Another season of pure underachievement has drawn to its close for AC Milan. I’m sure that supporters of this club are nearly at the end of their tether as the club continues to retreat further and further into the shadow of its former self with no signs of improvement anywhere in sight. This season has been one of patterned inconsistency- a bad patch of form at the beginning, a somewhat impressive middle part of the season and then another bad patch of form to conclude the season. It has been a Milan showing that cost Leonardo his job and leaves onlookers guessing about what the future holds for this faltering club.
In Milan’s defence, they have already started on plans to pick the club up and ready it for next season. Looming is the appointment of a new manager, reportedly in the form of former Cagliari tactician Massimiliano Allegri. He has done a decent job at Cagliari, despite being sacked in April. He is 42 years old and was awarded the Panchina d’Oro in back to back seasons as a result of gaining the plaudits of fellow Serie A managers for his accomplishments at the lowly club, which included cementing Cagliari’s status as a mid-table club and even inspiring the sparkling form of three of his players, which ultimately led to their inclusion in the Italian national team. He also made Cagliari a joy to watch as they brought wonderful, attacking football to the Serie A.
We all know that AC Milan show eye-catching, attacking endeavor. As a matter of fact, Leonardo had the players playing as though they were dancing to a Samba beat. However, while I think Allegri could be a decent manager for the club, I stand by my belief that the manager is not the problem. Honestly, I believe that the problem lies within the aging squad. A shake-up is definitely needed if AC Milan are to recapture their glorious days of unprecedented success. With that said, what kind of reinforcements does the club need if they are to rise up and knock neighbors Inter Milan off their perch?
For starters, they need a decent ‘keeper. Dida, at times, showed flashes of his former self between the sticks, but most times, his age exacted its toll. Added to that, Christian Abbiati has struggled for form and fitness since returning from his long-term injury. So, an assured ‘keeper is needed. The defence also needs some sprucing up. The likes of Nesta and company aren’t getting any younger and so, some fresh, young defenders are needed to partner the impressive Thiago Silva and give the onrushing attackers something to morbidly fear. The full-back positions also need some attention, as Zambrotta and company are losing form and fitness. Luca Antonini has done well for himself of late, but I still think that some new, young faces are needed across the back-line.
As for midfield, Ambrosini, Gattuso, Seedorf and Pirlo are proving to be evergreen. Yet, more spark, flair and pace are needed if Milan are to keep up with Europe’s most elite clubs. I still lament the decision that Milan took to sell Yoann Gourcuff. He is such a remarkable talent. Not a lot of players can draw comparisons to the great Zinedine Zidane with such ease. Laurent Blanc unearthed a real gem and it’s widely expected that the Milan cast-off will prove to be the shining light of a lackluster France side at the upcoming World Cup. Milan could have used the supremely technically-gifted Frenchman, especially in the aftermath of Kaka’s exit. A midfield maestro often proves to be a source of inspiration and motivation for a team. You only have to look as far as the likes of Frank Lampard for Chelsea, Cesc Fabregas for Arsenal, Xavi for Barcelona and Steven Gerrard for Liverpool to see what I mean.
As for the strike-force, I think Milan have a decent arsenal of potent weapons up top. Borriello has found some form, while Pato will return stronger than ever from injury. Ronaldinho has recaptured the joy he once had for the beautiful game and so he is playing some of his best football. Huntelaar, although not at his best, is getting more games under his belt. So, I don’t think much reinforcements are needed up top. In a 4-3-3 system, which Milan often uses, up top a fit Pato would start on the right, Borriello through the middle and Ronaldinho on the left. Huntelaar would provide backup for Borriello. As for the outer positions though, I would suggest that proper cover for Pato and Ronaldinho be bought.
So, that’s basically what AC Milan needs- young, fresh faces to reinvigorate a side lacking panache. With that said, I would have liked to have seen Leonardo given another chance to drive a new-look AC Milan forward. In my opinion, he showed a lot of promise for someone who had no prior managerial experience. Bearing in mind the kind of resources he had to work with, I think he did a decent job. For a while, he gave Jose Mourinho and Inter Milan a run for their money, before eventually running out of steam in the end. Oh well, hopefully Milan’s new manager can give a sharp nudge to a club that’s slowly falling into a deep sleep.