The Gennaro Gattuso saga has finally come to an end in an anti-climatic fashion as a brief message on the club’s official website confirmed the veteran will play on with the Rossoneri till June 2012.
The Azzurri midfielder has been a loyal servant but recently sent out mixed signals regarding his future. His frustration was visible and reports were claiming his relationship with Coach Leonardo had reached a delicate point. His contract extension indicates Gattuso’s main concern was strictly playing time and not club politics or coaching issues. The reason discussing Gattuso’s decision is relevant hinges on the fact his stay indicates the Rossoneri are unlikely to delve during the January transfer window in search for a midfield enforcer. This leaves the club’s management with the task of securing a full-back and potentially a striker in case Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is shown the door. Huntelaar has failed to start despite his winning double against Catania in injury-time a couple of weeks ago.
Gattuso’s declaration of loyalty is certainly short-term good news but ultimately could be detrimental to his club’s progress. He is unfortunately in a steady decline physically while his position demands the highest attention to the physical attributes of a player. At this stage of his career Gattuso is unlikely to deliver the performances the tifosi were accustomed to a couple of years ago and this will reflect negatively on him and the side if Leonardo opts to use him frequently. The agreement to keep Gattuso will delay at least for another season the required injection of new blood in the central and defensive midfield department. Captain Massimo Ambrosini is likely to stay and fight Gattuso for the starring role while Andrea Pirlo is safe due to his unique characteristics. The unfortunate news for the tifosi is all three players are on a constant decline which cannot be halted.
On the pitch and to the uninspiring home defeat to Palermo. The writing was on the wall as the players’ displays time and again provided a glimpse of their wavering physical condition not to mention the Coach has to contend with the lack of depth once a player is out injured. Against the Rosanero a few inferences can be made as Leonardo had Alexandre Pato come off the bench and was missing Thiago Silva in defence due to injury. The initial absence of Pato deprived il Diavolo from an extra dimension normally offered by the Brazilian’s pace on the ball and his spontaneous approach. The puzzling move remains Huntelaar’s lack of playing time which was previously referred to on these pages as he has not been rewarded for his winning brace against Catania. This certainly will affect the confidence of the Dutch striker if he remains in Milan. The fact Marco Borriello is starting three matches a week might be a bit overwhelming considering he recently began his return to full-fitness so why is Filippo Inzaghi confined to a cameo bench role and Huntelaar almost banished altogether? They surely deserve more playing time and not necessarily on a regular basis.
Rotation will become essential as the season progresses, particularly if the Rossoneri remain in Europe for an extended period. Playing three games inside a week on a regular basis will cause muscular fatigue and consequently increase the chance of injuries. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out and it is surprising the coaching staff at Milanello have not weighed the options carefully considering the aging and tiring legs of many of the stars. Against the Rosanero, seven of the starters were on the wrong side of 30 and none of them were younger than the 23-year-old Ignazio Abate. Leonardo deserves credit for sticking with his lineup and tactics but he has yet to impress and the positive run of late was the fruition of a mix of his tenacity, the excelling of certain players, other results going Milan’s way (in Europe) and of course the inconsistency of Serie A’s other clubs. Other than Inter, sides have been alarmingly inconsistent, in particular Juventus and Fiorentina. Milan may have wasted the opportunity to close the gap on Inter, but following the dismal start, Leonardo’s Rossoneri are just five points behind the leaders.
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