Club Focus – Milan – Unrest at Milanello


More rumours abound from the San Siro this week, most of them inevitably revolving around Carlo Ancelotti, but also, somewhat more surprisingly, Kaka. After a brief flirtation with Manchester City in January, the 26-year-old was wooed into staying by hordes of adoring Milanese tifosi. Contracted to the Rossoneri until 2013, it appeared the Brazilian playmaker would not be prized away from the San Siro for any amount of money. Yet reports linking him with a £60m summer move to Real Madrid may just have a ring of truth about it after an unsettling week.

It’s nothing new for big name players to be linked with the Spanish Galacticos and for the majority of occasions speculation can be taken with a pinch of salt. Kaka’s relationship with il Diavolo hierarchy however, has not had the smell of roses it once had, which leads one to wonder whether they are once again considering cashing in on their prized asset in light of the financial downturn. Whilst away on international duty, Kaka’s ill-advised comments about the poor treatment he has received by Milan club doctors indicate he is unsettled. Whilst sidelined with the foot injury since the beginning of February and his subsequent struggle to recover, the former World Player of the Year may well have had time to reflect on his future and may have decided it’s time for a change of scenery. And it’s not only the circumstances of talented Brazilian which leads Football Italiano to question whether all is well with Milan.

With the number of stars in the Rossoneri squad, it’s difficult to please everyone and some star names have had to settle for a place on the bench. Against Lecce at the weekend, three big names that usually leave opponents wracked with fear were named amongst the substitutes – Ronaldinho, David Beckham and Andriy Shevchenko – such is the stature of players at Milan. The latter two of the three aforementioned subs may not be the force they once were and the former is not in his best form, but they still remain luxury items on a stellar roster of players.


Unrest in the Milanese camp is not something that has recently come about either, it’s been bubbling under for months and perhaps now, after the short-falls of the team, ego’s are getting in the way. Clarence Seedorf made some choice comments before Beckham’s arrival suggesting he would not get in the team, which could have been seen as a concern that it was his place in the side that would be sacrificed to accommodate the loan star, and more recently in the game against Atalanta, despite making three amazing and vital saves, nobody congratulated Christian Abbiati at the final whistle, raising questions of Milan’s unity. Indeed, following one glorious save which more than deserved a pat on the back, the Milan keeper was left to turn to the spectators and celebrate on the pitch alone, clenching his fist and roaring as though he had just stopped a spot kick in a penalty shoot out.

Earlier in the season Kaka bemoaned the fact he was not making an impact on games in 2008/09 as he had in previous seasons – failing to find the space playing alongside Ronaldinho compared with his partnership with Seedorf. In turn Ronaldinho has also voiced his dissatisfaction with a place on the bench. One would suspect something has got to give. Last week Ronaldinho hinted he could become a free agent in the summer, but this week Ancelotti suggested the Brazilian could be the future of Milan. Either way, it would appear there is no room for both Kaka and Ronaldinho at Milan and one or the other will volunteer to leave.

From two gifted Brazilians to a third – and one that is certain to have a very promising Milan career ahead of him, Alexandre Pato. The 19-year-old wonderkid seems to improve week after week. His touch is sublime, his pace frightening and, in the main, his performances have been scintillating. Against Lecce he looked as though he had a point to prove to Brazil Coach, Dunga.


In Brazil’s two World Cup qualifiers, Pato was only given a 20-minute run-out, coming on for Robinho against Peru in the final third of second game. By this time Brazil was already 3-0 up. The previous encounter had been a disappointing 1-1 draw in Ecuador, but Pato was not given a chance to spark some life into a tepid Selecao performance. Last August, Dunga had already criticised the young Pato, saying he had not learnt how to lose his marker. As the eager striker ripped into Lecce’s defence on Sunday, it would appear he has worked on this part of his game and is banging at the door of his national Coach. Maybe brief words of encouragement from Dunga also inspired him.

The Pato story so far is one of success – and only promises to get better. At the age of ten, the young Brazilian contracted cancer that threatened his life. His family were too poor to pay for the treatment, but Pato was reprieved when he was offered to have the tumour removed free of charge. Since that moment he has blossomed into one of the finest young talents in the world. He was a prolific scorer for Brazil at both U-17 and U-20 and has netted 14 times in 22 starts for Milan this term. Since getting the chance of a run out in the team last November, he has cemented a spot in Ancelotti’s first XI and with the form he has produces there is no chance of anybody dislodging him.

So to the game with Lecce. Despite Milan dominating possession, they struggled to create chances in the final third and were frustrated time and again, not only by a stubborn Lecce defence, but also their own ineptness. Kaka lacked match sharpness and struggled to get into the game and Seedorf – in a deeper role to the one he is used to adopting – was tidy, albeit mostly ineffective. It was Pato who provided the threat and ran the Lecce defence ragged but without an end product. Sadly, for all his good work, the talented youngster was culpable of squandering the best opportunity of the game when he headed over from seven yards.

It looked as though the game was heading for a 0-0 until the Rossoneri made the breakthrough a minute into injury time. Philippe Senderos got on the end of a corner and although his strike looked to be headed goal-bound, flicked of Ronaldinho and into the net. The Brazilian was subsequently awarded the goal despite not knowing much about it. No sooner had the crowd died down in celebration then Filippo Inzaghi doubled their lead and sealed the victory. It was no more than Milan deserved on the balance of play, yet they will be disappointed by their failure to create better goal-scoring opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes.

Next weekend Milan travel to Chievo who will be in buoyant mood after holding Juventus to a spectacular 3-3 draw in Turin. That result reduced the gap between il Diavolo and the Bianconeri to just five points, and Ancelotti’s men will be guarded against making the same mistake as their close rivals. Domenico Di Carlo’s men will look to maintain their good form having lost only one of their last ten matches, a string of results that has seen the Mussi Volanti climb their way from trouble and open up a seven-point gap from the drop zone.

Ancelotti this week has admitted overlooking players that should be given a chance – a fact highlighted to him by a banner in the Milan crowd at the weekend that read: ‘Show Shevchenko respect.’ The Ukrainian’s introduction against Lecce certainly made an impact and he may get a start alongside Pato to boost his confidence and morale. Another player that should be in line for a starting role is Ronaldinho, another player the Milan Coach can be accused of shunning. With respect to the Rossoneri Tactician, he does have the most difficult job in football in picking a Milan starting XI. Still, he was part of the decision-making process to bring so many top quality players to the San Siro, so one can’t afford too much sympathy for him.

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March 22 – Week 29 Napoli 0-0 Milan

April 5 – Week 30 Milan 2-0 Lecce – Ronaldinho (90), Inzaghi (90)

April 11 – Week 31 Chievo vs. Milan

April 19 – Week 32 Milan vs. Torino Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

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