn’t look at the 4-0 result, but rather how we lost it and what we can do to improve.”

It is true that Gattuso does not possess the same coaching prowess as his opposite number Max Allegri, and that was highlighted when the latter made some clever substitutions in a 3-1 league win over his former side back in March. However on Wednesday night Milan simply didn’t have the necessary options on the bench in order to provide any answer to Juventus and in this way their boss should not be faulted.

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At his disposal is a solid core of players in defence and midfield, and a return from injury for right-back Andrea Conti next season should assist Gattuso in this regard. However, with Nikola Kalinic and Andre Silva two summer signings that simply haven’t worked, 20-year-old Patrick Cutrone has been left to shoulder the burden, and here is where the main problem lies.

It is expected that this need will be addressed in the summer, but for now Gattuso has some more pressing concerns, and ones that he will be blamed for if Milan eventually come up short. Their defeat confirmed that both sixth and seventh places in Serie A will now become Europa League qualification spots, but there is a three-way battle to end up there between Milan, Atalanta and Fiorentina.

The San Siro outfit currently sit one point ahead of Atalanta and have three more than Fiorentina but - in a bizarre twist of fate - Milan travel to Bergamo this weekend and host Stefano Pioli’s men on the final match of the season.

While this will be a fascinating battle for supporters, these crucial last two matches will be giving Gattuso sleepless nights. The Rossoneri owners stated that Champions League qualification was a must this season, and while that dream slipped away a while ago, appearing in the Europa League has now become an absolute must.

This is where the inexperienced boss will have to show what he can do, as he must use his famous motivational skills to encourage a young side to forget their tears following the Coppa Italia disappointment, in order that they achieve a grandstand finish to the 2017/18 campaign.

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