Club Focus – Milan – A win on the pitch but signs of instability emerge

The Rossoneri successfully passed their first test following the European disappointment with a 2-0 win thanks to the returning Marco Borriello and young striker Alexandre Pato. Both players highlighted their importance to the club by scoring and showing the Rossoneri do have finishers who can convert scoring opportunities.

Against Manchester United, striker Borriello was sorely missed with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar unable to duplicate the consistency and perform the tasks expected of a central attacker in Coach Leonardo’s formation. The Brazilian might be deemed inexperienced but he has shown time and again he has a clear idea of how he wants the team to play and he is well aware of the players best equipped to implement his strategies. The club’s deficiencies cannot be blamed on Leonardo because he inherited the majority of the squad, with the exception of a few players. The management failed to fortify the squad as needed with no reinforcements signed to fill in the full-back positions, but Leonardo has shown he is capable of adapting to circumstances. He gave Christian Abbiati the task of protecting Milan’s goal and the Italian succeeded in preventing a late penalty-kick from rattling his goal. While he is not the flashiest of goalkeepers, Abbiati remains a more reliable alternative to the butter-handed Dida.

The mini crisis in Serie A and the recent defeat in the Champions League have once again reignited talk of whether Leonardo will be the Coach when next season starts. It appears every time Milan go through a slump the disappointing results are accompanied with talk of Leonardo nearing the axe. Vice-President Adriano Galliani came out and spoke in support of Leonardo, stressing the management is fully behind him, including President Silvio Berlusconi. The fact Galliani mentioned the club’s patron in name shows there might be some truth to the rumours of dissatisfaction brewing amongst the Rossoneri and particularly the irritated Berlusconi, who blasted the team’s performance in the Champions League. Berlusconi’s claims regarding the displays could be seen as a veiled attack against Leonardo, since he chooses the players and decides on the tactical approach of the team.

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Leonardo responded through the Press assuring everyone he is calm but insisted he would leave if Berlusconi wanted. No matter how hard Galliani tries to paper over the differences it has become obvious there are dissenting views within the club. Even the incongruous connection with Marcello Lippi was made in recent times yet it did not generate any credibility as Lippi would more likely head to Vinovo to take over, with the Bianconeri desperately after him. Ironically one common feature between Milan and Juventus is the fact they gambled on young and inexperienced Coaches with the decision backfiring, particularly in the case of Juve.

Leonardo will survive this season but inconsistency means he is increasingly likely to be either relieved of his duties or get pressured into quitting to make it seem the club’s management chose him and showed faith in him. Yet he is the one who could not handle the demands of managing an elite club. Public perception is quite important at bigger clubs as proven in the case of the Bianconeri, where the club stuck with Ciro Ferrara till it became too risky to do so with the rookie Coach unwilling to personally step aside. The Josep Guardiola experiment, in reference to Barcelona’s successful choice of picking a young Coach from within its ranks, has failed miserably in Turin, while it has generated mixed results in Milan.

Leonardo’s main test will come at Old Trafford and if he can overcome Manchester United then he will most likely be returning next season – as long as the Rossoneri finish inside the top three in league standings. Milan’s campaign for next season has actually begun as the club must carefully judge which players are needed and who must be offloaded. They will definitely need to invest in at least one, if not two, full-backs to address a troublesome area while a young centre-back needs to be added and groomed under the guidance of the impeccable yet aging Alessandro Nesta.

One player who will likely seal his future with the club is Ronaldinho, who impressed against Bari despite failing to score. The Brazilian’s performances seem to play a significant role when it comes to the club’s fortunes. Ronaldinho has put behind rumours regarding his partying habits and is responding well to criticism. At Old Trafford, he will be the integral cog which will serve as the fulcrum for Milan’s chances of qualifying to the next round. On the other end Nesta will need to be at his best to try and restrict Wayne Rooney.

Milan Club Focus 2009/10

Pre-season


Pre-season expectation
– August 18, 2009

Week 1


Leonardo breathes as Brazilians relieve pressure
– August 25, 2009

Week 2


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

Week 3


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

Week 4


Off the pitch rumours continue to swirl
– September 22, 2009

Week 5


Old legs cannot win forever, will Berlusconi follow in Della Valle’s footsteps?
– September 25, 2009

Week 6


A powerhouse that no longer strikes fear
– September 29, 2009

Week 7


Time is running out to save il Diavolo’s season
– October 2, 2009


A draw as bitter as a defeat
– October 6, 2009


The club is not for sale
– October 9, 2009

International week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)


In search of strikers and defenders
– October 13, 2009

Week 8


Berlusconi reiterates he will not sell as the Rossoneri prepare for Roma
– October 16, 2009


Brazilian duo see off Roma
– October 20, 2009

Week 9


Rossoneri record famous win in Madrid
– October 23, 2009


Leonardo stumbles upon the 4-2-3-1
– October 27, 2009

Week 10


Two precious points dropped
– October 30, 2009

Week 11


Borriello strikes twice as Milan continue climbing the table
– November 3, 2009


A bitter draw after Pato’s disallowed ‘goal’ as Huntelaar emerges unscathed
– November 6, 2009

Week 12


The Rossoneri challenging Juventus for second place
– November 10, 2009

International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)

Week 13


Crucial stretch begins as Dzeko linked again
– November 20, 2009


Rossoneri continue impressive run
– November 24, 2009

Week 14


Missed opportunity to qualify
– November 27, 2009


Huntelaar breaks his duck with a late double to lift Mila to second
– December 1, 2009

Week 15


Season-defining week looms ahead
– December 4, 2009


Sunshine glimmers from the San Siro, but those clouds won’t leave
– December 8, 2009


Qualification secured after a scare
– December 11, 2009

Week 16


Gattuso to help the aged a little longer
– December 14, 2009

Week 17


Staying away from the market
– December 18, 2009


Winter break starts early
– December 22, 2009

Winter break


Beckham lands in town
– December 29, 2009


Giants on the transfer horizon
– January 5, 2010

Week 18


Beckham makes second Milan debut
– January 8, 2010

Week 19


Ronnie puts the breaks on in Turin
– January 12, 2010


Weakened Rossoneri scrape by Novara
– January 15, 2010

Week 20


Ronaldinho is enjoying playing again and soaking in the love
– January 19, 2010

Week 21


Milan derby looms large
– January 22, 2010


Inefficient Rossoneri surrender to Inter’s title assault
– January 26, 2010


Coppa Italia defeat reveals once again the lack of depth
– January 29, 2010

Week 22


Mancini joins from Inter
– February 2, 2010

Week 23


Rossoneri trying to regroup amid rumours about Ronaldinho’s partying
– February 5, 2010


Another draw as the Rossoneri drop to third
– February 9, 2010

Week 24


Rossoneri must start winning to build confidence and save Leonardo
– February 12, 2010


Nesta and Pato return to help boost Milan ahead of the season’s most important match
– February 16, 2010

Week 25


Berlusconi voices disapproval
– February 19, 2010


A win on the pitch but signs of instability emerge
– February 23, 2010

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