After the defeat to Parma I was disappointed, and eventually that disappointment, which I’ve felt far too often already this season, lead to an idea.
We didn’t look like a top two team on Saturday. It didn’t click in the final third, we improved when Icardi came on, but overall I didn’t feel there was enough attacking intent. And the midfield stood out.
We should be playing two 8’s against teams that will sit back. We actually did this more often than not on Saturday. However, Gagliardini, who played the role on Saturday, lacks the attacking know-how to play there. He is a defensive ball winner, his mistimed runs into the box and lack of killer instincts in advanced positions underlined this.
In the future, I believe Joao Mario is better suited to this midfield role. He has attacking intent and the engine to work hard in the role alongside Brozovic and Nainggolan. Last season there was a game where he was forced to play as a 6 due to injuries. I think we won convincingly, and I was impressed that even in that deep position his first thought was always forward.
Against teams like Parma that’s exactly what we need, someone who can play a forward ball, time a run into the box and create space for others to exploit.