Club Focus – Milan – Rossoneri return from Florence with a precious win to close in on Inter

Coach Leonardo and defender Alessandro Nesta admitted the official could have easily pointed to the penalty spot when Riccardo Montolivo was felled inside the box, but the two emerged with credit after another scintillating match involving Milan. For the tifosi the matches played by Milan are bringing back memories of recent years when the Rossoneri were perhaps the most entertaining side in Italy, albeit an inefficient one. The first-leg against Manchester United was the most eventful one in the round of 16 in the Champions League, yet Milan was on the receiving end of defeat. Against the Gigliati the match could have easily ended in favour of the hosts but Christian Abbiati was a giant and the referee chose to overlook the penalty appeals.

Leonardo has wisely chosen to stick with Abbiati in goal considering Brazilian Dida has not impressed enough to keep hold of his starting role. Dida was shaky against United and conceded three goals while Abbiati helped Milan win the two matches he has started since being inserted in the line-up. The Italian deserves much credit because his saves ensured the Rossoneri were able to escape from Florence unscathed. Nesta lavished praise on Abbiati following his impressive display, while the goalkeeper himself hailed Ronaldinho for his contribution. The sense of camaraderie is quite evident and is one of the hallmarks of the squad and has helped immensely during the two rough spells endured this season. During the early stretch of the season, when there was talk of firing Leonardo, none of the players added fuel to the reports and even Gennaro Gattuso, who reportedly was aggravated at his apparent lack of playing time, did not release any negative statements directed at the Brazilian Coach.

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With 13 league matches left on schedule and only four points separating Milan from the top, it is quite possible for them to wrestle the title from city rivals Inter. If the bans imposed on the Nerazzurri remain intact then Inter will be susceptible in the coming weeks given Coach José Mourinho will be suspended for three matches and the club will miss key defenders and midfielders for at least one match. This is perhaps the best opportunity for Milan to put the pressure squarely on Inter considering the current uncertainty revolving around their punished Coach and stars. While the Rossoneri must contend with the important return leg at Old Trafford, it would be wrong for the players to marginalise the league as customarily done by il Diavolo’s management in recent years. The likes of Vice-President Adriano Galliani have on more than one occasion in the last couple of years hinted Milan’s priority is to win in Europe. Since the round of 16 kicked-off there has been a steady dose of hearsay pointing to Leonardo’s future as being linked to the outcome of the tie against the Red Devils. If Silvio Berlusconi does indeed believe Leonardo’s future hinges on this tie then he could be passing on a promising Coach. Despite his relative inexperience and perhaps to a certain degree his initial naivety the Brazilian has kept growing during the course of the season and has withstood some tremendous pressure showing he is more than capable of dealing with intense scrutiny.

The Coach has been able to get the best out of underachievers and has maintained a consistent approach with his formations. Ronaldinho’s rejuvenation this season has given him a big hand but to be able to help Ronaldinho, Nesta and Marco Borriello get back on track is commendable. He has shown faith in those players and helped others such as Alexandre Pato to remain on the right path – obtaining maturity while maintaining explosiveness. The Coach and players have done their best considering the circumstances, though the club’s management could be the principal area of concern. The management has not invested in younger players and has failed to bring in a suitable striker considering Klaas-Jan Huntelaar does not appear to be the perfect fit despite his recent goals. Huntelaar, as rightfully deemed by Leonardo, is best used as an impact substitute.

In Florence, Ronaldinho was at the centre of everything positive for Milan while the ageing midfield duo of Gattuso and skipper Massimo Ambrosini struggled to cope with the energy and hustle of their Gigliati counterparts. Preparation for next season starts from now and the management should back its words by providing necessary funds to strengthen the squad as opposed to singling out individuals to vilify when the results go wrong.

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


A win on the pitch but signs of instability emerge
– February 23, 2010


Rossoneri return from Florence with a precious win to close in on Inter
– February 26, 2010

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