No need to panic about Gooch

AC Milan Onyewu SoccerGooch did not make the subs bench in Milan’s Champions League debut against Marseille. He has yet to make an appearance yet for Milan and he did not dress for their last Serie A game against Livorno. There is reason to be concerned, but no reason to panic. And there is certainly no reason to blame Gooch as Jason Davis at Match Fit argues.

Why not panic?

First, Milan is going to play a lot of games. With league, champions league, and domestic cup competitions he will get his time to prove himself. The other defenders are almost all in their 30s (with the exception of Silva) and as the season wears on injuries are almost a certainty along that backline with Nesta 34, Kahka Kaladze 31, and a series of other players in their 30s, Gooch should by seasons end received plenty of playing time.

Second, if he was going to go to a big club and not play it would be Milan.
Its training and fitness facilities are world class and he is training against great players, which means we should not expect a big drop off in his national team performances come October.

Third, we should have anticipated a slow transition for Gooch. Expectations that he would suddenly be given the starting job were probably unrealistic. Onyewu has never played in Serie A or against top champions league competition and in moving to any league there is a significant period of transition. Better that he is brought along slowly than simply thrown into a poorly playing team where he could draw ire of disappointed Milan fans.

Fourth, Milan is playing badly and Leonardo is on the hot seat.
This has positive and negative repercussions. On the negative side, it means Leonardo is probably going to play it safe and manage every game as if it were his last. Therefore he would be reluctant to give an American and Serie A virgin a debut win every game is potentially do or die for him. Furthermore, it means Leonardo is less likely to take the long view and adopt a consistent rotation policy since he may be more focused on lasting the month than the season. On the positive side, however, the lack of a rotation is unsustainable over the course of the year. Additionally, Gooch is in no way responsible for Milan’s poor play and at times shoddy defending. And if a new coach is brought in he would have a fresh start.

Look, there are reasons to be concerned about his lack of playing time, especially if he is consistently doesn’t make the bench. And his lack of playing time has near term implications for the upcoming qualifying games in October. But, assuming we qualify, there should be little reason to panic about his ability to preform in the World Cup in June.


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