It seems no matter who is in charge at Milan, there is an unrelenting aversion to giving youth players a chance. The match against Ajax highlighted this. In a game that Milan had only pride to play for after qualification was secured on match day 5, it was a fantastic chance for Allegri to give some of Milan’s youth players a chance at the big stage.
But, this did not occur as Allegri stubbornly kept faith in the same old tired legs that Milan have relied upon for ten years. Perhaps he made this decision in an attempt to ensure a positive result. In the end, however, it was because he selected the same old bunch of players that the Rossoneri came undone to a superior Dutch side.
The likes of Clarence Seedorf, Andrea Pirlo, Gianluca Zambrotta and even Massimo Ambrosini cannot last a whole season playing so many matches as is being demanded of them. These players know this and this surely was one reason why they put in such poor displays in the midweek tie.
What exactly Allegri expected of these players is not clear. These players are seasoned professionals but they would be fully aware of their own physical limitations. For this reason, surely Allegri was not expecting fireworks from them. These players know that if there is one game in the season that they could take it a little easy it was this one.
Since a result was not required, Allegri should have thrown on a line up with 7 or 8 youth players, alongside a couple of older heads. The experience of playing in a fixture like the one on Wednesday night would have been invaluable to Milan’s younger numbers. If these players were allowed to gain from such an experience, the club would only serve to benefit in the future, whether they keep the players or not.
For a team that possesses so many veteran players, it is unfathomable how Allegri does not attempt to inject some youth into the team on a regular basis. But, even more incomprehensible, when given the chance like what was presented on Wednesday night, Allegri should have given the likes of Merkel, Strasser, Verde and De Vito the chance that they deserve.
Watching Milan play through the motions on Wednesday night with no apparent desire to win was almost saddening to watch. Had a number of youth players been given the chance, we would have most likely have seen a Milan side full of hunger, energy and commitment as these young players would undoubtedly taken to the match like it was their chance at the big time.
To be clear, Allegri’s achievements so far this campaign have been incredible. Given the circumstances, the young coach has really started to prove himself recently. However, his aversion to giving youth a chance, especially in matches of little importance, is mystifying.
But perhaps the problem is not Allegri, but Italian football in general. If one takes a look at the team rosters in Italy, one will find a host of older players still plying their trade at some of the biggest clubs in the country though they may be well past their prime. Moreover, many of these players continue to play key roles for their clubs too.
Regardless of the situation, Allegri needs to start utilising youth players. Surely, if a youth player is playing in the reserve team for a club like Milan, they must have some talent. But talent by itself is useless unless it is allowed to develop and through experience there is no better way.