Il Diavolo did not take advantage of hosting Marseille as the Rossoneri players failed to impress the tifosi with a shaky performance. For the sake of not being repetitive, the same problems singled out in previous segments of the Milan Club Focus surfaced once again to prove the positive run was not a precursor for better things to come. The usual concerns about the goalkeeping position and both full-backs have recently been compounded by the lack of an effective midfielder who can help shield Milan’s defensive line.
The outburst of midfield general Gennaro Gattuso highlights the problem further as he voiced to Sky Italia his displeasure at not featuring in Milan’s starting line-up. This helped fuel the profuse rumours about his potential departure from the San Siro. Gattuso has been linked with a number of clubs in both Italy and England according to the Italian and English Press. The latest addition to the list of interested parties would reunite Gattuso with a familiar face in the shape of former Coach Carlo Ancelotti, who is now managing Chelsea, the leading team in the Premier League.
It remains to be seen whether the hard-tackling midfield dynamo will leave after more than 10 seasons with the club. Even if Gattuso remains with the side, his presence will not properly address the doubts over the anchor position in midfield as he is out of form and is in steady decline from a physical standpoint. The other reserve midfielder, Mathieu Flamini, has failed to impress since his move from Arsenal in 2008. The Frenchman is a shadow of the player who imposed his game and stamped his authority while featuring for Arsène Wenger’s side. The two starters, in the shape of aging captain Massimo Ambrosini and the inconsistent Andrea Pirlo, do not offer the adequate protection for the defense. The talented Pirlo has been mediocre at best this season while Ambrosini performed admirably in a very limited number of matches, most notably in the Champions League against Real Madrid. The signing of a solid defensive midfielder ought to be one of Coach Leonardo’s priorities as he looks to shuffle his side.
Turning attention back to the Champions League encounter against the French side, the Rossoneri midfield was outplayed while full-back Massimo Oddo’s performance ought to be forgotten and his early substitution (though some attributed it to an injury later confirmed on Milannews.it) is perhaps an indication of his woeful display. Oddo cannot be blamed since he no longer has the legs to duplicate his impressive performances during his Lazio days, when he would roam forward to whip in dangerous crosses, provide extra impetus to attacks and even contribute with assists and goals.
He was most culpable for the goal scored by Marseille but his fellow defenders were not any better. Alessandro Nesta had a rare off-night which made the home side look quite shaky at the back as Gianluca Zambrotta also failed to deliver on the left-flank while Thiago Silva was perhaps the best of a flailing bunch. As disappointing as the draw and the performance were, all is not lost for Leonardo and his troops since a victory against Swiss side Zürich would guarantee safe passage to the next round. Alexandre Pato and Ronaldinho put in a decent performance while Marco Borriello scored again to confirm his role as the leading front man for the club, pushing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar even further out of the San Siro.
The Rossoneri’s upcoming Serie A fixture will see the side travel to Catania in a tricky encounter since Milan suffers when playing against minnow teams which defend vigorously and use an aggressive approach to overpower the players. Midfield schemer Pirlo will be missing as he serves a one-match suspension, which could be a blessing in disguise as a more robust midfielder is perhaps better equipped to face Catania’s players.
Leonardo will be hoping the Brazilian contingent will continue their steady performances, although Dida remains an unknown entity, going from hero to zero in the space of minutes. The Brazilian tactician is probably anxious for the December break so as to offer his old and tired players a welcome rest. He will be hoping the side has remained in Europe by then in order to have more funds to bring in some decent signings. In an inconsistent season the best the rookie Coach can hope for is to take things one step at a time and focus on the next game, a fixture that is certainly winnable.
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