Il Diavolo wasted two extremely valuable points which would have placed the club in the all-important fourth spot permitting qualification to Europe’s elite competition – the Champions League. The Rossoneri were up 2-0 till the dying minutes when Napoli was able to capitalise on Ignazio Abate’s sending-off as well as Milan’s sudden lack of focus. The San Siro outfit was also missing the injured Alessandro Nesta who went off in a precautionary move after just eight minutes to be replaced by the increasingly unreliable Kakha Kaladze.
The negative conclusions drawn from the match unfortunately outweigh any of the good results that have recently come Coach Leonardo’s way. As is often the case, victories are used to cover up unsatisfactory performances and a variety of weaknesses that are usually exposed in the aftermath of defeats. Milan’s positive mini-run included the notable 3-2 triumph in Madrid against los Galácticos, yet despite recording three decent victories the club’s performances were not convincing. The Rossoneri’s defence continues to leak goals while the offence is almost exclusively dependent on Brazilian Alexandre Pato’s scoring exploits and veteran Filippo Inzaghi’s opportunism. In the clash with the Partenopei, the Rossoneri’s deficiencies were all there to be seen, not to mention the Brazilian Coach’s lack of experience. After taking a quick two-nil lead, one would expect Milan to kill-off the match with a third goal, or at least to control the tempo with some intricate passing between the likes of Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo, two players more than capable on their day of retaining possession and putting it to good use.
The fact that Milan conceded two late goals is a sign of a lack of know-how and inexplicable miscalculation on behalf of Leonardo who probably should have saved the third substitution until the last minutes as a precautionary move after being 2-0 up for most of the match. The Brazilian Tactician could have used the last substitution following the unforeseen sending-off of Ignazio Abate (which clearly Leonardo holds no blame for) to fortify the defence, or even more significantly to waste some precious time towards the 90th minute after the officials decided on added time. It is one of the oldest tricks in the book to make a substitution towards the end to disrupt any momentum that Napoli could have built.
The Coach is not the only one to blame for this damaging draw, since the aforementioned Seedorf and Pirlo should have taken it upon themselves to ensure with their vast experience that the team did not lose concentration and concede late goals. Napoli certainly deserved a share of the points because of their industry, determination and certainly their late flurry on Dida’s goal. The Brazilian goalkeeper was surprisingly solid and was credited with eight saves, some of which were quite decisive. The match statistics clearly show that the hosts were in ascendency despite Milan’s early two-goal lead.
The outcome of the match proves once again that reinforcements are needed. Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar did not feature after proving to be incompatible with Pato. The latest rumour links Huntelaar with a swap deal involving Fiorentina’s Adrian Mutu. La Viola’s Romanian forward has had a slow start to the season as a result of niggling injuries and the now infamous legal battle with former club Chelsea. Mutu seems to be recapturing his form recently but with the emergence of young prodigy Stevan Jovetić his playing time could become limited and Huntelaar may perhaps welcome the opportunity of a fresh challenge away from the San Siro. Likewise, the Romania international striker will likely be open to the idea of a move away from Florence since he will find it increasingly difficult to dislodge the on-form attacking pair of Jovetić and Alberto Gilardino. The proposed deal would involve Huntelaar moving to Florence in addition to a fee of €5m in exchange for Mutu’s signing. There is no concrete evidence that such a move would materialise yet it seems increasingly likely that Huntelaar will be headed out come the January transfer window.
The San Siro outfit has also been linked with a plethora of defensive reinforcements in recent weeks and the latest addition to the list is defender Naldo. The Brazilian centre-back plays for Werder Bremen and is valued at around €15m, but the Rossoneri will face competition from the likes of Juventus for his signing. This weekend will see il Diavolo take on surprise package Parma in a crucial home match which will serve as a test prior to hosting Real Madrid.
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