I'm definitely not trying to draw any comparisons between this team & those aforementioned! Quite the contrary really, as to a specific criterion I seem to elevate more than you do - efficiency. Take away Bierhoff's headers from the 99 season, alongside the pts, and we probably won't be champions regardless the tremendous job Leonardo, Weah & co did! The ultra defensive mentality during the 94 domestic campaign is a masterpiece in itself, but winning a league title on 36 goals in 34 games!! That's just insane.
Who can seriously criticize any of that? Mind you, it's on the back of some half decent football as well nowadays, no total flukes..... And I'm not exactly sure why it seems a total surprise we can actually defend, both collectively & individually!
I'll reiterate my disagreement with the team's direction under Gattuso, but he's getting the results. Nothing to do for me except to keep hoping the guys can continue executing the very limited range of tactics/game plans, even if it's unrealistic to expect crazy conversion rates for instance, I agree on that.
I get it. Again, though, I don't mind the defensive mentality and it's not about aesthetics. I used to care about that before: I was one of those fans giving shit to Bierhoff non-stop, but now I wouldn't mind if that was the plan and we were consistent and good about it. I get that we need results, we can demand champagne football when we're decent again.
However, it's one thing to switch to a three-men defense, to get Helveg and Guly to make dozens of crosses to Bierhoff in the box, etc. , and another to expect Piatek to score a volley from outside the box with his back to the goal and to rely on Donnarumma to make 2-3 extremely tough saves per game. It's also quite a different thing to play Desailly and Albertini in front of the kind of insane defense we had in 94' than to play 10 men in our own half all games and expect miracles upfront every single game.
You all know I've been a pretty staunch supporter of Gattuso all this time, because he's been good in term of results and because he has not been afraid to try stuff when needed, he has been good about sticking with players when he felt they needed support, and he brought stability after the Montella mess and the general uncertainty of the club. But I do feel like we've stopped progressing lately. Right now I don't see our current performances as an improvement.
Last year's good run actually implied a huge improvement over how we played under Montella. This year's run we're playing the same level as earlier in the season, just with a couple better players and a GK in great form. There's been some improvement in defense, generally a better understanding between them after all the time playing together, Bakayoko doing a decent job in front, and the team playing extremely deep helps them... but Romagnoli is not playing better than three months ago, Musacchio is mostly in the sense of not making savage mistakes every other game and not much more than that, Rodriguez is a similar case, and only Calabria has really improved. Clean sheets don't tell the whole story I don't think, especially since the ones in the League have in several cases been against weak teams.