I judge a manager, whatever his level of experience, mainly on how many of our players are performing near their best. Since the start of the season I have seen perhaps 5 players operating regularly near their best. Ronaldo, Rabiot, Danilo, Morata, Juan…Pirlo made the choice to force his system onto the squad, rather than to begin with some foundation of a 4-3-whatever we have been playing with for some time and have the players to naturally go into that system.
The morale has been good, but we rarely look like a team comfortable in the system, winning mainly due to a few moments of individual quality, rarely a start to finish cohesive effort. The system does not suit the players, but Pirlo seems fixated upon solely swapping the players to try find the fit he believes must happen.
When Conte came to the club he was relatively inexperienced also, and had his system. Yet he created a new set of tactics after analysing the squad. He looked to find and maximise our strengths. I had hoped Pirlo would do the same, admittedly very different circumstances but still, I expected him to use that renowned vision to study deeply how to get the best out of the squad. Instead, he has started with his system of hopes/dreams/philosophy and tried to shoe-horn everyone into this. Players are often out of position. Mckennie is a box to box midfielder starting more RM then tucked in. Chiesa has often been playing LM when he is a specialist RWF and often even a CF/SS last term. Bentancur looks a lost soul. Dybala has been cursed by some mean gypsy at a village fete. Ramsey showed signs of life but has once more become out of sync. Arthur is missing Barcelona. Kulu is playing all over the field – after his superb form as a RWF last season Pirlo is not playing to his strengths at all, instead teaching him to play in many roles across the field.
Defensively we have been horrible…Mainly due to the midfield and flanks unbalanced. This double pivot in front of defence does not look solid. We don’t seem to dominate in any area of the field other than in the final third when Ronaldo is playing.
No chance I am joining the hysterical calls for Pirlo to be OUT…but we are not in good shape, we are not playing well, there appears no growth, more players uncomfortable than comfortable and Pirlo is making plenty of mistakes. Yes he is new to the management routine but I am more worried of his arrogance and thesis focus than his inexperience alone. He must see that we are not growing into his system or perhaps in training we look very different, and the promise of everything falling into place is there?
Resting Ronaldo is another issue – yet more confirmation of very bad management. Who made that decision? Similar has happened with some of our games deep in the South against lesser opposition under different managers and so is this in his contract? We are paying him EU31m (plus taxes) per year to stay at home to relax when we play the weak sides in the South of Italy??? At least have him on the bench, traveling with the team, his presence even off the field would help drive the side to victory.
Yet the idea of us needing him to defeat the worst defence in the league is more concerning. The reality is we should be beating Benevento easily. We should not be struggling at home to Ferencvaros to win with a very fortunate goal.
It was not long ago that I was writing that the club, at all levels of management up to Andrea Agnelli was in a shambles. That has not changed…