The season has taken a twist since the victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League back on October 21, 2009. Gone are the rumours of Coach Leonardo’s dismissal and the potential sale of the club to interested entities from outside the peninsula. As critics can attest to, a positive run highlighted by victories against decent teams can result in a complete change of outlook as witnessed by the growing confidence amongst the Milan players following victories against Roma, los Galácticos and Parma.
Failing to keep in mind the aforementioned clubs are not really solid teams per se – Roma has had to deal with a number of critical injuries and los Blancos have yet to properly accommodate the new signings, while Parma remains a relatively smaller side – the players may fall into the trap of misinterpreting their positive run as if it is an indication the San Siro outfit is now in firm control of its destiny. The difficult start to the season may appear to be behind but the players must be cautious not to be drawn into misguided conclusions.
Italy full-back Gianluca Zambrotta has declared to Tuttosport the squad is seeking to achieve the domestic title and the Champions League. Coming from an experienced player like Zambrotta, who previously featured for elite clubs such as Juventus and Barcelona, it is shocking to have the World Cup winner make such declarations after a brief positive run. Rossoneri legend Paolo Maldini, who retired at the end of last season, probably summed up the situation best in Madrid-based daily Marca, stating that he cannot see the current squad go far in the league and was frank to suggest changes ought to be made in order for the club to challenge for titles.
The remaining fixtures in November will feature three winnable games against Cagliari and Catania in the league and a European clash with Marseille sandwiched in between. Coach Leonardo is obviously aware his side must win those games in order to remain close to second place Juventus while edging closer to qualifying in Europe if all three points are obtained from the encounter with the French club. Leonardo’s troops can probably snatch qualification in Europe before the end of the year if they beat Marseille at the San Siro and then travel to Zurich on December 8 to avenge the embarrassing home defeat. The Brazilian’s strategy must be keeping the attention of his players on each match without looking too far ahead or getting carried away with some bold statements after winning a game. If il Diavolo wins its remaining seven matches in 2009, then the squad can begin to aspire for bigger things such as challenging Inter for the title and competing in Europe.
On the transfer front, midfielder Gennaro Gattuso has been linked with a move to Manchester City, only for the report to be denied by the player’s agent Andrea D’Amico. Gattuso’s form has suffered this year with age and injuries taking their toll on the Italy enforcer, while there were rumours the aggressive midfielder and rookie Coach Leonardo were having difficulty dealing with each other, yet that was quashed by the player’s representative. D’Amico confirmed to Skysports.com his client will not be moving to England as there has been no contact with the directors of City.
Another player who has been facing scrutiny is Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has yet to score his first goal for the side. The striker has found it difficult to fit in with Leonardo’s tactics and create any sort of understanding with fellow striker Alexandre Pato. The Brazilian young star has hit form in recent weeks while Huntelaar has been warming the Rossoneri bench, so it is unlikely the former Real Madrid attacker will feature prominently unless the injury bug hits other forwards. The striker was reportedly on his way out during the January transfer window, only for him to insist he would like to remain with Milan and fight for a starting place.
Huntelaar’s departure will perhaps occur next summer if it does not take place in January since there are growing claims regarding Wolfsburg’s Bosnian striker Edin Džeko. He failed in carrying his country to next summer’s World Cup, but he remains a hot commodity with the likes of Manchester United supposedly interested in his services. The odds are in Milan’s favour if the reports claiming Džeko desires to wear the club’s jersey hold true.
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