Club Focus – Milan – Berlusconi voices disapproval

Milan wasted a golden opportunity to kill off Manchester United’s European dream as summer signing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar proved once again his inability to be the missing piece in the Rossoneri attack. Huntelaar might have scored a brace against Udinese but his form during the campaign has vindicated Leonardo’s decision to use him sparingly and rely on Marco Borriello. The Dutch striker does not fit with the current system employed by the Brazilian Coach and he will most likely be offloaded in the summer before he becomes a relative luxury considering the sum paid by the club to bring him to Milanello.

Huntelaar is certainly not to blame for the defeat as the squad collectively failed to hold-off the Red Devils while visibly struggling to contain Wayne Rooney, who is having the best campaign of his young career. The English striker is perhaps one reason why the tifosi should not be too hopeful for the return leg as it is unlikely the current defensive line will be able to restrict Rooney – and even if they were successful other players will benefit from the spacing and opportunities he will create. Rooney showed his predatory instincts when he registered both goals in the second half, but more importantly he dented Milan’s chances of advancing since the Rossoneri must now win by two goals. Milan can score at Old Trafford but the main concern will be at the defensive end as the full-backs have shown time and again they are below par while the solid partnership formed by Alessandro Nesta and Thiago Silva unraveled at the inopportune moment. Nesta was inexplicably subdued and perhaps his recent injury had much to do with it but even at his best he will be hard pressed to limit the raging Rooney.

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Milan’s patron Silvio Berlusconi appears to be unhappy following the defeat as he claimed a better performance from the players would have yielded better results. The latest mini-crisis has once again put the Leonardo under the spotlight and if Milan do exit European competition then it does appear Leonardo will be sacrificed come the end of the season. He has proven to be a hard working and diligent Coach who is committed to his philosophy and tactics. He deserves some of the credit for revitalising Ronaldinho’s career as well as showing faith in Borriello and Nesta while helping to nurture his promising compatriot Thiago Silva. Unfortunately, his decisions against the Red Devils raised a number of questions particularly when it came to starting with Huntelaar, bringing in Giuseppe Favalli when Luca Antonini was forced off injured and for not using Clarence Seedorf’s vast experience. The decision not to fortify the midfield with more muscle using Gennaro Gattuso or Mathieu Flamini was questionable as well.

Huntelaar should not have started, and Seedorf ought to have been a starter with Ronaldinho pushed a bit further up-front and the Dutchman occupying the left-midfield berth. Seedorf is a proven winner in the Champions League having won the trophy with an incredible three different teams – Ajax, Real Madrid and Milan. His late gem was further proof of his abilities. When Antonini was replaced, Frenchman Flamini ought to have been introduced as a full-back despite being a midfielder. Flamini has played in the full-back position before and fresh legs would do better than using an aging 38-year-old Favalli. Flamini also has abundant experience against English teams having played in the Premiership before. Starting both Dida in goal and David Beckham was debatable given the Brazilian goalkeeper is an accident waiting to happen while Beckham was busy all week responding to media inquiries. Beckham would have been best suited to come off the bench, with Gattuso or Flamini in his place.

All these inexplicable decisions by Leonardo showed he perhaps yielded to Berlusconi and fielded a more attacking line-up as opposed to a more robust and ruthless one. Huntelaar and Beckham have more of an attacking hint as opposed to Seedorf and Gattuso. Leonardo showed uncertainty by making uncharacteristic adjustments and this transcended to the Rossoneri players, particularly in the second-half.

In the midst of this difficult period a shocking link has emerged with Azzurri Coach Marcello Lippi being linked with taking over from Leonardo after the World Cup. At this stage it remains mere speculation and is highly unlikely given Juventus were working hard to lure Lippi back to Vinovo.

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

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