Il Diavolo made it to the quarter-finals of the Italian Cup after disposing of Lega Pro club Novara in a much tougher than anticipated encounter. The visitors, who have not lost in 25 matches prior to the cup defeat to Milan, were not expected to be a match even for the weakened line-up. The hosts were finally able to break Novara’s resistance inside the last 10 minutes of the match courtesy of Mathieu Flamini’s winner.
The other Milan goal was scored by veteran poacher Filippo Inzaghi, who is likely to reject the Rossoneri’s offer for a one year extension. The former Italy international is seeking first-team football on a regular basis and it will be near impossible for him to get considerable playing time given the presence of Alexandre Pato and Marco Borriello. The Rossoneri are certain to acquire an established striker by the summer at most while offloading the highly disappointing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Dutch striker has not impressed and is finding it increasingly difficult to break into the starting line-up with Borriello returning to form.
The Rossoneri’s market involvement in January will likely be low-key as declared by Vice-President Adriano Galliani as the club will not want to mess with the current squad given how the players have successfully turned things around under the tutelage of Coach Leonardo. If the transfer window was open a couple of months earlier then Milan would certainly have needed to plunge into the market to save the season from a disastrous twist. The perseverance and conviction shown by Leonardo and the resurgence of Brazilian star Ronaldinho have played a critical role in the Rossoneri’s rejuvenation and climb up the standings to second place.
Loan signing David Beckham has been a positive influence at Milanello and has contributed with assists during the two matches he participated in so far. The English midfielder has successfully filled in for the absent Pato and will likely revert to a more conservative position once the young Brazilian is back from injury. Beckham has received a welcome reception from the tifosi and his commitment to the Milan cause is quite obvious as it serves two purposes for the player – to show the world he can still play at the highest of levels and convince England Manager Fabio Capello to call him up for World Cup 2010 in South Africa. Capello has made it clear Beckham will make his squad as long as he is playing regularly and keeping fully fit.
Beckham performed well in Turin and was quite useful in helping the Rossoneri humiliate Juventus 3-0. The triumph still reverberates around the peninsula given Milan have not beaten the Bianconeri in Turin for a few years, and the manner of the victory discourages the Old Lady’s players and nearly destroys their morale. This is reminiscent of Inter’s humiliation of Milan earlier in the season when a 4-0 thrashing inflicted by the Nerazzurri hit the Rossoneri players hard, contributing to a prolonged period of inconsistency.
The once maligned Leonardo is now being showered with praise and salutations as a result of Milan’s positive run. Even veteran midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, who was rumoured to be in disagreement with the Coach, went public to admit Leonardo has done great in managing the many egos at the club while maintaining a hold over the dressing room. Nerazzurri President Massimo Moratti praised Leonardo for his work and claimed he would have liked to hire him at Inter in some managerial position.
Il Diavolo will host Siena this weekend in a relatively easy clash as the visitors are struggling in last place and have lost three matches in a row while conceding a whopping 10 goals. Milan must win against the Robur and then gather another three points from Udinese’s visit to the Giuseppe Meazza before taking on league leaders Inter in a clash which might very well define the season for the bitter city rivals.
In a noteworthy statement, Pierpaolo Berlusconi, son of Silvio, pointed out to the fact Milan began 2010 relying on seven Italian starters against Juventus in perhaps a veiled dig at Inter, who are often chastised for their lack of Italian and homegrown players. Berlusconi went a step further by speaking of the current starting line-up as reminiscent of the days when Milan would field a plethora of Italian players while dominating the Italian league, in particular in the early 1990s. Back then a trio of renowned Dutch players (Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard) was aided by eight Italian players in forming a fearsome and dominating team.
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
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
The Rossoneri challenging Juventus for second place – November 10, 2009
International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)
Crucial stretch begins as Dzeko linked again – November 20, 2009
Rossoneri continue impressive run – November 24, 2009
Missed opportunity to qualify – November 27, 2009
Huntelaar breaks his duck with a late double to lift Mila to second – December 1, 2009
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
Gattuso to help the aged a little longer – December 14, 2009
Staying away from the market – December 18, 2009
Winter break starts early – December 22, 2009
Beckham lands in town – December 29, 2009
Giants on the transfer horizon – January 5, 2010
Beckham makes second Milan debut – January 8, 2010
Ronnie puts the breaks on in Turin – January 12, 2010
Weakened Rossoneri scrape by Novara – January 15, 2010