Arsene Wenger Could Be Waiting In The Wings As Gattuso Continues To Struggle At AC Milanby Chloe Beresford / 23 November 2018, 15:24Tweet
A quick glance at the Serie A table shows that AC Milan currently sit in fifth position, just one point behind the Champions League qualification spots. Coach Gennaro Gattuso’s men has done well to keep pace with the rest, and a weekend fixture away to Lazio – the side who are currently just one place above them – where a win would see them leapfrog their rivals into the highly-coveted fourth position.
Yet things are not always as they seem, as a deeper look shows an injury-ravaged squad and a side who have only kept one clean sheet in the league this season. Gattuso has no less than seven first team regulars out through injury and is also missing Andrea Conti and star striker Gonzalo Higuain through suspension.
Much as the boss has kept battling, rumours persist that he is soon to be fired by former team-mates and board members Leonardo and Paolo Maldini, with performance levels erratic to say the least. “It's only right that my position is under discussion,” the boss admitted after a 2-1 defeat to Real Betis in the Europa League at the end of October. “It's difficult for a Coach to sleep after a performance like this, one of the worst.”
It was an honest assessment, but the admission will do little to help him with the dilemma of how to formulate a coherent XI versus Lazio with his three first-choice centre-backs all injured. Reports suggest Gattuso will either drop midfielder Franck Kessie into the backline with Cristian Zapata or create a makeshift back three with just one natural central defender in the middle of the trio.
None of these scenarios are ideal, and while the boss has been unlucky with circumstance, he must also take some of the blame for failing to get this team playing to their potential this season. Former Bologna boss Roberto Donadoni, current Atalanta Coach Gian Piero Gasperini and even Arsene Wenger have been mentioned as potential replacements, while Antonio Conte is of course still ominously available.
Wenger may seem like an unlikely candidate to take charge at San Siro, however the initial report surrounding his potential arrival came from the usually credible France Football magazine. The prospect also becomes a little less far-fetched when considering that Paul and Gordon singer – the brothers in charge of Elliott Management who now own the club – are Arsenal supporters.
The plot thickens even further after the shock departure of Ivan Gazidis after 10 years at the North London club to take on the role of Milan CEO from December 1st. “Ivan Gazidis is a widely respected, highly talented chief executive, and one we expect can lead the club to realise its full potential,” revealed Paul Singer to reporters in mid-September. “Together with Elliott’s continued focus on financial stability and proper oversight, we look forward to on-field success and a world-class fan experience.”
With “on-field success” clearly a priority for the new owners, it remains to be seen exactly how long Gattuso can remain in charge. Replacing him with Wenger may be a case of reporters looking too closely at the situation, but it is certainly clear that new man Gazidis will be looking at how to improve results when he arrives in just a few days time.