David Beckham’s return to Serie A for the remainder of the season in a similar move to last year’s loan stay kicked-off with an impressive 5-2 battering of Genoa. Il Grifone were no match for the Rossoneri’s midfield and attack, spearheaded by Marco Borriello. The striker worked hard and his link-up play with Beckham was quite exemplary given the little time the two have had to practice together.
They will now turn their attention to the much anticipated clash with Juventus in Turin. The Bianconeri are a mere point behind Milan, who have a game in hand, but a loss in Turin would damage the morale in Milanello which is now approaching unprecedented levels. Coach Leonardo, who was once the scourge of the Italian Press, is now being earmarked as the rightful choice to bring back glory to the San Siro. The Coach has done well to stick to his tactics which have brought the best out of Brazilian pair Alexandre Pato and the resurgent Ronaldinho.
Speaking of Pato, the young striker was missing but the presence of Beckham was the perfect tonic for the Milan side as the Englishman whipped in a number of crosses and provided some crucial passes to his teammates. The midfielder was substituted 15 minutes prior to the end of the match to a standing ovation following a positive performance which included the initial ball which led to the second goal and the two passes which resulted in penalty kicks converted by Ronaldinho and the much maligned Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
The absence of Pato would have been the perfect opportunity to field the Dutch striker to assess how he copes without the Brazilian youngster by his side, yet Leonardo chose to keep the player on the bench in another sign the Coach does not rate Huntelaar. Borriello was preferred to the Dutchman and rightfully so as the Italian continued his scoring run at the Giuseppe Meazza by adding a brace to his home tally with the second goal being as good as they come. It appears Leonardo has his mind set on which players will continuously feature in his starting line-up and those who are either confined to the bench or not fit to represent the club’s colours. Huntelaar appears to be stuck in the super-sub role and this may push the striker to seek a move elsewhere prior to the closure of the winter transfer market.
The match was notable for the inclusion of midfield terrier Gennaro Gattuso, given a rare start through the absence of Dutchman Clarence Seedorf. It remains to be seen how Gattuso will be used once both Pato and Seedorf return. Beckham was pushed in a role further upfront due to the Brazilian prodigy’s absence while the usual suspects of Andrea Pirlo and Massimo Ambrosini took their positions in midfield. The presence of Gattuso freed up Pirlo to move further up the pitch, which was a positive sign considering Pirlo was in good form. Gattuso is unlikely to break into the starting line-up given Ambrosini’s stellar performance against Genoa and Beckham’s convincing debut marked by a telling contribution and a plethora of decisive passes.
The defensive line was surprisingly susceptible with the normally infallible Alessandro Nesta making a mistake which led to the second Genoa goal. Nesta’s error was overlooked due to the emphatic score which confirmed Milan in second place. While Nesta’s mistake is out of the norm, the right-back position remains an area of concern for Coach Leonardo. With the aging Massimo Oddo out injured the Coach once again drafted in the speedy Ignazio Abate, but the young man failed to impress and was the Rossoneri’s worst performer. Abate is clearly not the man to take over the troubling full-back spot and it would not be surprising if Milan delved into the market to sign a defender. They will continue to be linked with defenders as long as the struggles in the full-back position continue, while the potential departure of Huntelaar will kick-off a media frenzy linking the side with a number of strikers, particularly Edin Džeko.
Next up for Coach Leonardo and his charges will be a stern test against the struggling Old Lady. The Bianconeri may have escaped the Stadio Ennio Tardini with three points but the pressure is still on their Coach Ciro Ferrara due to the unconvincing performances. Juventus were able to beat Inter in Turin to prolong Ferrara’s stint and a similar result will be needed to extend his troubled stay. The sense of urgency in Turin is perhaps what concerns Leonardo the most as he plans for the weekend clash.
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
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
Berlusconi reiterates he will not sell as the Rossoneri prepare for Roma – October 16, 2009
Brazilian duo see off Roma – October 20, 2009
Rossoneri record famous win in Madrid – October 23, 2009
Leonardo stumbles upon the 4-2-3-1 – October 27, 2009
Two precious points dropped – October 30, 2009
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
The Rossoneri challenging Juventus for second place – November 10, 2009
International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)
Crucial stretch begins as Dzeko linked again – November 20, 2009
Rossoneri continue impressive run – November 24, 2009
Missed opportunity to qualify – November 27, 2009
Huntelaar breaks his duck with a late double to lift Mila to second – December 1, 2009
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
Gattuso to help the aged a little longer – December 14, 2009
Staying away from the market – December 18, 2009
Winter break starts early – December 22, 2009
Beckham lands in town – December 29, 2009
Giants on the transfer horizon – January 5, 2010
Beckham makes second Milan debut – January 8, 2010