Milan have had an excellent season so far and much of it is down to their beautiful attack that comprises of big star names. However, with a defence that relies entirely on its central defensive partnership and an ageing midfield, Milan were criticised for being short of pace and defensive guile, leaving them fragile when pitted against tough and fast opponents.
With the recent injury crisis that has left the midfield almost entirely bare, Massimiliano Allegri has had to move his players around and ask for new options. Forced to play with an emergency midfield, comprised of two new signings who have barely had a chance to train with their new club, a youth team player and a central defender, their performance against Sampdoria in the Coppa Italia wowed the crowds and Allegri might have just stumbled across a new method of play and an eventual selection headache.
Packed with energy and pace, Milan’s middle moved seamlessly around the pitch contributing vastly to the offensive line. New purchase, Urby Emanuelson’s keen eye for a pass and tenacious approach to the game allowed him to get up after falling down and still manage to complete a pass to Pato who then went on to convert the effort in sublime manner. Having barely had enough time to introduce himself to the squad, the boy’s passing ability, pace and dribbling technique gave Milan a whole new dimension to the game.
Whilst he’s been known to be somewhat inconsistent in his displays, when he is on form, he has the power to change the balance of the game and produce the incredible. Furthermore, his versatile nature that allows him to occupy any position on the left hand side of the pitch make him a crucial addition to a side cursed with habitual injuries. Alongside the confident and energetic Alexander Merkel, the duo created a dynamic midfield that was pleasing on the eye.
Having spent all that energy in the first half, it was vital that the Rossoneri held on to their advantage and controlled proceedings but with a team void of their usual veterans, Mark Van Bommel’s experience proved vital to secure a victory. Many were sceptical with his arrival considering his past reputation for dangerous play and unscrupulous tackles but it was hard to deny that the man boasts vision and technique certainly worthy of a six month stay.
With the lively youngsters fading out in the second half, it was up to Van Bommel to compose play and he certainly came into his own as time progressed. His perfect tackles, as seen early in the second half, his ability to break up play and his knack at delivering good and simple passes made his inclusion to the team a masterstroke. On a technical level, he can provide more for the team than Massimo Ambrosini. He is better at going forward and he possesses certain finesse to his general play. As for leadership skills, he was often found directing players – telling them where to direct passes and who to man-mark.
Considering that both purchases arrived for virtual pittance, Milan surely are the masters of the transfer market this season. Upon the return of the injured, Allegri will have a tough time allocating starting positions to create a healthy mix of skills. Only then will we see just how good he is at managing egos.