The club will not be sold and the club will not sack Leonardo. Those are the statements emanating from various sources within the Rossoneri leadership. The tifosi were hoping for brighter news given the humiliating loss to Zürich in the Champions League. The home defeat against the Swiss side ranks up there with the demoralising loss to Inter since il Diavolo was supposedly going to seek refuge this season in its preferred competition – the European scene in the shape of the Champions League.
Following the home draw against Bari, Coach Leonardo should have shown more urgency prior to the clash against the Swiss, which became much more significant due to the abysmal domestic form. The Brazilian Tactician ultimately failed to spur his charges, making it obvious that he no longer can get through to at least a number of his players. He does not appear to have full control in the dressing room. It is the ability of the Coach to raise the morale and bring out the commitment of the players that singles out the great coaches from the mediocre ones. So far, Leonardo has failed to get the best out of his limited squad and most of his substitutions up to this point fell short of galvanising the team. The majority of supporters, as well as reporters and experts, agree that il Diavolo’s roster leaves a lot to be desired. This, however, does not excuse the defeat to Zürich at the San Siro following a run of listless displays and mediocre results. The sole result that stands out so far this season has been the away win at Marseille, and that came courtesy of an expertly taken brace by Filippo Inzaghi. In fact, the proceedings of the match were leaning towards a draw at best for the Rossoneri, yet Inzaghi rose to the occasion as is his habit when playing in European competition.
The rather tame reaction from Adriano Galliani following the damaging loss in Europe does not bode well for the club and tifosi alike. Galliani simply issued what he referred to as ‘four concepts’ in his statement given to Milan Channel. Il Diavolo’s Vice-President expressed with certainty that the coaching staff and players will remain with the club until the end of the season and concluded that making the Champions League next season is a must, so a top-four finish in Serie A is a priority. A quick glance at the comments shows either a lack of understanding of the difficulties Milan is currently facing, or perhaps even a false sense of belief that this ill equipped group of players can lift the club after a disastrous start. Neither of the above is true and that is precisely why rumours continue to spread about coaching changes and player signings. A host of full-backs and strikers have been recently linked with the Rossoneri, starting with Brazilian right-back Rafinha and most recently Real Madrid’s Royston Drenthe. On the coaching front, the names of Marco van Basten, Delio Rossi and others have been linked to take over from the under-fire Leonardo.
This weekend, il Diavolo travel to Bergamo to face Atalanta in a must win match for the Coach. Any result other than a win should logically seal the fate of Leonardo unless Galliani ends up backing his rhetoric with action. To lose in Europe is one thing, but to fail to beat a winless team in Serie A is a whole different matter. The Rossoneri’s season will take a cruel twist if Atalanta manages to take points from the match and the Brazilian Coach is not fired. The World Cup winner is nearing the end of his managerial career in the San Siro and only a miracle will see him last through the season if three points are not secured, and progression beyond the group stage in Europe is not achieved. Unfortunately for the tifosi, the fixtures only get tougher and they might be in for a long, traumatic experience this season. The next seven matches include clashes against Roma and Napoli domestically, as well as a double-header encounter against Real Madrid. The two games against los Galácticos will offer the Rossoneri supporters the opportunity to reminisce about the wonderful memories involving the Brazilian maestro Kaká. To state that the tifosi would relish having him back might very well be the understatement of the decade. Prior to turning attention to the meetings with los Blancos, the coaching staff and the players must secure victory in Bergamo before the situation gets out of hand. Look to some of the elder statesmen, such as Clarence Seedorf and Filippo Inzaghi, to play a crucial role if given the chance to contribute over the weekend.
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