Milan: A summer of strife so far
The importance of a preseason schedule should not be underestimated, as it gives both the coaches and players the opportunity to ensure fitness levels are where they should be and that confidence grows within the squad ahead of a new campaign.
In Milan's case, confidence will be pretty low after the International Champions Cup finishes, given the heavy defeats they have suffered thus far. After the loss to Olympiacos, Manchester City inflicted a 5-1 defeat on the Rossoneri on Sunday, and the reaction hasn't been positive.
According to Tuttosport, president Silvio Berlusconi was furious with the result against the Premier League champions, and that's understandable given that it's been merely 12 months since Milan suffered a similarly humiliating 5-3 defeat in a preseason game to the same opposition.
Nevertheless, while coach Pippo Inzaghi has taken blame for the disappointment and has promised improvements, context is required in this situation, and ultimately the criticism after the opening two games of the tournament is unfair to an extent.
While the explanations could be interpreted as excuses, it has been almost impossible for Inzaghi to prepare his squad to be competitive. With the World Cup players initially unavailable, the rest of the squad had a short amount of time to prepare after their arrival for the tour. Furthermore, particularly in the case with Man City -- with their domestic league starting earlier -- it is natural for them to be sharper and more match-fit at this stage, and that undoubtedly was a factor in the early moments of the match.
The defeats aren't reassuring, but as Inzaghi pointed out, the performances should be the most important factor during this tour and not the results. Admittedly, it is difficult to ignore the latter, but they should look at the positives, and the team are being made brutally aware of the areas in which they have to work on ahead of what really matters, the start of the Serie A season.
Given the commercial importance of such tours as well as rewarding the club's fans abroad, Inzaghi refused to blame the schedule, unlike other coaches this summer, and it is a testament to his early optimism that he is remaining positive throughout.
In addition, deflecting the blame away from his players and placing responsibility on his shoulders is another characteristic that should be applauded, and there is no use in applying the same early pressure and doubts on him, as was the case with his predecessor. Milan now have their third coach this calendar year, and if the process under Inzaghi is going to work, he will need time to implement his ideas and philosophies.
Rossoneri look threatening in possession and capable of hurting their opponents, and it is particularly enjoyable to watch some of the combination play between the attackers while the midfield looks to move the ball quicker as opposed to the previous laboured tempo.
With the squad becoming more settled as the senior players continue to return to the fold, things will begin to improve. However, ahead of Saturday's game against Liverpool, expect things to get worse before they get any better for Milan. It is vital, though, not to lose sight of the bigger picture.