Il Diavolo continued the appalling start to the season with a 1-1 draw away to low-lying Atalanta courtesy of a late Ronaldinho equaliser. On paper this match offered Milan an opportunity to steady the ship and get back on track against a mediocre side from Bergamo which is struggling to score goals. The reality, however, was a totally different story since the Rossoneri only managed to get level seven minutes before the end despite la Dea playing with 10-men for 50 minutes.
Coach Leonardo is increasingly approaching the end of his Milan stint unless he can inject some urgency into his players and drastically revolutionise the players’ approach to matches, as well as choose the suitable players for a starring role. As previously mentioned, some of the ‘old guard’ will probably step up to fill the leadership void created by Leonardo’s perceived inability to properly convey the message to his charges. Former Italy international Alessandro Nesta played a crucial role in the outcome of the match on Sunday with a series of timely and well-executed tackles along with the precious assist for Ronaldinho’s goal, not to mention having to cover for defensive partner Giuseppe Favalli’s shortcomings.
It is no longer worth pointing out that a number of Leonardo’s decisions have rolled eyes for the wrong reasons since the Milan Club Focus has documented much of his flaws. Besides being inexperienced, the Brazilian Coach has a knack for picking the odd players to fly Milan’s colours with the consequences often calamitous. To put it bluntly, Atalanta’s newly appointed Coach Antonio Conte outfoxed and outthought Leonardo to make sure his inferior team was able to grab at least a point from the match, despite the unfavourable twist a few minutes before the end of the first-half when Ivan Radovanović was sent off.
Leonardo inexplicably continues to utilise players such as Favalli, Gennaro Gattuso and Mathieu Flamini, who are either too old or simply way short of their best form. Had it not been for the much-maligned Brazilian Ronaldinho’s successful volley then Leonardo would have been staring down another defeat. To put matters into perspective, the Orobici has yet to win a match in Serie A this season, on top of being a player down for the remaining 50 minutes of the match and losing star-man Cristiano Doni due to injury in the last 30 minutes. It is borderline incomprehensible and inconceivable to think that a traditional powerbroker in Italian and European football would be allowed to languish in the bottom half of Serie A while also suffering the dreadful loss to FC Zürich at the San Siro in the Champions League.
The pattern of self-destruction must be halted by the club’s management before it is too late to save il Diavolo from early elimination in Europe and domestic humiliation. At this rate we will approach the end of the season with Milan not only struggling to catch up with the top teams but also facing a battle to qualify for European competitions. The current standings are actually misrepresentative of how miserable Milan’s season has been since most of the elite clubs in Italy, namely Juventus and Inter, are still struggling to find their best form. Only seven points separate the Rossoneri from their bitter cross-town rivals. The Nerazzurri has displayed indifferent form up to this point and have only convinced in the crushing victory over il Diavolo when Gattuso was sent off. The fact that their most convincing win of the season came against the Rossoneri speaks volumes of the cataclysmic circumstances defining Milan’s season so far.
The schedule for the Rossoneri will only get tougher as the season progresses, with European matches carrying additional significance since every point counts at this stage if Milan is to qualify from its group. On the domestic front, Milan will be facing Roma in a duel with a fellow underperforming club. Yet, at least the Giallorossi have begun to rebound from the dismal start to their campaign. I Lupi can count on Daniele De Rossi’s fighting spirit and drive to bring out the competitive edge from his teammates while Francesco Totti remains capable of inspiring victories when in top form. On the other hand, the ageing Gattuso’s inability to neutralise opposing midfielders and Brazilian Alexandre Pato’s troubling goal drought imply that the Rossoneri have very limited choices for inspiration. A change in coaching staff can herald a new chapter in what has been a bruising campaign featuring one failure after another for Leonardo in his attempts to inspire his players to play better, stamp authority over the dressing room and choose the most suitable starting line-up. Milan can ill afford to drop more points before the January transfer window.
Milan Club Focus 2009/10
Pre-season expectation – August 18, 2009
Leonardo breathes as Brazilians relieve pressure – August 25, 2009
Kaka returns to the San Siro – August 27, 2009
How to play 4-3-1-2, a lesson from their rivals – September 1, 2009
Reshuffle the current squad, regain the winning mentality – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Leonardo’s time to react – September 7, 2009
Livorno springs opportunity to end crisis – September 11, 2009
Serie A slides down priority list – September 15, 2009
Leonardo lurches into decision-making territory – September 18, 2009
Off the pitch rumours continue to swirl – September 22, 2009
Old legs cannot win forever, will Berlusconi follow in Della Valle’s footsteps? – September 25, 2009
A powerhouse that no longer strikes fear – September 29, 2009
Time is running out to save il Diavolo’s season – October 2, 2009
A draw as bitter as a defeat – October 6, 2009