Club Focus – Milan – 2010/11 season preview

Milan’s key players are only getting older and the management is reluctant to spend the money to reinforce the squad, but having talented and experienced players should ensure a top four finish and Champions League football for the following season.

Last Season: The loss of Kaká was compensated for by the revival of fellow Brazilian star Ronaldinho, who propelled the Rossoneri to challenge city rivals Inter for Serie A supremacy. Injuries to key players Alessandro Nesta and Alexandre Pato, as well as David Beckham, ended the title push forcing the club to settle for third place. Leonardo was gone by the end of the season without securing any trophy for the club in his lone year in charge.

The Squad

2010 Summer Transfer Campaign: Milan’s most notable summer signing in an otherwise calm campaign is Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who can play as a right-back or in the centre. He will benefit from training with and playing alongside Nesta and Thiago Silva. The Rossoneri also signed goalkeeper Marco Amelia on loan from Genoa and veteran defender Mario Yepes was signed on a free transfer. Milan’s biggest moves were to retain key Brazilian trio Pato, Ronaldinho and Thiago Silva, who were all linked with several clubs. Milan will be pursuing a policy of promoting from the youth sector as opposed to signing big names.

The Coach: Massimiliano Allegri is a relatively young Coach with limited experience in the top division having only managed one Serie A team before, Cagliari. Prior to that, he had stints with unfancied sides such as Sassuolo. He did lead Cagliari to respectable results and managed to not only secure survival for the Sardinians but also confirm them in mid-table positions, earning the Panchina d’Oro for two consecutive seasons before being relieved of his position. Allegri achieved positive results with limited resources and he will be expected to maintain Milan’s position inside the top three.

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Anchorman: Thiago Silva arrived with little expectation but with the burden of having to replace a retired legend in Paolo Maldini. The Brazilian went about his job with efficiency, dedication and class without demanding much attention or creating any fuss. He is a quality defender who does not make rash decisions and has shown commitment to the cause by rejecting speculation linking him with Real Madrid. The fans will hope he continues to grow and reach new heights.

Playmaker: Ronaldinho went through a revival after a slow start and his return to form coincided with Milan’s rise in the Serie A table. He led all Serie A players in the assist column while managing a respectable 12 league goals. He scored four goals in two matches against Juventus, with two strikes coming in each game. Ronaldinho was not included by Carlos Dunga in the World Cup squad and this should give him added fire to prove himself again this season.

Hot Prospect: It is hard to see anyone from the youth side emerge this season since Milan have a number of veterans who will likely get the chunk of the playing time. However, Allegri is looking for a midfielder and youth player Rodney Strasser, who hails from Sierra Leone, could provide the solution if given ample time to mature and gain experience. Strasser has featured twice for Milan in Serie A in three years but has yet to get any considerable playing time and the Coach’s need for midfielders could offer him the opportunity to shine.

2010/11 prediction: Milan have not invested in players and will rely once more on an aging core formed of Ronaldinho, Nesta, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo as well as young Brazilian Pato and centre-back Thiago Silva. Realistically, Milan have no chance of winning the Champions League because the squad is inferior to the likes of Barcelona, Inter and Manchester United, while winning the league title will be even tougher since Milan do not have the fresh legs to fight through 38 rounds. The club will have to settle for a top four finish and hope to make a run in the Champions League before stumbling against one of the better teams in Europe.

Football Italiano’s prediction: 3rd

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