Club Focus – Milan – Rossoneri stumble as stars continue to misfire

Milan’s injury list comprising Alexandre Pato and Massimo Ambrosini left Coach Massimiliano Allegri with no choice but to start Filippo Inzaghi and Kevin-Prince Boateng. While the veteran Inzaghi did miss an easy opportunity inside the first 15 minutes of the match, he made up for the shocking miss by converting the equaliser following a Ronaldinho assist. As for Boateng, he provided energy and was a willing contributor throughout the match but he does need more time to settle down and become more familiar with his teammates and the system.
Coach Allegri is under mounting pressure and came under heavy criticism for not playing Robinho in Pato’s absence yet many seem to overlook the fact the Selecao star is adjusting to his new club and was resting after suffering from a minor knock. The one argument against Allegri might be his strange choice of substitutes, particularly the late introduction of Gennaro Gattuso which was both confusing and meaningless. Gattuso is of no use when the Rossoneri are looking for a winner and he was not suited for the type of game against Catania, while the timing of the substitution itself was mind boggling. The one positive from this match was the performance of Boateng who showed determination and commitment to the Milan cause.

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Against Catania, Milan were once again exposed at the back and the weaknesses might become costly once the Champions League group stage resumes action. The full-back positions, manned by Daniele Bonera and Luca Antonini, continue to be problematic while Alessandro Nesta is not getting any younger. Thiago Silva has yet to make the big jump from Nesta’s understudy to the leader of the defensive line and the Brazilian centre-back might not develop into the defensive master the Rossoneri are hoping he will become. The club’s defensive frailties have once again highlighted the mistakes committed by Milan’s management in the transfer market as signing a quality full-back should have been a priority. Bonera never lived up to the expectations placed upon him after he emerged in Serie A several years ago prior to joining the Rossoneri.
The other issue which has not been addressed is the ageing, slow and predictable midfield. The midfielders are easily overrun by the younger and faster opponents while Andrea Pirlo continues to be inconsistent for Milan. Clarence Seedorf was a shadow of himself over the weekend and summer signing Boateng cannot by himself tilt the balance in the middle of the park in Milan’s favour. What is more disappointing is the Coach demanded some midfield reinforcements yet the management responded by bringing in two high-profile attackers who are not exactly renowned for their team spirit, work ethic or going back to retrieve the ball. The next match away to Lazio could determine the future of the Coach as a defeat or even an uninspiring draw could lead for growing calls to axe him and find someone more suitable to follow the attacking guidelines demanded by President Silvio Berlusconi. Former Milan Coach Leonardo made declarations against Berlusconi, highlighting the difficulty faced by Coaches who take over the hot seat at Milanello.
Last season the club used Leonardo to reduce the pressure on the ownership, which refused to invest in any major player besides the signing of Dutch flop Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who left this summer. Leonardo was a mere distraction and served as a scapegoat for the Rossoneri management, which attempted to cover the mistakes from the last few years such as the impractical reliance on veterans who are well over 30 years and in the twilight of their career. Against Catania, Inzaghi managed to score once but he also missed a sitter and he cannot be counted upon to play full 90 minutes or more than a match per week as a starter. The fault does not lie with Allegri, yet unfortunately he might have to shoulder the blame and this could see him get fired before the end of the season if results do not start going Milan’s way.
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